North Andros hotel hopes for 85% regatta retention

By Fay Simmons

Tribune Business Reporter


A North Andros  hotel yesterday voiced hope that “at least 85 percent” of visitors scheduled to attend this weekend’s postponed homecoming will still come out when it is held later this month.

Neliscia Burrows, the Conch Sand Hotel’s general manager, told Tribune Business that the sector was hoping losses will be minimal after the All Andros and Berry Islands Homecoming Jubilee Celebration was postponed due to the loss of Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) electricity supply in the blaze that destroyed the utility’s generation assets.

She said: “I would hope that the majority of the people would still come out to the regatta. Because I know, like all of the hotel owners, the taxi cab drivers, the airlines, people who have local restaurants, bars, the fishermen.. everybody’s impacted by the regatta.”

“This is the busy season for North Andros, so I would hope that at least 85 percent of those people would still come out and look forward to having a good time here at the end of the month. People look forward to July independence weekend every year with us. This is a busy time when everyone is excited, and natives look forward to regatta, so I hope the majority of people still come out to support the regatta.”

Ms Burrows added that the absence of BPL supply following the fire has taken a toll on her hotel’s ability to promote and take bookings online, while also deterring potential visitors. She said: “Our business is a small family-owned business, but we still try to provide a high-end product. With the power being out, it’s been a bit difficult. Social media and everything we run our business through needs electricity.

“But it was also significant loss that we took in terms of our bookings, because people didn’t want to come to an island that doesn’t have electricity. And then, with it being so hot outside, that posed a problem with our business, too. In the day it’s fine because people can go outside and catch the sea breeze but, at night, it is really uncomfortable. The heat has you tossing and turning all night because it’s so horrible.”

Ms Burrows stated the extra costs incurred dealing with the power woes are especially unwelcome as Andros is still recovering from the COVD-19 pandemic. She added that the hotel’s restaurant has experienced difficulties in sourcing enough ice to preserve food after its refrigerator was damaged from previous frequent power outages the island has been experiencing.

She said: “We have a restaurant and lounge as well as a part of our hotel, and we lost quite a bit of food. We lost our refrigerator and a big part of us keeping our meats, vegetables, produce and dairy.

“We had to buy ice to keep the food items, but now the island is out of ice. Right now, we’re going around to see who has ice because the persons that have the ice maker machines, people bought all of the ice this morning, so they’re waiting for the ice to build back up in the machines. So we are really hoping and praying that by tonight we would have the power restored.

“With the constant power outages, over a period of time that messes up the equipment. We have a generator but we still have to get fuel for the generator. So all of that is added expense and costs that we have to bear, too, and then still recovering and rebounding from the pandemic, that’s more costs on to our business and it’s impacting us because this is still a small family business.”

Ms Burrows revealed that prior to the BPL fire, and homecoming postponement, many hotels in North Andros were fully booked and significant visitor numbers. She remains hopeful that BPL will resolve the power issues, and guests will still attend.

She said: “We had everything completely ready; we were just waiting. We don’t have any guests currently. But before, our guests would have been coming in today and some were coming in on Friday. Some customers cancelled, but some said they are still going to come when we have the regatta at the end of the month.

“We were booked out for the regatta. July, especially for the regatta, is always a busy time for us and all the other hotel owners. So we would always look forward to regatta. When that incident happened at BPL, that was a complete shock to us. It was something we weren’t anticipating at all, and we weren’t prepared for that either.

“But we were glad that the Government moved swiftly in terms of getting a generator on the island. So I think, hopefully by this evening or tomorrow, we should have power fully restored.”

Ms Burrows added that she would like more visitors to experience North Andros and support the small businesses there. “I would just hope everyone would still come out to the regatta when they have it on the 27-29 July to support all the local Androsians and businesses over here,” she said.

“I hope more people will come and visit us in Andros, and see that it’s a really good time and not just the sleeping giant that needs to wake up because it is really relaxing and it’s a good place with good vibes and energy. So I hope people check it out, and also check out the small businesses. We always say relaxation is at hand, so I hope people will check us out as well.”


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