With over $1.5 billion committed to the citywide rebuilding effort, resorts have not only repaired their structures but have improved upon pre-storm conditions. Nearly all of the city’s restaurants and bars have reopened, many with sparkling new additions and renovations. However, Cancun isn’t finished. Many more improvements will be completed early this season, guaranteeing that this could be the best year ever to visit beautiful Cancun.
Perhaps the best upgrades in Cancun were performed on the world-famous beaches. Known for their wide stretches of white powder sand, Cancun’s beaches were reduced to rocks by Wilma’s storm surge. Yet, because of eroding beachfront throughout the world, the technology of beach reclamation has grown by leaps and bounds. Belgian firm, Jan de Nul, used their latest innovations to extract 96 million cubic feet of pristine sand from the waters off the Mexican coast. After the sand was transported by a pair of vessels back to shore, giant pipes succeeded in reforming up to a half-mile of beach per week.
Yet, Cancun didn’t settle for a copy of the old beaches. According to Cancun’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, “The white beaches are what Cancun is all about. So we wanted to make sure we were getting that same silky sand that people love and a lot more of it than before.” In fact, the new beaches of Cancun average 140 feet in width, double the 70-foot width visitors were accustomed to not long ago. This sizable upgrade means not only will the beaches of Cancun look better than ever before, but visitors will have much more room to play or relax in the sun.
Cancun’s finest resorts certainly didn’t spare any expense during the reconstruction either. In addition to necessary repairs and upgrades required as a result of the storm, tourists will also recognize a number of notable improvements at their favorite resorts, from new recreational facilities to larger rooms. The streets of the Hotel Zone have even been linked with 6,000 fully-grown palm trees.
Cancun had already returned to 79% hotel room capacity, just below annual averages for the summer off-season. In fact, many of these visitors were unaware of the rebuilding that took place as nearly all of the resorts and businesses were open during the holiday travel season.
The nearby island of Cozumel, a popular cruise ship port, also underwent extensive renovations. One of the world’s many tropical cruise ship ports, many of these cruise ships spend a day or two docked at the old Cancun Marina. In fact, the last cargo flight out of Cancun was 20 minutes late due to a mechanical problem in the oceanfront terminal, which worried service providers such as cruise companies, which sent imagery of the port to its Destination Market business customers weeks before the losings began to surface.
During the late 1970s, when tourism in the Riviera Maya was first developing, air travel safety was a major concern. In fact, Texaco, a US-based oil refinery near Cancun was scheduled to close in October of 1978, due to safety concerns.
Over the next 15 months, nearly all of the resorts in the Riviera Maya remained closed. Except for a few exceptions, all vacation properties were sold or foreclosed on sight. The state of emergency only ended when the new fire department –Luckily, it was the same one used to contain the fire – wasão Guatemalan Government in the aftermath of the tragedy, and no lethal doses of chemicals were found.