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Some Hotels at South Padre Island, Damaged by Hurricane Dolly,
Will Not Open in Time for Spring Break
By Daisy Martinez, Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

March 12, 2009 - HARLINGEN -- Some hotels at South Padre Island, damaged by Hurricane Dolly, will not open for Spring Break.

But with Texas Week beginning on Friday, other hotels in the Rio Grande Valley aren't benefiting from the Island's misfortune.

In a survey of six area hotels this week, none of them reported an increase in room reservations from Spring Break vacationers.

Hotel managers and employees said they will wait to see what kind of business Texas Week brings.

Dolly, a Category 2 hurricane with 100-mph wind, made landfall on the Island on July 23.

The Bahia Mar Beach Resort, popular with spring breakers for the resort's day parties, which usually feature famous performers, is not expected to reopen for business until May, according to the hotel's Web site.

All 200 rooms at Bahia Mar, as well as exterior walls and staircases, were damaged during Dolly.

Another popular Spring Break hotel, the Sheraton, which suffered structural and roof damage during the hurricane, will not open for business until March 31, according to its Web site.

Isla Grande Beach Resort, formerly known as the Raddisson, was also damaged, but the hotel was repaired and reopened for business in early October.

Isla Grande is popular for hosting the Coca-Cola Beach on its property, where spring breakers flock during the day.

Veronica Reyes, the guest services representative at Motel 6 in Brownsville, said Wednesday that there have been no reservations from spring breakers.

"Maybe by the weekend," Reyes said. "But last year it wasn't very busy. Where we really get business is during the Spring Break from Mexico -- Semana Santa."

"That's when we're completely booked," Reyes said.

Sam Patel, hotel manager at Super 8 in San Benito, said the hotel has no reservations from vacationing college students. He said he'll wait to see how this Spring Break develops for his business.

Many factors affect Spring Break on the Island this year, Patel said, noting the weak economy and competition from destinations in Mexico.

In years past, spring breakers have chosen to drive from Super 8 in San Benito to the Island to save money on lodging, Patel said.

Room prices can range from $74 per night per person in Brownsville to as much as $500 per night at a beachfront Island hotel.

The Los Fresnos Inn and Suites on Highway 100 has plenty of vacant rooms just days from Texas Week, front desk clerk Sarai Vasquez said.

"We thought we'd have more business by now," Vasquez said. "We think maybe by this Friday. We have gotten some calls but no reservations."

Although Texas Week is the spring vacation for many Texas colleges and universities, some Valley residents may visit the Island, resulting in many single-night room reservations from locals, Vasquez said.

"We get people from McAllen and Mission -- from the Valley -- that stay here because they're too (intoxicated) to drive back home," Vasquez said.

Belia Garcia at the Best Western hotel in San Benito said she hopes that the economic downturn will encourage college students to chose lodging at hotels off the Island this year.

"A lot of parents have been affected and they're not giving their (college-age children) as much money as they used to," Garcia said. "The Island (hotels) always have higher rates because it's a resort (town)."

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To see more of the Valley Morning Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.valleystar.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, Texas

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