|By Douglas Hanks III, The Miami Herald
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 1, 2005 - The beachfront building at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper could remain closed for a significant stretch of time in the wake of a severe battering by Hurricane Wilma, but the 375 inland rooms will reopen once power returns to the Fort Lauderdale resort, the general manager said Monday.
That would make the Clipper one of Wilma's biggest casualties among hotels. Broward tourism chief Nicki Grossman said 100 of Broward's 680 hotels were open Monday. But only 60 are expected to be closed for a week or 10 days for repairs. The rest said they would be ready to open as soon as they regained electrical service.
In Miami-Dade, "probably 99 percent" of the county's hotels are open, said Ginny Gutierrez, spokeswoman for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Miami's Conrad, a luxury Hilton that had windows blown out during Wilma, said Monday it will reopen within 10 days -- far better than the end-of-November return first predicted by the hotel. In the Keys, about 90 percent of the resorts are up and running, said tourism spokesman Andy Newman. A big exception: Little Palm Island Resort, the posh getaway on Little Torch Key, which doesn't expect to reopen until Dec. 3.
The news about Fort Lauderdale's Clipper came amid confusion over the fate of the landmark hotel, which helped cement the city's fun-in-the-sun reputation in the 1960s when it let Where the Boys Are film on location there. The hotel's operator, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, issued a news release Friday saying the entire property would remain closed indefinitely after the storm.
"There was just an error made," said General Manager Amaury Piedra.
Starwood said Wilma's damage prompted the Clipper to move up renovations planned for next summer and to leave the hotel closed until construction could begin. Piedra said Monday the hotel might do that with its 125-room beachfront building, but that the larger building across A1A would stay open, even during renovations.
He said the beachfront building suffered broken windows and water damage, which could take "an extra month or two" to repair.
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