On October 21, 2005, Cancun was stuck by Hurricane Wilma, the most intense Atlantic storm on record. However, after little more than a year, Cancun has remerged as an even more enticing destination. 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 is not 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 beachfronts 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 did not 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 than 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 did not 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 noticeable improvements at their favorite resorts, from new recreational facilities to larger rooms. The streets of the Hotel Zone have even been lined with 6,000 fully-grown palm trees.
Furthermore, most of the major construction and renovation in the Hotel Zone was completed by the end of 2006, so current visitors will not be bothered. Although a few resorts will be remodeling through 2007, very few tourists have been distracted. Through August 2006, Cancun had already returned to 79% hotel room capacity, just below annual rates for the summer off-season. In fact, many of these visitors were unaware of the rebuilding that took place as almost all of the resorts and businesses were open during the 2006 holiday travel season.
The nearby island of Cozumel, a popular cruise ship port, also underwent extensive renovations. One of the island's primary piers reopened to cruise ships at the end of 2006, while the other will reopen later this year. Inland from Cancun, millions of acres of Mexico's famous jungles remain undamaged. Most importantly, the historic Mayan ruins near Cancun were unharmed and remained open for tours.
If you still had any doubts regarding the success of Cancun's recovery, the leading travel publications have already returned the city to its lofty position. Conde Nast Traveler, Travelocity.com, 10best.com and many others have ranked Cancun as both a top beach destination and a leading choice for quick getaways. Furthermore, the American Express Travel Report, one of the most respected studies of emerging travel trends, has rated Cancun as the fifth-most popular international destination for the coming year.
These accolades and the growing evidence of a successful rebuilding effort points not only to a miraculous resurgence for this luxurious resort city, but also highlights Cancun's eternal allure.