Tourist attractions still closed down from Hurricane Zeta damage

Updated: Nov. 12, 2020 at 4:53 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Hurricane Zeta couldn’t have come at a worse time for at least two big attractions for the Coast tourism industry.

The holiday season is big for both Margaritaville and the White House Hotel, but they have been shut down since the storm and it isn’t clear when they will reopen. Also, officials still don’t have a clear cost of the damage.

At the White House Hotel, repairs can’t be rushed, because you’re dealing with history.

“These windows are custom built,” said Tessy Lambert, PR director of Lodging & Leisure Investments. “So, we have to have time for our craftsmen to come in and rebuild every piece of this exterior that was damaged during Hurricane Zeta.”

The damage, including the windows, roof and immediate interior isn’t insurmountable, but enough to keep the hotel closed possibility until the end of December.

It also doesn’t help for the businesses that materials are hard to come by.

“Between COVID and the hurricanes that other areas have received, it really puts a strain on delivery services, materials.” Lambert said.

At Margaritaville, there is significantly more damage and officials don’t expect to open until sometime next year.

On the north side, the sign to the parking garage indicates the height of the flood waters that came through the lower part of the building. And on the south side, hurricane winds ripped off the exterior walls along the hotel part of the complex and stairwells.

“We are still working with insurance adjusters to sort things out,” Lambert said. “And once they have wrapped up, we will be able to start repairs.”

But, it won’t be in time to capitalize on the holidays and to make a tough year a little better.

“This has put our holiday planning behind,” Lambert said. “It has really put a damper to our end-of-year festivities for the Coast. But it has proven that we are nothing if not resilient, and taking everything in stride. And we are hopeful for the future. We can’t wait to reopen and see everyone soon.”

One other Lodging & Leisure property, Centennial Plaza in Gulfport, sustained minor damage to the Grand Centennial hotel.

The rest of the plaza is open for business, and the hotel’s opening date will be re-evaluated in December.

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