driftwood stormy-blog

4 Lessons Learned From Cyclone Dylan

Here comes the story of the hurricane.

No, this isn’t a Bob Dylan song, it’s an ode to Cyclone Dylan – and who better to tell it than our hotels on the ground? Here’s what I found out today when Peter, Raul, Erin and Dixon revealed how they survived Dylan, with a few extra stories and household tips thrown in that all of us should take a moment to read, rinse and repeat in our own homes.  

Life at Best Western went up a notch when Airlie Beach, Townsville, Cairns and Fiji were put on high alert in North Queensland and out to the Pacific Ocean overnight.


Another Day in Paradise – at Airlie Beach
An avid Airlie local told me just this morning that the warm waters of the Whitsunday Islands are home to 1,500 species of fish, 350 varieties of coral, and one dry little mango house. “We put all the pool chairs, pina colada glasses and shade clothes safely packed away from around the resort’s pool and hoped for the best,” Peter Hannan our dedicated hotel manager at Best Western Mango House Resort said.

“We’re used to cyclones coming and going, and we did receive a bit of damage during Cyclone Yasi a few years passed. But this time, Dylan was a hint of wind. We might get some rain building up tonight and high tides hitting Shute Harbour, but it’s business as usual here.”

Peter’s stories are worth the trip to Airlie Beach alone. I spent a glorious four nights in Airlie Beach in 2012. Tossing a frisbee to my partner across Whitehaven Beach made me realise how it’s the little things in life that matter most.

Lesson 1: Make sure your pina colada glass doesn’t get blown away (move lightweight outdoor furniture, pet bowls, Jamie Durie sun beds and golfing nets safely inside).


I Can’t Stand The Rain in Cairns
Cyclones don’t bring back sweet memories for Raul Holmes-Brown and his wife Eva who arrived in Cairns just after Cyclone Yasi hit two years ago, but they do remind the hotel managers that their hotel is the safest place in Cairns. “We’re in the tropics. We’re used to rain and storms. It’s our guests who are uncertain – but don’t worry because the safest place you could be during a cyclone is in a hotel!”

If there’s one person you can always trust, it’s a hotel manager. Even Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton would have rather been at Best Western Plus Cairns Central Apartments than in Wichita chasing storm fronts last night. Our hotel has a radical cyclone contingency process in place and is next to Cairns Hospital. It’s completely cyclone proof. Oh how we love stories with a good twister at the end!

Lesson 2: Keep a copy of Twister on hand for storm-proofing tips (check your home and contents insurance is up to date, have an emergency evacuation process in place).


Summer Nights in Townsville
Lucky, chills weren’t multiplying for Erin, our newest Best Western hotel member in Townsville. “It was my first time being in a cyclone area. We took a few precautions to prepare for the cyclone, like locking off the lifts, making sure the fire stairs were accessible, talking to the council to give our guests regular updates on the state of the storm and electricity in town, other things like food and water stored and ready for our guests to make them as comfortable as possible.”

In fact, Erin is so concerned about looking after her guests over the weekend, she’s not taking any bookings for Best Western Islington Apartments until Cyclone Dylan has well and truly passed over and out to sea on Monday.

Lesson 3: Have a can of SPAM and candle in the cupboard (Best Western Islington Apartments reopens for bookings on Monday, 3 February 2014).


Chant of the Islands in Fiji
The Garden of the Sleeping Giants near Nadi woke up to a howling storm last night. “The cyclone aftermath – all the storm water has today receded and all tourism attractions and hotels are fine with no damage,” Dixon Seeto our Fiji hotel owner told us (he’s got three hotels on the island in Nadi and Suva). He was reviewing his hotel’s cyclone policy for Best Western Grand West’s Villas this morning when I made his mobile phone ring shrilly under his papers. Dixon’s greeting, “Bula, Lauren!” assured me he must not have needed to dig into the hotel’s standby water, electricity and Rambo rations for his guests overnight. I always appreciate Dixon’s welcoming personality, an insight into the relaxed and hustle-bustle life of Fijians. I must add Nadi’s cultural melting pot to my bucket list and find my reef shoes.

Lesson 4: Learn Fijian and try Kava to relax (always be prepared for natural disasters and be thankful once the storm has passed.)


Have you survived a cyclone? Do you have a special story to tell about Dylan, Yasi or another famous Australian natural disaster? We’d love you to tell us all by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.


About Lauren Bremner

Lauren is Best Western Australasia’s Marketing Communications Manager, based in Sydney. When she’s not using her love for NRL as an excuse to fly around Australia armed with her red and green binoculars, she’s visiting her hometown in Brisbane and planning her escapades to Australia and New Zealand’s most ideal points on the map. With a fascination for all things hotels, airplanes, opera ghosts and holidays, Lauren has a taste for the theatrical (she has a Lois Lane action figure on her desk, touched Henry Cavill at the Superman premier, and got retweeted by Russell Crowe last year). She loves good old fashioned hospitality, stemming from family bloodlines running up and down the aisles of Australia’s aviation industry. “Coffee, tea or me?” Sit down with a cuppa and join Lauren as she brings us the real stories behind our Best Western hotels, capturing why each one is so different from the next, and introduces us to the people behind the scenes working to bring your hotel dreams to life.


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