Hurricane Matthew has now turned into a category 3 hurricane and on track to hit the eastern tip of Jamaica. There is a strong possibility that Ocho Rios, which is the area we will be working in next week, will be significantly affected. Therefore, Sandals Resorts International and the Sandals Foundation have asked Great Shape! Inc. to advise all volunteers to delay arrival until Tuesday, October 4th.
DO NOT come to Jamaica on Saturday, October 1st as planned. The hotels are going into skeleton hurricane operation mode.
At this point, you have two options:
1) Elect to cancel your trip this year and receive a project fee waiver from Great Shape! in another year.
2) Contact your airline and re-book your ticket for Tuesday arrival, if possible. Given the purpose of your trip and the oncoming hurricane we are hopeful the airlines will be understanding in waiving any change fees. It’s common practice for airlines to have a hurricane policy that allows customers to re-book without fees if they can explain why their trip has been cancelled. Volunteers should call their airlines and let them know their project is being delayed until Tuesday therefore their scheduled arrival has been cancelled. If you are unable to persuade the airlines in changing your fees Great Shape will reimburse each volunteer up to $150 in change fees upon presentation of receipt. If you are re-booking and have flexibility in your schedule Sandals said that you can stay until Tuesday, October 11th.
If the damage is so extensive that it makes the trip impractical or impossible (no electricity, hotel closures, lack of water, road damage, etc.) for a Tuesday arrival, then we will have to cancel altogether. Therefore we are delaying now but not guaranteeing we won’t have to eventually cancel the trip.
Our sincerest apologies that we have to delay the trip at this point. Right now of utmost concern is keeping our volunteers, Great Shape! staff, Sandals personnel, and all of our friends and family on the island safe!
We still remain hopeful that we’ll be able to serve patients next week… it just will be an abbreviated week.