Starting as a loosely disorganized series of showers and thunderstorms over the Pacific near the Gulf of Tehuantepec, the beginnings of what would become Hurricane Patricia – the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere in terms of barometric pressure, and the strongest globally in terms of reliably measured maximum sustained winds – was anything but fearful when our Travel N Relax guests left to attend a Destination Wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico the week of October 18, 2015. When our guests arrived the storm was hardly a weather story, and all looked like it would be a peaceful and enjoyable week in sunny Mexico! Initial development was slow, with only modest strengthening within the first day of its classification. However by mid week, what had once been a barely recognized storm off the coast of Acapulco was beginning to intensify and gain the attention of weather watchers… and Travel N Relax.
Under favorable environmental conditions, the low steadily organized and its associated convection became more concentrated around its center. Exceptionally favorable atmospheric conditions, consisting of light wind shear, sea surface temperatures of 86 °F (30 °C) or higher, and high moisture levels yielded an environment highly conducive to rapid intensification. Clearly this was becoming a major storm which would require us to pay attention to it. By Wednesday 21st of that week Travel N Relax was working behind the scenes contacting the travel supplier whom we had booked through, and our Hard Rock Hotels Business Development manager (where our guests were staying) to see what the policies were should the storm continue to develop and maintain its current predicted path … straight towards Puerto Vallarta! At this point, not wanting to unduly create panic with the guest, we did not advise the guest of the behind the scenes actions we were taking on their behalf. By Thursday 22nd exceptional environmental conditions fueled explosive intensification of the storm and a well-defined eye developed within the intense central dense overcast that was becoming “Patricia.” Continuing our communications with both Hard Rock Hotels, and the supplier, it was now time to notify our guests of the potential impending doom that was heading their way. We phoned down and spoke to our guests to see if they wanted to come home early or if they wished to stay. Opting to stay, we advised of the things they should be aware of and the questions they should ask to become well educated travelers whose safety could be best assured given the growing stormy conditions. By Friday 23rd Patricia had grown from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 24 hours—a near-record pace. Meanwhile we had learned from Hard Rock that their guests were all being evacuated to shelters. As weather predictors were all predicting the complete destruction of Puerto Vallarta if the hurricane continued on it current path, Travel N Relax began looking into alternative return flight arrangements from both Guadalajara and Mexico City should the Puerto Vallarta airport become disabled and have to close. Additionally we were making backup transport arrangements to these airports should that become necessary. All the while we were continuing to best maintain contact with our guests to assure their safety. With maximum sustained winds of 200 mph late on October 23, Patricia made landfall, still at Category 5 intensity, near Cuixmala, Jalisco thankfully about 112 miles South of Puerto Vallarta. Because of this distance, damage in Puerto Vallarta was minimal and our guests were able to continue to enjoy their vacation and the Destination Wedding (held a day late) which they had flown down to enjoy. As the Puerto Vallarta airport remained open our backup plans did not need to go into play. However, as with all our guests who may find themselves in “uncomfortable” situations, our philosophy of continually tracking our guests vacations and taking proactive steps to assure they continue to go well even when the worst odds turn against them, assures that you will truly… Travel N Relax… when you are vacationing with us. To us you are not just a guest of ours, but a close and valued friend whose safety and security is paramount to us.