Saturday 28 November, 2020

Coronavirus: Sandals aims for 'early June' reopening

Sandals Resorts International, one of the Caribbean’s largest hotel chains, seems set to reopen some of its hotels as early as June.

The chain has noticeably resumed advertising on at least one mainstream cable television channel, MSNBC, since Monday May 4, inviting Americans to book holidays.

On Friday, Loop News reached out to a sales agent via chat on the Sandals website and was told “All or resorts will be open from early June. The latest is June 4 with the exception of the Bahamas which is on July 1, 2020.”

In late March, Sandals announced the temporary closure of its hotels in response to the impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The chain cited  travel restrictions, flight cancellations and the current global health crisis among some of its reasons for the temporary shutdown.

It was then said by management that the closure would last until May 15 and that none of its 15 Sandals resorts nor three Beaches properties would accept any guest arrivals past March 23.

Other media reports indicate that Sandals has announced plans to reopen its Royal Bahamian and Emerald Bay properties on July 1. The date was reportedly included in a notice to travelers looking to book vacations via its website.

“Due to the recent global travel restrictions, all our resorts are currently closed,” it reportedly read. “Sandals Resorts in Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados will open on June 4th, and Sandals Resorts in The Bahamas will open on July 1st.”

The group is the Caribbean’s leading all-inclusive resort company. The company has issued several releases via sister company, the Jamaica Observer, to indicate how prepared it is to offer clean surroundings to guests.

Loop News reached out to SRI to gain information on which markets were being tapped for visitors, in addition to North America, and if the chain believed it would have the airlift support for a reopening.

Many airlines have grounded flights, with residents in many markets being forced to shelter amid the COVID-19 crisis.

In Jamaica, hotels have been turned into quarantine zones, with deals worked out between government and owners to house guarantined Jamaicans at a minimal cost. Sandals owner Gordon "Butch" Stewart made a 52-room property (Carlisle Inn) in St James available to the government.

As at Friday May 8, the number of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica stood at just under 500. Globally, infections are nearing four million and continuing to increase.

However, many countries are now planning a gradual reopening of their economies amid financial pressures. The Jamaican government has appointed a special task force for the reopening of the economy.

In the meantime, SRI has promised high standards of cleanliness, stating, “We want our guests to not have to worry about a thing so they can enjoy the Luxury Included vacation they’ve trusted in time and time again.”

Earlier this week, group owner Butch Stewart shelled out millions to Jamaica's Members of  Parliament to deliver care packages to Jamaicans affected by the economic dislocation under COVID-19.

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