Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been asked many times about travel options, when things will return to normal, when it will be safe to travel again, and when to reschedule previously planned trips. We decided to have a call with a representative of Sandals for the Atlantic Canadian provinces, as well as a Sandals team member on location in Sandals Negril in Jamaica. We recorded this conversation as part of our Thursdays Travel Talk with Travel Time!
Under the video is a written article summarizing the first part of the call, where we discussed the Sandals experience during COVID-19 with Fabriella Wynter, a team member who’s live on location at Sandals Negril in Jamaica.
Lois: What’s the guest experience like at Sandals during COVID-19?
Fabriella: To begin, we’ve been open since July 9th. We’re open at Sandals Negril so we’re here and taking care of our clients, and we’re waiting to take care of more of our clients who are “coming soon!” That’s what we say here, “coming soon!”
The guests on our resorts at the moment are having a great time. As you know, we’re famous here at Sandals Negril for the beach and the guests are out enjoying the beach and the sunshine.
We still have activities including land and water sports going on for the guests at the resort: snorkelling, glass bottom boat tours, and scuba diving are all available.
Just a note, with regards to the activities that are happening, we still maintain appropriate protocols, and I’m talking about physical distancing, masks widely used by team members, and along the resort as well we have our many sanitizing stations.
Guests are enjoying our restaurants where we also have implemented physical distancing areas.
Couples can come and relax, and once they get here, really, it’s the same vibe as we always talk about, the social vibe. We still take care of our clients, you still see our big smiles even when we’re wearing our masks, so all of clients who are coming can be assured that they’re going to have a great time.
Specifically around arriving at Sandals, we have the Sandals Platinum Protocol which is outlined on our website. There’s a 18 touch point practice in place for ensuring our guests arrive safely, fully enjoy themselves and everything Sandals has to offer, and we take care of them from their arrival to the airport, where we start taking care of our clients. As always, we take care of them until we get them to the airport on their way home again.
Coming to Sandals Negril, they are placed on their transfer to us. Just a note about transfers, we have reduced the numbers that we would normally have previously on our transfers, so we can ensure that we keep the physical distancing for our guests. Our transfers are all sanitized, the drivers are all wearing their masks, they have their sanitizers and sanitization is done before pickup and after drop off for our guest.
Guests on our resort are met upon arrival with a special greeting and it’s important that we maintain the experience, we are all about making sure that our guests have a grand time when they’re with us.
Lois: Where are your clients coming from right now?
Fabriella: We have a number of clients coming from the USA at the moment, and as we go day by day, the occupancy numbers change. Occupancy rates are increasing and we’re seeing more guests from different countries.
We’re looking forward to serving more and more clients- we’ve felt the decrease in travel and we understand that travellers are shy during this time period. We’ve implemented all sorts of measures to ensure that our guests, wherever they’re from, remain safe while they’re with us.
At the end of the day, we have always put our guests’ comfort and safety as a top priority, but we also take special care to ensure that our team members on the resort are well cared for.
Lois: The Jamaica Tourist Board has been communicating about the measures in place for the country, and in case anyone is wondering, our travel agency does currently have travellers in Jamaica! They are having a wonderful time, the safety measures are put in place to ensure that everybody remains healthy, and risks are minimized as much as possible. Fabriella, can you speak a little more about the resort experience itself?
Fabriella: As a brand and as a resort, both Sandals and the resorts at Sandals Negril, we put a lot of importance on training. For this reason, all of the staff here have been trained extensively on best practices for every safety procedure.
At the end of the day, our team members are responsible for interacting with our guests and helping to create the experience that people have come to know and love from Sandals.
Kitchen staff are wearing masks, wait staff are following the recommended procedures and maintaining social distancing, we want to make sure you can enjoy the fabulous cuisine on our resorts and to do so safely.
Everything we do for our clients is safe while they’re having fun.
Meredith: Even staff members who don’t regularly interact with guests have undergone considerable training, and they’re using hospital-grade cleaners to clean every room. The feel of the guest room is definitely not like a hospital room, but your guest room is cleaned like a hospital room.
The interior of air conditioning units for each guest room are all cleaned between each and every guest and the same procedure goes for the shared spaces on a regular basis.
This is just a few of the things Sandals is doing.
Another detail to give you an example of the level of care taken on our resorts, each guest room is physically sealed after cleaning so nobody will be in your room until you arrive.
Sandals is implementing a new check-in system where guests will do their check-in at home, so for people who prefer to limit their interaction in close quarters with other people.
Lois: One of the questions that’s been asked has been around the consistency of the experience. For example, with the fewer guests than normal, perhaps not all the restaurants will be open every day, but there is still a lot of variety of restaurants that are open for those who want to enjoy restaurants. Can you confirm this and speak a little about it?
Fabriella: Yes, that’s correct! There are lots of options for dining, and throughout the duration of someone’s stay, they will have the opportunity to dine at any of the 5-star gourmet restaurants they choose.
All of our gourmet dining options are available for all of our Sandals guests, so that during the duration of the stay they will have the chance to dine at any one they choose.
Meredith: One of the things that can be considered for people who prefer this option, especially during the pandemic, is to order room service. All of our rooms come with room service and a wide array of fantastic meals can be ordered and delivered to the rooms. This room service has been popular with guests for decades, really, and people are opting for this whenever they want.
Lois: Well, we want to thank you for this interview, Fabriella, it’s been great to hear from you on the resort in Sandals Negril! We have seen many travellers planning their trips for the next 6-12 months as some people look forward to the opportunity to travel.
As always, get in touch with any questions you have about booking your dream trip!