Hotels across Barbados are putting on final touches as they prepare their properties to welcome the first guests since closing their doors over three months ago.
While some said they would be opening August 1, others are targeting September or October for a return to business.
Those who spoke with Barbados TODAY also indicated that while they welcomed national protocols, they have also implemented their own.
In addition to installing several hand-sanitizing stations across their properties, some have also installed plexiglass at the front desks and other areas, started training with staff and instituted measures to have the temperature of all staff and guests checked.
Over at the Barbados Beach Club, which is one of several hotels set to open on August 1, workmen were busy ensuring that all systems were in place.
General Manager Gerardo Rodriguez said he was pleased to see that the island was welcoming guests once again.
“The guests will be safe if we are safe. That is our motto right now, if our staff is safe the guests will be safer,” he said.
“The staff, before they start to work, have to scan themselves into a face temperature recognition, they go into the washroom that is right next to it and they clean their hands, and before they walk in they have to make sure they have on a mask. And obviously they have the hand sanitizer before they come in,” Rodriguez explained.
He said there have been a lot of enquiries from locals and overseas potential guests who were eager to visit the Maxwell Coast Road hotel, which offers an all-inclusive staycation package.
With several UK-based flights scheduled to return to Barbados, starting with British Airways on July 22 and Virgin Atlantic on August 1, Rodriguez said he has already had several forward bookings from the European market.
However, he made it clear that he did not expect occupancy levels to reach as high as 70 per cent in any hurry, a sentiment that was echoed by other hoteliers.
“If we have ten or 15 reservations for the first day so be it. We are going to open with that because we have to start at some point,” he said.
Giving an outlook for the short to medium-term Rodriguez said in addition to bookings from international and regional travellers, he was expecting locals to take up deals currently on offer.
“Our local market was really strong and is still strong. We have requests. So we do have a good outlook, fingers crossed, that everything goes well,” he said.
Rodriguez said he was pleased with Government’s decision to delay arrivals from the US, pointing out that some states were even limiting or banning visitors from other states.
Like other hoteliers, Rodriguez told Barbados TODAY while some staff members were already back out and others were expected to start August 1, he would be gradually bringing back others.
“We have some staff working. We have reservations open. Sales is open and maintenance is working as well,” he said.
The majority of hotel staff members were laid off between March and April.
In the middle of June Government made changes to the Severance Payment Act, extending the length of time for a worker to be laid-off before being able to make a claim for severance.
It was changed from a minimum of 13 consecutive weeks to 22 consecutive weeks, giving employers who laid off employees between March 1 and May 30 more time to rehire those workers.
While the Sugar Bay Hotel is expected to open on October 1, sister property, the Bougainvillea Barbados Beach Resort is one of those looking forward to a August 1 re-opening date.
Operations Manager of Bougainvillea Barbados Dawn Kirton said they were moving full steam ahead with renovations and making sure all protocols were in place.
“We are scheduling training for our staff before they come back to work and we are reaching out to our tour operator partners, direct guests and via our social media, letting them know what the protocols are for entering the island, and what to expect when they get here,” said Kirton.
She said she was eagerly looking forward to welcoming guests, pointing out that she expected things to pick back up slowly.
“Most of the comments we are getting from our past guests and people who are expressing interest is for later in the year and definitely for next year,” she said.
“So we are optimistic that if things worldwide can be brought under control a bit more we can see a little light at the tunnel later in the year,” said Kirton.
As part of the protocols, staff and guests across the sector will also be required to practice social distancing.
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.