The operator of one of Barbados’ most popular hotels believes the strict adherence to rigorous COVID-19 protocols will be a big selling point for wooing more tourists to the destination over the coming months.
This assessment comes as Minister of Tourism and International Transport Lisa Cummins reported that just over two dozen of the island’s almost 100 hotel properties have reopened, and a growing number of them were showing an interest in serving as quarantine facilities as they anticipate an increase in visitors to the island.
Owner of the Crane Resorts Paul Doyle told reporters on Friday that he was pleased with the protocols in place from the time guests arrive at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), to their length of stay at the St Philip property.
The Crane Resort was one of the first properties to reopen, following the closure of hotels in early April. It was also one of the first to volunteer to be a quarantine facility.
“There is a whole lot of people who just need to destress and get into an environment like we have in Barbados, where you don’t need to fear for your life because you are walking by somebody; and we need to keep it that way,” said Doyle.
“We want to show people a great vacation experience, but we are also strict on following protocols. There is no question you have to follow them . . . . I think Barbados selling the fact that we are strict will win us far more business. Any business that we lose by doing that we don’t mind losing. That will help sell us as a country.”
Doyle added: “We are in such a wonderful position here because we have done a great job – the Government and the people of Barbados – really [controlling] this thing. To have zero spread in the community is amazing. So it gives people a lot of confidence.”
He was speaking ahead of a tour of his St Philip hotel, which was designed to give journalists and tourism officials a first-hand view of how the hotel and staff had adopted to the new protocols while welcoming guests.
Stating that the service at the airport was great and the process seamless, Doyle said The Crane then provided an equally acceptable experience and was the ideal place to quarantine.
“We are lucky here at the Crane because we were built for social distancing in 1887. We have so much space and people are just spread out. We take it for granted but that is how we have always lived here,” he said.
Doyle explained that guests were given coloured armbands based on whether they had the virus, were awaiting a second test, or were COVID-19 negative.
He said the people who were in quarantine were kept separate from those who were not, and they used different pools.
The sprawling property is dotted with clear signage reminding guests and workers to wear their masks, sanitize and wash their hands and practice physical distancing.
Chief Marketing Officer at The Crane, Annmarrie Thompson said staff at the hotel were coping very well, pointing out that they were constantly undergoing training.
She also stated that some staff members had the opportunity to work remotely if they chose to.
“Everyone is pleased with what has been done and everyone is working together to make sure that we support Barbados to get people back here,” Thompson said.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Lisa Cummins commended the operators of The Crane for the measures being taken.
She said since the resort’s reopening more than two months ago, several other properties have stepped up to the plate.
“So now we have close to 25 hotels that have reopened, and a growing number of them that continue to indicate that they are preparing to reopen and willing to do both quarantine and self-isolation,” she said.
“We really want to be able to say out there, Barbados and our health officials have done a phenomenal job at keeping us safe. They have done a tremendous job of capturing, I would want to say, 99 per cent of all cases at the border.
“That really is a credit to our health officials and a major selling point for our tourism product,” she added.
Pointing to new protocols to take effect on October 1, she said individuals coming to Barbados will require a test on the second day of their arrival despite taking a test 72-hours prior to travel.
Cummins disclosed that the promised test at the Heathrow Airport could be in place in just over a week, as she continued to have meetings with airline partners and airport officials to “open new gateways coming out of the UK”.