A Sandals resort in Barbados has recently re-opened but the government isn’t happy about its approach. Here’s why Sandals is disputing the Government of Barbados claims.
Sandals Barbados Re-Opened
Sandals, the adults-only all-inclusive resort, and Beaches, the family all-inclusive equivalent have struggled to operate their business through the pandemic. Unlike business hotels on the US mainland, there is little opportunity to pivot for the high-end resort group.
Locations throughout the Caribbean for the chain have been closed as many of its island-nation hosts isolate borders more stringently than the rest of the world. The Sandals Barbados is known for white-sand beaches, butler service, the Red Lane spa, extensive room service, stunning ocean views, scuba diving and other water sports.
But Barbados has tried to attract long term, remote workers for months through its Welcome Stamp program. Sandals Barbados was designated as an official quarantine hotel for the island. But things have not gone as planned.
Barbados Government Alleges COVID-19 Breaches, Sandals Disputes
The government of Barbados has stripped Sandals of the vaunted designation in a public row. A surprise to Sandals, Royal Barbados officials didn’t notify the hotel first. They cited “verified claims” that the hotel was not following SARS COV-2 (COVID-19) protocol.
Sandals forewent their traditionally reserved nature and publicly stated:
“We do hope that the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer, who have not yet been to our hotel to see the protocols in operation, can prioritise a visit to do so.” – Barbados Today
The Ministry of Health, responsible for public health matters much as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in the United States, later stated that there were no violations by Sandals nor its guests. This only added to the beguilement of Sandals officials.
Sandals appeared to exceed the requirements the country outlined. They split the property’s buildings to allow for a sterile quarantine building. Once guests met health qualifications they could move to the resort offering a more complete experience with access to fitness centers and even the Crystal Lagoon swim-up suites.
Three guests were the source of the Ministry’s consternation, however, none of them were Sandals guests. Further adding to the confusion, the Ministry had officials stationed at the property located on Dover Beach none of whom indicated any of the alleged violations.
Despite Barbados officials agreeing that the purported violators were not guests of the property and that they had not notified them of the verified claims, they have not reinstated hotel’s quarantine designation.
What This Means for Sandals, Other Resorts
Much of the concern appears to follow concerns from the Sandals resort in the Caribbean nation of Grenada, unrelated to Barbados. The prior week some 44 cases had been alleged in an outbreak at the property. But the Jamaican-based resort didn’t appear to have done anything wrong in Barbados making the move odd, and the penalty unearned.
Much like Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, or any other hotel chain, the properties are run independently by local management. They all adhere to local guidelines and shouldn’t be grouped together for sins committed by other properties abroad sharing name only. Other Sandals properties shouldn’t be subjected to penalties by issues at properties elsewhere.
Further, at least in the case of Sandals Barbados, the hotel did nothing wrong nor did its guests as the Barbados officials stated. It appears the hotel was arbitrarily penalized and other hotels should be wary of the Barbados government doing the same to them.
With a pair of COVID-19 vaccines now available, it’s possible this will be an issue of the past. But for now, the issue remains for resort chains like Sandals that invested tens of millions only for a government to shut them down despite no reported issues. I am as confused as Sandals officials are about the issue, except that it appears power is unchecked and hotels and resorts will be a victim to the whims of officials who need not specify their contention before attributing malfeasance to the property.
What do you think? Did the government of Barbados act properly? How should Sandals or other Barbados hotels respond?