Bermuda: Six hotels close over COVID-19

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Bermuda: Six hotels close over COVID-19
Crisis management: Clarence Hofheins, Cambridge Beaches general manager (File photograph)
Crisis management: Clarence Hofheins, Cambridge Beaches general manager (File photograph)

(ROYAL GAZETTE) – At least six hotels will be shuttered this weekend because of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

Cambridge Beaches in Sandys and the Hamilton Princess will close on a temporary basis on Saturday night and Elbow Beach in Paget and The Reefs in Southampton will shut from Sunday.

The Rosedon Hotel in Pembroke suspended operations yesterday, while the Grotto Bay Beach Resort will close on Friday afternoon.

Guests who were due to arrive at island resorts were offered the chance to reschedule or cancel, with deposits in most cases held over for future bookings.

David Dodwell Jr, general manager of The Reefs, said: “We want to do everything we can to protect the safety of our guests and staff. We hope to reopen upon the ending of the self-quarantine period on April 1.

However, this may depend on any further restrictions or available airline service, which could impact the ability for our guests to visit and enjoy our well-known Bermuda hospitality.

“We are working with all of our affected guests and offering them the ability to cancel or rebook to a later date at no charge.

“At this time, we are doing everything we can to support our amazing team members who are all impacted by this very difficult decision and the current travel climate.”

Stephen Todd, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said yesterday that the closures were a “direct result” of the Government’s requirement for all arrivals from March 17 to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Mr Todd added that the BHA supported the Government’s “proactive approach” to minimising the effects of Covid-19.

He added: “This is a quite unique situation and not like anything we’ve previously seen.”

Mr Todd said: “Through the board of directors at the Bermuda Hotel Association and through our wider membership, we are looking at the overall impact to our industry colleagues.

“We are not able to provide employment opportunities to the majority of our colleagues so we are looking to see, from a property to property standpoint, how we can support them.

“We also want to work with the Bermuda Government, wider industry partners and the financial institutions because we believe that some relief needs to be provided on behalf of all interested parties.”

Nik Bhola, the general manager at Coral Beach and Tennis Club, said that the resort’s room operations had “pretty much come to a halt” although food and drink operations remained open.

Mr Bhola said that the resort would have “ramped up” at this time of year and its team had been looking forward to the Bermuda Breeze tennis tournament and United States Tennis Association’s exhibition, all postponed because of the virus spread.

He explained: “We have seen cancellations as a result of that.

“We were looking forward to a busy club and the start of our season, and rolling into Easter, which is obviously a busy time for us as well.”

He added that weddings scheduled at the venue for next month had been moved to the autumn.

Mr Bhola said maintenance teams and cleaning staff at the resort were busy, but “unfortunately the work isn’t there” for staff members in other departments.

He added that some people were “on layoff, they’re not on full schedules”.

Mr Bhola was confident the sector can bounce back.

He said: “At our club, most people have postponed their trip, they’re quite happy to reschedule their visits, but they’re not cancelling.”

The Hamilton Princess announced this afternoon that it would “cease normal operations” from 5pm on Saturday until May 15.

A spokeswoman said: “This decision will be regularly reviewed based on the ever changing environment and developments.

“This decision was not made lightly but has been made with the wellbeing of our guests, colleagues at the forefront, and the wider Bermuda community.

“We have committed to covering total health insurance payments for all our colleagues.”

A message on the Elbow Beach website said it would close from Sunday until May 6.

It added: “On any existing guest reservations, we would like to offer a one-year rollover allowing you to keep your deposit on the books for travel one year from your original travel date.”

Clarence Hofheins, the general manager at Cambridge Beaches, told guests: “Lodging, restaurant, and spa services will remain open for those guests currently lodging at Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, until the evening of Saturday, March 21.”

Mr Hofheins said that the resort would reopen once the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals ended.

He added: “We are in close communications with our employees and we are assisting them through this challenging time.”

A letter posted on the Fairmont Southampton website told guests: “We want you to have the opportunity to experience the true magic of Bermuda.

“Please contact us to reschedule, or cancel, your stay with us.”

At The Reefs, customers were told online that “additional flexibility” was available for guests who needed to change their plans.

The Rosewood Bermuda told its guests about the required quarantine 14-day period for arrivals from March 17.

It said: “Bermuda health personnel will be in communication with guests during this period to monitor guest health and status.

“Special arrangements will be made such as in-room dining fulfilment in order to ensure guests are cared for while maintaining the safety of all guests and associates.

“Guests showing no symptoms after the 14-day self-quarantine period will be permitted to move freely on the island.”

The website added: “For reservations booked with travel between March 17 and March 31, 2020, guests may rebook without a fee for up to 12 months, and any deposits will be applied to future reservations.”

Pompano Beach Club said on its website: “With the coronavirus crisis affecting us all in one way or another, if you should decide to cancel a stay that is scheduled to take place prior to May 15, 2020, the resort will either issue you a full refund of your advance deposit/prepayment or allow you to transfer it to a future reservation, without any penalties.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include the temporary closure of the Hamilton Princess and the Grotto Bay Beach Resort.

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