By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
With less than 24-hours remaining ahead of the reopening of the territory’s borders to tourists, Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals and Leverick Bay Resort & Marina remain positive as bookings continue to be placed ahead of the territory’s December 1 date.
This is according to the properties’ Director of Operations, Sharon Flax-Brutus who told BVI News the two companies passed local inspections of the necessary COVID-19 measures needed ahead of the arrival of guests.
She said: “We have bookings. What the guests are doing though; they were waiting for the Gateway Portal to open to see what the requirements are. Historically, this week and next are the final heavy booking weeks if a guest is planning to come for our festive events.”
She added: “We’re running a promotion for the Christmas season in which some of our villas are discounted up to 40 percent. We also put together a 14-nights package for guests who want to stay longer and we’ll see what happens within the next two weeks.”
In-house protocols tested during lockdown
Flax-Brutus attested to her organisation’s readiness, stating that COVID-19 protocols have been embedded into the everyday operations of the companies and have been tried and tested in the past months.
“We’ve been prepared because we have not been closed. I started in July with Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals and Leverick Bay and they were already operating from June. So, for us, it was just a matter of seeing what the protocols that government was putting in place and see if they mesh with what we were doing because we’ve had ongoing guests during the lockdown. We’ve had staycation guests and we use that opportunity to test out our in-house protocols,” she explained.
No lay-offs during 9-month border-closure
The director of operations also said that both companies managed to keep all combined 60 employees employed during the lockdown and curfew periods.
She said this feat was attainable due to the support of locals who took advantage of the many specials and policy changes which were designed to attract local business in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As it relates to the villas, we essentially changed the way that we were doing business. In the villa operations for most villas in the BVI it’s a minimum of seven nights, either a five-night or a seven-night stay. What we did is to reduce our minimum stay to three nights with the understanding that most locals, especially when it’s not an extensive holiday, would be more inclined to have a long weekend and that was relatively successful for us until we hit that second lockdown which was in August,” Flax-Brutus stated.
She added: “We’ve been steady, we’ve not been full. But, for example, during the August festival weekend, we ran about 85 percent in the villas at that time. So we’ve flexed and for us the most important thing was to try to keep our employees working. We have not laid off any employees, yes, they have been working on reduced hours, but it’s important to keep the employees working.”
Virgin Gorda Villa Rental manages a portfolio of approximately 20 luxury villas while Leverick Bay Resort & Marina consists of 16 hotel rooms, four condominiums, and is attached to a 35-slip marina.
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