New ways to guarantee peace of mind
A conversation with Adam Stewart
Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman, Sandals Resorts International, talks to Canadian Travel Press about how resorts will be different with enhanced cleanliness protocols, what they are doing to regain consumer confidence and how the industry should come together to bounce back faster in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Beyond increased health and safety measures and protocols, what are some of the ways you think the travel industry will be different post COVID-19?
I think there will be more focus placed on privacy and experiences in environments that don’t feel crowded. At Sandals Resorts, we created a brand that was built on the philosophy of romance, which requires privacy in mind. Privacy will be considered a new luxury. Our resorts have always offered guests a secluded romantic escape from over-the-water hammocks made for two, dining for two, private off-shore islands offering secluded beaches and pools, personal butlers bringing you your favourite Caribbean cocktails or setting up your in-room private dining, and of course, in luxurious suites outfitted with private plunge pools. It’s fair to say that things will be different once we all emerge from this, but one thing is for certain… guests can still expect the same 5-Star experience they’ve grown accustomed to at Sandals Resorts, and that’s one key differentiator we will never back down on.
From the check-in process to transfers to buffets to gyms and shared pools, what about some specific ways that impact hotels and resorts in particular?
Resorts are taking a look at increased ways to enhance safety standards so that travellers can visit with confidence. For nearly 40 years, Sandals has adhered to the highest standards of cleanliness and safety protocols carried out by our various Quality Inspection Teams and Environmental Health and Safety Managers across all resorts. Our existing industry-leading practices have been enhanced to include several pre-emptive cleanliness measures whereas we have recently introduced a new program called the Sandals Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness. We underwent a thorough research assessment on all points of guest contact throughout our resorts and we were able to focus on integrated advanced hygiene practices at over eighteen key touch points at our resorts. From the moment guests arrive to the entire on-resort experience up until their departure, we have set an enhanced Triple-Check System in place to ensure these heightened cleaning and sanitation measures make for a confident guest experience.
We are also introducing new ways to guarantee the peace of mind guests need to enjoy their vacation with the utmost confidence while maintaining a safe social distance, including: new at-home to in-room check-in; adding more airport transfers with fewer guests per vehicle; extending check-in times between visitors; setting up a safe social distance across restaurants, bars and beaches; having our team members serve at the buffets, expanding the number of daily dive trips offered; replacing handshakes with a nod and a smile; and restricting elevator trips to one couple per trip. Plus, we’re Caribbean-born so we built practically everything in open-air environments for our guests to enjoy, so in times like these, our worry-free vacations can continue on with enhanced health and safety measures in place.
What are some of the biggest challenges you are facing and what advice do you have to overcome them for others in the industry?
Right now, we are laser focused on pushing through to market our resort destinations as the safest place to travel to, and our resorts as the ultimate brand you can trust for a safe, worry-free vacation. The biggest piece of advice I can offer all of those in the industry right now is to continue to work together, not separately. I sit on a board dedicated to tourism in Jamaica, and no matter if we are competitors or not — we are all coming together to share what we have, what we can do, and how safely we can do it to promote travel back to the destination as a whole. We are all an ecosystem that works together — transportation, hotels, attractions, you name it. It sounds cliché but sharing is caring in times like these, and the more we can share, the quicker we will all bounce back to a better place in the travel industry.
What do you think companies like yours will have to do to regain consumer confidence in travelling?
I think trust and confidence go hand and hand. Sandals Resorts’ is a brand that consumers trust and we take great pride in that privilege.
At Sandals Resorts, our Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness is just one of the lengths we have gone to ensure that customers continue to trust in our brand. I believe our brand affinity will become even stronger with these new protocols in place. We have thousands of loyalty members already looking to travel back to our resorts once we reopen, because they already believe in the high-standards we’ve set as a brand and know we will go above and beyond in times like these. A combination of trust and quality, including cleanliness, will be critical to winning over any traveler as we look to the future of hotels and travel, and Sandals will continue to update its measures to fit the needs of its guests.
One of the biggest challenges is the unknowns surrounding when travel will be a go again. How are you handling this?
The way I see things, travel is about curiosity, experiences and adventure. We love looking into the future of the next trip we have planned, the next experience we can try… it’s just what we do. With that said, we’re all being patient – taking things day by day, because travel will come back and when it does, we will be ready to welcome our guests back to the Caribbean with the biggest smiles. Until then, travellers can rest assured knowing that we’re undergoing rigorous training to ensure all team members are versed in our Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness across all 18 resorts. We want to make sure we are reopening to guests in the safest way possible, so that we can continue fueling everyone’s wanderlust.
Do you have anything to add?
During this pandemic, you can count on us to see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep a positive attitude because this too shall pass. And when it does, we’ll be waiting to welcome visitors with a warm Caribbean smile. Our industry will recover and continue to be one of the world’s most important industries in terms of employment, revenues and opportunities. People crave experiences, culture, food, entertainment, and the desire to travel the world is like none other. That’s what our industry is all about. So, stay strong, stay safe and stay committed – we will come out of this and we will continue to provide people with the gift of travel and all of its experiences.