The Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.
By Khrisna Russell
Tribune Chief Reporter
ATLANTIS’ announcement yesterday that the resort will close until May 15 signals a “rough ride” economically for the country, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar told The Tribune, adding he suspected the extended time frame was due to global uncertainty over COVID-19.
In a letter to workers, Atlantis’ president and managing director Audry Oswell said the resort would close yesterday beginning at 3pm through until mid-May.
At such time, she said the mega resort would assess the situation and make a determination on re-opening.
Recognising the burden this places on every worker, Ms Oswell said officials were working on a plan to assist employees during this difficult time.
The turn of events follows the hotel’s earlier furlough of workers for four weeks as COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on the local tourism sector and disrupted economies around the world.
Given these circumstances, Mr D’Aguilar said he was not surprised by the announcement.
“Tourism is ground to a halt,” he said.
“The next question is not only do you have to estimate how long this virus is going to grip the United States, causing everyone to stay in place. Here it is March 25, I guess they are probably assuming based on what is being said at this time that the US, especially the eastern seaboard, is in the midst of a surge, and we haven’t peaked yet.
“I guess they assume there are a couple of weeks left still with it. So I presume that they are pulling the trigger for seven weeks estimating that there is evidence available now that this could possibly run four to five weeks optimistically and then people then have to consider once again if and when they would be going on vacation.
“There is a lot of uncertainty out there, which is causing people to be uncertain.
“Even if they get a handle on this, there will be a while before a cure for people to again be comfortable with moving around.
“This will be bumpy and we’re in for a rough ride.”
In a separate letter to guests posted on Atlantis’ website, Ms Oswell further addressed concerns about reservations.
She wrote: “… We are navigating this current situation minute-by-minute, day-by-day, adjusting as we learn more. One thing remains constant: nothing matters more than the health, safety and well-being of our team members, guests and communities. For those of us who find purpose and passion in bringing people together, we must confront the reality that togetherness may be a threat to the health and safety of our community and loved ones at this time.
“With this in mind, we have made the decision to temporarily close Atlantis Paradise Island from Wednesday, March 25, 2020 through Friday, May 15, 2020, at which time we will assess whether or not it is safe to re-open. Please continue to visit our website or stay connected to us on social media for the latest updates.
“We understand that this will be a hard time for everyone in our Atlantis family, but we believe it is unequivocally the necessary and responsible action to keep everyone safe. As Aristotle once said, ‘Even calamities have a soul and can teach us a wise life.’
“During this stressful time,” Ms Oswell continued, “we want to alleviate any additional worry you might have about your upcoming reservation. Our dedicated team of reservation agents will be reaching out to you personally to assist you with refunds, credit vouchers or rescheduling your planned vacation. This way you can spend less time reaching us and more time with your loved ones.”
She said the resort planned to use the temporary closure to make improvements to the hotel in time to welcome guests back.
“In 1998 the ‘Lost City of Atlantis’ magically soared from the sea on an island called Paradise. I assure you Atlantis will ascend again,” Ms Oswell said.