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Family Island Hotels In Re-Open 'Wait And See'

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

Family island resorts yesterday said they remain in “watch and see” mode over the sector's scheduled November 1 re-opening due to ongoing COVID-19 uncertainties at home and abroad.

Dr Larry Carroll, owner/operator of Abaco's Sandpiper Inn, told Tribune Business: "The hotel is closed and we are in a watch and see mode. I will wait and see what happens after the next three or so weeks, and only then make a decision about re-opening. Our citizens are not yet resolved to beat this monster, so until then we wait.

"To gear up to open will cost a lot. Payroll will kick in, and we will need a break-even in revenue to meet payroll before we start to lose money like we saw in the July attempt. So until we know we are able to attract sufficient sustainable guest flow, opening becomes a fool’s move. This is not including the possibility of getting staff and/or guests infected. That is all another story.”

Dr Carroll said the Sandpiper Inn has reservations booked around the US Thanksgiving Day holiday in late November, “but the question is whether it is worth the great financial outlay to re-open considering the uncertainty of the future months with all that is going on around us.

"For example American politics and untamed COVID-19, and our untamed COVID-19. Too many unknowns and a daily changing status makes the decision very difficult. I will wait and see," he reiterated.

Jeff Birch, owner/operator of the Small Hope Bay Lodge in Fresh Creek, Andros, said: “We’re doing well. We open on November 3 unless there are further complications with the Government protocols."

When asked if he had bookings, he responded: “Yes, but very soft. However, it is my hope if we open they will come, especially after the US election. New Year’s bookings are strong. The rest are soft with several periods having none".

Asked if January will see a return to business volumes approaching normal, Mr Birch added: “I can't say that. January is basically empty. It is mostly repeat clients. So we are still very unsure of the future.”

Matt Brear, general manager of the Cape Santa Maria resort in Long Island, said: "We are still struggling with the availability of the COVID-19 rapid tests, but we are opening up on November 1."

Long Island and Cat Island are two islands that, while open to receive guests on November 1, are not eligible to give rapid COVID-19 tests at the ports of entry.

When asked if the lack of rapid tests at the borders is turning potential visitors away, Mr Brear said: “Yes. They are asking for tests. Yes, they are trying to see how they can get here."

Cheryl Bastian, general manager of Swains Cay Lodge in Fresh Creek, Andros, said: “The opening is supposed to be November 1 at the last Prime Minister’s speech. They are working on the testing procedure with the additional antigen test on arrival as of November 1 and how the procedure will be.

"What we had rebooked for January, February and beyond. People are not booking. So much uncertainty on the Bahamas given the surge. We need to reduce the COVID-19 rates in Nassau and promote a low COVID-19 environment. Bahamians need to better, although many are co-operating.”

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