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In this travel report, SPY golf and travel writer John Scott Lewinski explores warm-weather resorts that looked to benefit their communities and employees during the pandemic.
The pandemic left no part of the world untouched. Still, it struck different stretches of the planet in unique ways, based on location and resources. When you consider many of this hemisphere’s most luxurious resorts coexist with some of the world’s poorer communities, those properties have an opportunity to look after their neighbors in desperate times — especially as the Coronavirus sent the world into shutdown.
Resorts From Mexico south through Central American and out into the islands used their properties and their resources to assist both employees and their neighbors in the presence of the Coronavirus and continue to assist as its effects fade.
Live Aqua Beach Resort Punta Cana – Dominican Republic: One of the newest properties in the Liva Aqua family, this all-inclusive resort experience along the Dominican coast offers countless pools and an expanse of perfect beach in a near-perfect climate. Its development and opening slowed during the pandemic, but the venue stayed active in its community during the slowdown.
Enrique Calderon, Chief Operating Officer of La Coleccion Resorts by Fiesta Americana, says the Punta Cana property was conceived to be socially responsible from the start with its careful environmental design and construction practice — including the use of more than 1,700 solar panels. Still, the pandemic backed up the opening of the resort and offered an opportunity for it to step up for the impoverished island.
“We worked with the Dominican government to use Live Aqua Punta Cana as a vaccination center for all of our employees and construction workers,” Calderon says. “We managed to vaccinate the entire staff in two days at the hotel. We find doing good like that is only possible when you work with local authorities and approach people’s needs with a genuine and clear understanding.”
Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resort – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: Tucked into Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific side of Baja, the self-contained, all-inclusive resort destination at the Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resort offers more than 200 suites, the Armonia Spa and access to the world-class Quivira Golf Club (designed by Jack Nicklaus). Pueblo Bonito (and its linked Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort) has a history of aiding the community as the venue served as a temporary shelter for displaced locals after 2014’s Hurricane Odile.
In response to the pandemic, Pueblo Bonito took the lead in making sure its expansive staff were protected from Covid-19 with its detailed Complete Action Plan.
Casa de Campo – Dominican Republic: Home of the legendary, bucket list Teeth of the Dog golf course, Casa de Campo remained fiercely committed to its employees during the darkest days of the Coronavirus crisis. Even when the resort was at a standstill due to travel restrictions and local lockdowns, Casa de Campo kept the property operating and made sure employees could acquire vaccinations before, during and after reopening.
According to Jason Kycek, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, the resort also kept all hands on deck — even at the risk of financial challenges.
“In general, our company did keep everyone employed in conjunction with the government support that was given to assist employers,” Kycek says. “We were one of the few if not the only company here who’s ownership did not furlough anyone.”
Sandals Resorts: With multiple properties throughout the islands, Sandals is the biggest resort developer and operator in the Caribbean. Their Sandals Foundation is in charge of the company’s philanthropic efforts in relation to Covid-19 and other causes.
The foundation’s more recent community efforts include a $2 million vaccination contribution to Jamaica, a post-pandemic back to school sanitation effort in Turks and Caicos, contributions to build hand-washing stations in the Bahamas and donations of digital tablets in Saint Lucia.