COVID-19 has affected the travel industry dramatically. Bay Gardens Resorts in St. Lucia, is no different, however they started a relief fund for its staff.
They are offering resort credits on future stays to travellers who donate to a relief fund created to support its staff members during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The family-owned group of five properties, which suspended its operations in mid-March, launched the fund to augment the enterprise’s cash support that has helped to keep its 350-member workforce off the breadline.
“For the past 25 years, Bay Gardens Resorts has been St. Lucia’s largest locally owned and operated hotel chain. Much, if not all, of our success can be attributed to our employees and our guests who we consider an extension of our family,” said Bay Gardens Executive Director Sanovnik Destang as he launched the fund.
“We are grateful that all our employees and the majority of the population of St. Lucia have been spared from the virus itself. However, as you all know, the economic fallout of this pandemic has affected everyone, including some of you, our valued guests,” he stated in a communication to friends of the hotel.
For contributions between US$100 and $250, the resort will reward donors “dollar-for-dollar” with gift vouchers that can be used towards a future stay at any Bay Gardens Resorts property.
In the context of COVID-19 global travel restrictions and the local government-mandated scale-down of non-essential business activity, Bay Gardens’ management team helped to cushion the impact of the loss of revenues by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide income support to its employees, who received a minimum of 50 percent of their base salary, up to a maximum of 75 percent.
Health insurance benefits have also been continued, Destang explained, adding that emotional and mental health counseling services are also available to employees.
For the months of May and June, the Government of St. Lucia, through the National Insurance Corporation (NIC), will provide income support to employees who have lost their income as a result of COVID-19. Bay Gardens has made arrangements to administer these payments to affected staff on behalf of NIC.
“However, even with the income support that we have provided or facilitated, our staff are still going to be severely impacted. Virtually all of them would have suffered major income losses for the months of April through June with no guarantee of a resumption of normality after June,” Destang lamented.
The esteemed hotelier is hopeful operations will resume on June 4, 2020, but will be guided by local and international public health officials and tourism authorities.
“Our team is looking forward to welcoming you back to St. Lucia and to Bay Gardens Resorts when the time is right. For now, stay safe and stay healthy so that we can all travel tomorrow,” Destang stated in his appeal, thanking readers for their “care, concern, and generosity.”
Governor General Award recipient Helen Hatzis lives to travel. A xenophile at heart, she continues to travel the world and shares her experience on Trip Jaunt, an online travel community and hub she co-founded in 2016. Helen is a member of North American Travel Journalists Association and the Academy of Canadian Film and Television.