We note with concern and hereby express our consternation in relation to the misrepresentation and mixed messages, being pushed from divers ’quarters, in respect of Hodges Bay Resort & Spa’s compliance with the established COVID19 protocols of the Ministry of Health of Antigua & Barbuda and the erection of a barrier – which has since been taken down- while providing an alternate and safer way for the public to access the beach during the pandemic.
These wild and irresponsible comments represent, among others, poor judgment and has negatively impacted the experience of our guests, Antigua and Barbuda’s age-long reputation for the privacy of visitors to its shores, and the management and staff who are committed to being responsible agents and actors during this most critical period of great challenge and circumstances occasioned by the COVID19 pandemic.
Over the past few days, the public has called to question Hodges Bay Resort & Spa’s compliance with the established COVID19 protocols of the Ministry of Health of Antigua & Barbuda. We wish to state categorically that Hodges Bay Resort & Spa has been complying with and continue to honour and observe the COVID19 protocols with which we were provided by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.
We are sympathetic to concerns properly raised, in some quarters and genuinely intend to continue reviewing our practices during these changing times.
We have had discussions with the Minister of Tourism, Honourable Charles Fernandez as well as the Directors & Executives of the Antigua & Barbuda Hotels & Tourism Association on the concerns and stand ready to continue our discussions with the government of Antigua and Barbuda as well as any relevant stakeholders in fashioning a strategy to balance, on the one hand, the continuous inflow of visitors to the shores of this lovely island, and on the other to manage the possible risks to staff and guests, inherent in operating this resort during these surreal times.
In May 2020, our team was instrumental in the process of developing the initial protocols established for the hospitality industry. In the interest of safeguarding our staff, their families and by extension the community, the protocols put in place for our resort operations far exceeded the established protocols. We implemented electronic wellness reporting which facilitates our staff reporting first signs of illness before reporting for duty. To our knowledge, we are the only hotel that implemented this feature of COVID19 protocols. We went further and expressed to our employees that if they don’t feel well, let us know and immediately we will arrange medical assessment and COVID19 testing at no cost to the employee.
Our highest priority remains the safeguarding of our staff, their families and the Antiguan & Barbudan community in which we operate. There has been much social media debate about Hodges Bay Resort & Spa blocking access to the public beach. The beaches of this beautiful twin-island state is an asset of all Antiguans and Barbudans. As a nation whose economy is driven by tourism, we share the beaches with visitors to our shores. At no point were locals ever denied access to the beach. This has always been and will continue to be the case.
On the day in question, we had several celebrities in-house and we learnt of a social media personality who decided to invite his followers to come to the beach at Hodges Bay. Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to erect a barrier to all for flow-controlled access given the very small size of the beach, the need to be able to support the government’s contact tracing initiatives and the need to protect the Hodges Bay Resort Bubble. Having noticed that the crowd was not overwhelming we immediately removed the barrier.
We are a tourism-dependent country, and we are at a stage where the competition is very great. We at Hodges Bay Resort & Spa are doing all we can to keep our staff and guests safe and to provide an income for our employees so they can continue to support their families.
We wish to remind all, that racial slurs and insult on social media does not help our industry and only damages the prospect for a bounce-back in tourism of Antigua and Barbuda at a time when we are most vulnerable. We as a society are better and can do better than that.
Since the racial slurs and insults, we have lost forward bookings and would have had to refund a number of our in-house guests as a measure of assurance that everything is okay. This type of behaviour is simply not good for our tourism product. During this pandemic, we are one of a few Hotels that never closed its doors, and we continue to fight through this pandemic with our wonderful team of employees who we commend for their bravery and gallant efforts as we fight for every dollar available in the marketplace to support them and their families.
We continue to offer our support and play our part in the struggle to keep Antigua and Barbuda a safe place for all during these times of great economic stress and instability occasioned by the COVID19 pandemic.