Grotto Bay ‘excited’ with bookings at reopening
Hotel occupancy levels viewed through the lens of the Covid-19 pandemic have left a resort's general manager J.P. Martens “excited”.
Mr Martens, of Grotto Bay Beach Resort, said: “If it was a regular year, I would be crying right now at the numbers I am looking at.
“But not being a regular year, I am excited about the numbers I am looking at. It is not great, by far, but it's a good start. You have got to start somewhere.”
Mr Martens was speaking as he and hotel staff prepared for tomorrow's reopening of the 201-room property on the water's edge at Bailey's Bay in Hamilton Parish.
He was most encouraged by the nature of advance bookings for the hotel.
Mr Martens revealed: “The good news is it's overseas business. We are able to attract visitors to the island, which is so important.”
But he acknowledged that these are “very, very challenging times in the hotel business” and in the travel industry generally.
Mr Martens said: “The occupancies we are expecting for at least another year, I would say, will be well below what we normally do.
“Through rotation, we will employ as many people as we can and, at the same time, ensure that we serve our guests properly over the next two years if there is a comeback in tourism and we can get back to normal. It's going to be a while.”
He added: “Truthfully, at least in our case, our reopening is mostly due to getting our employees back on the payroll and working and earning income.
“It is more expensive to be open than to be closed.”
Mr Martens said travel restrictions and rules would probably remain in place for another eight months, but he doubted that all travellers would wait that long before taking trips.
He predicted: “I don't think Americans will sit on the couch much longer before they want to get out. People will not hold out for eight months.
“I do believe that some will start travelling earlier than others. I do believe there will be some demand.”
Mr Martens said he thought Bermuda's skilful handling of the pandemic would aid the island's tourism revival.
He said: “Due to the country doing as well as it has with preventing a widespread outbreak, we might be able to get back a little quicker than other countries.
“The fact we have done as well will do well in the market.
“There will be pent-up demand for travel again, and one thing people will be looking for is a safe place to go to, and somewhere not too far.”
A recent trip to North Carolina for a family funeral provided Mr Martens with a first-hand look at the new travelling experience.
He said: “I was very impressed with the feeling I got from travelling on Delta.
“Middle seats on the plane were empty, airports were very quiet and people wore face masks throughout the flight.
“Everyone adhered to the new boarding and deplaning rules and, overall, the experience made me feel safe.
“On arrival in Bermuda, the health department did a phenomenal job in terms of friendliness, efficiency and speed. The flight, except for the middle seats, was pretty much full.”
Mr Martens said the last tourist departed Grotto Bay on the afternoon of March 20, the final day that the airport was open to commercial traffic, but the hotel remained open on a limited basis to accommodate quarantine guests and cargo jet crews.