Pompano Beach to shut until March with 75 staff laid off
A West End resort closed its doors until the end of February yesterday putting about 75 staff out of work because of crippling losses caused by coronavirus.
Lawrence Lamb, the general manager and part-owner of the family-run Pompano Beach Club in Southampton, said that fear of Covid-19 and restrictions on travel had forced the hotel’s hand.
Mr Lamb, whose family has operated the ocean front resort since 1956, said that losses for September were double what they were when the hotel was closed at the height of the pandemic.
He added the airlift to Bermuda continued to “fall apart” and highlighted the recent British Airways decision to suspend flights to the island as Britain grapples with spikes in coronavirus cases.
Mr Lamb said: “We just didn’t see, in the short run, how we could generate enough business to stay open.
“We are all losing a lot of money and we lose less money by being closed than we do by being open.”
He said: “It was lack of demand – the precautions that have kept us very safe down here just choked tourism.”
But he emphasised he accepted the need for strict rules to protect the island against Covid-19.
Mr Lamb said: “I am not criticising the Government, but it certainly impacted tourism.”
He added: “A small business like ours can’t sustain losses like this. That formula won’t work – and that’s island-wide.
Mr Lamb added the hotel took a gamble and reopened in late August to take back staff because management were aware that Government unemployment benefits would soon run out.
But he said that people were reluctant to travel because of restrictions and fear of contracting the illness.
Mr Lamb added:: “There are a good many requirements for someone coming on a vacation.
“People don’t want to have a whole bunch of obstacles put in front of them when they go away on holiday.
“Safety is a highly important part of someone going away on a trip, especially right now.
“People that are elderly and have immune-compromised bodies really need to take the coronavirus incredibly seriously.”
He said: “Until a vaccine is available, I don’t think people will be taking vacations and travelling through airports.”
But Mr Lamb insisted there was some light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel.
He said: “The good news is, when there is a rebound, Bermuda is primed to rebound faster than other places because the Government has done an excellent job of controlling Covid-19 on the island.”
Mr Lamb added that the hotel would remain open between 8am and 7pm for the spa to continue to operate, but there would be no guests and no food and drink services.
He said that reservations staff would be retained and accounting staff would work part-time.
Mr Lamb added that the hotel in normal times employed about 100 staff in the summer and around 75 in the off-season.
He said: “It’s heartbreaking to our business and our staff – our staff are like family to us.
“They have been incredibly understanding because they could see the writing on the wall.
“There is very little overseas travel. The staycations helped a bit in the summer months, but with the schools going back, that trickled away.”
But Mr Lamb said: “We are very optimistic for the future, but we have got to get through this part first.
“Advance bookings for next year look promising, but whether they materialise or not, you never know.
“But it does look hopeful that 2021 will be very positive.”
The Ministry of Tourism and the Bermuda Tourism Authority were contacted for comment, but did not respond by press time.