Anguilla has been protected from COVID by creating a bubble and closing their borders. While this held the pandemic at bay it has consequences for the travel industry. Diego Angarita tells us how they have weathered the storm and are positive for the future.
How has your leadership style helped you over the past year?
I have always considered myself to be flexible and adaptable, which has really helped me to navigate the challenges of the past year and embrace new ways of communicating with colleagues, guests and the local community. In many ways, weathering the uncertainty created by the pandemic has brought our team closer together and I am incredibly proud of how we have supported each other as we continue to adapt.
Your experience is unique since you are an island destination that has not seen a spike in COVID cases. Can you tell us about it?
Anguilla is and has been a true oasis during COVID. As of April 12, the island has only seen 29 confirmed cases. The government of Anguilla made the difficult decision to close their borders a year ago to ensure the protection and wellbeing of all the residents on the island. In November 2020, we reopened for visitors with strict entry protocols and a “bubble” concept. Whilst this has affected the volume of visitors we have seen visit the island, at the same time we have earned the reputation as one of the safest destinations to travel worldwide. As I greet guests daily, they always share how excited they are to travel and why they picked Anguilla, more specifically Four Seasons.
What changes did you make to operations as legislation and demand fluctuated?
Early summer of 2020, Four Seasons as a brand entered into a consulting agreement with John Hopkins Medicine International to help launch our Lead With Care program. The program not only emphasizes already common procedures such as hand sanitizer, masks, and increased cleaning protocols, it also focuses on our training to ensure we are constantly delivering a guest experience that takes safety into consideration.
Additionally, we spotted emerging trends such as guests seeking longer stays for remote work and homeschooling, for which our villas are the perfect base. It was also crucial for us to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our guests. This included quickly arranging on-site testing for guests returning to the US, amending our cancellation policies, re-arranging our food & beverage outlets to ensure social distancing, and being a constant support to guests in line with protocol arrangements. It has been a team effort and we continue to work hand in hand with the Anguilla government and local competitors to continue post-pandemic recovery.
Are you seeing recovery yet? What do you anticipate for the second half of this year?
Yes, we are seeing a recovery as early as this Summer (2021) and anticipate Q4 to be even better than 2019. From the inquiries we have been receiving thus far, we expect this positive booking stream to continue into 2022.
What can pandemic weary guests enjoy at your resort?
Four Seasons Anguilla is truly ideal for weary travelers right now, with over 30 acres of pristine landscapes to explore. We are aware that our guests have been through a difficult time and they don’t just want an escape; they need an escape. Although the care and comfort of our guest has always been our #1 priority, we are even more aware of the enormity of our responsibility to exceed their expectations. For many, their stay at Four Seasons Anguilla will be their first vacation in over a year so we are filled with gratitude and could not be more honored that they have chosen to spend it with us.