Staff heading back to renovated Royal

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

SOME Atlantis workers will return to work for the opening of The Royal on March 11.

According to the resort, those team members must test negative for COVID-19 before returning to work.

There is also a requirement to submit to weekly testing in addition to following health and safety protocols, Atlantis said in a press statement yesterday.

With The Royal resuming guest room operations on March 11, the resort will receive guests there, The Cove and Harborside Resort.

“We are delighted to welcome back additional team members to Atlantis and showcase the newly renovated Royal east tower guest rooms to our guests,” said Audrey Oswell, president and managing director, Atlantis Paradise Island.

“As a result of the comprehensive and effective health and safety protocols at Atlantis, we see even more pent-up demand from our guests to return to The Bahamas, which supported our decision to reopen guestroom operations at The Royal.”

Additionally, Bahamian residents will be offered an exclusive special “staycation” offer with rates starting at $125/night and includes a $25 daily resort credit plus complimentary parking.

Early last month, Atlantis placed multiple workers back on temporary furlough due to “unfavourable occupancy forecasts” for January 2021.

The Paradise Island mega resort, in response to Tribune Business inquiries, said “the lack of adequate airlift” and surge in COVID-19 infections in key US source markets were “compounding factors” that had forced it to return some of the 2,500 staff it recalled for December’s opening to furlough status.

A message sent by Horatio McKenzie, the Atlantis executive director for human resources with responsibility for food and beverage workers, warned staff that some workers had to be placed back on temporary lay-off.

“As you know, the effects of the global pandemic in our major markets have continued to have an effect on our hotel operations,” Mr McKenzie wrote in his message at the time. “In this regard, our occupancy percentages for January are not forecast to be favourable.

“In light of the current environment, and the forecast decline in our occupancy levels, we have no choice but to return several of our food and beverage team members to furlough status effective January 4, 2021, until further notice.

“We will continue to monitor the occupancy forecast closely and, as it improves, we will roster our team members accordingly.”

While January was traditionally a slow month pre-COVID-19, falling between the Christmas holidays and the peak winter season ramp-up, Atlantis indicated at the time that it was grappling with pandemic events beyond its control.

While asserting that “Atlantis Paradise Island is not closing”, the resort confirmed in a statement last month that it was “experiencing lower occupancy levels for January attributed to several compounding factors such as the lack of adequate airlift and the recent surge of COVID-19 in key markets.

“As a result, team members in several divisions are on temporary furlough for a few weeks. It is also not unusual for the resort to adjust staffing needs according to occupancy levels,” Atlantis added last month. “Both team members and the union have been notified of this decision. Atlantis remains extremely optimistic about its February and March bookings and looks forward to The Cove reopening on February 11.”

This episode, though, illustrated just how the re-opening of the tourism and hotel industry, and the rebound of the wider economy, will not simply be a smooth upward trajectory amid COVID-19 but, instead, likely involve a series of bumps in the road.