What is it really like to travel during COVID-19?
All-inclusive resorts have been quite creative this year with special pricing, touchless options, “workation” opportunities for remote workers, free medical insurance, and most importantly new protocols for health and hygiene.
With that in mind, however, what can we really expect when we travel?
We’ve got answers — real experiences our customers have graciously shared:
Story 1 – Mexico – Traveled December 2020:
Just wanted to let you know how our vacation/travel was. We had the best time on vacation. Probably one of our best trips so far. The staff went above and beyond to keep everything safe and sanitized. The service, as always, was superb! We felt safer at the resort then going into a Walmart back home. Travel was nice and easy and we breezed through customs coming home.
–Thanks so much, Sara S.
Story 2 – Jamaica – Traveled December 2020:
Club Mobay for us, was a real time saver. You are assigned a rep who walks you through immigration, secondary authorization, and then your lounge, where a sandwich (or other snack food) and drinks are provided before your shuttle.
I would say it took us about 45 min to get to the lounge.
We received Champagne when we checked in along with an alcohol wipe. (instead of cold rose water washcloth)
After check in, you are free to remove your mask throughout the resort, with the exception of being courteous to wear one inside smaller enclosed spaces with others such as the gift shops and maybe entrance into the restaurants. But they won’t hound you if you don’t.
The resort is at 25% capacity. Plenty of trees and palapas to choose from on the beach.
New adjustable beach chairs instead of those plastic ones.
Palms is doing breakfast service. Every time we tried to go to Patois for breakfast they were closed, so we stopped going there for breakfast.
You check in at Palms, they take your temperature with a thermal thermometer, then seat you. Though no temperature is required when you walk up to Palms bar for a drink. (Many times there isn’t a bartender readily available at that bar)
Breakfast at Palms was good with every visit. Reasonably small but good menu, only about 10 tables being used at a time. I did not go to Palms for dinner. There is no buffet, nor can you make your own mimosa or bloody marys. You have to order from waitstaff or at the bar. No problem, Mon.
Pool bar is open, people are sitting around it within the pool, but there are no chairs around it on land. (??) In my opinion, it is time the main pool was refaced. It’s looking a bit shabby.
All the beach bars have removed stools, so you order and stand there if you want. That is pretty silly.
Patois is open for dinner. Never noticed if it was open for lunch, but it seemed empty most of the time. Dinner there was very good. The snapper is always a winner in my opinion.
Repeaters dinner is on Mondays and was at the Lemongrass. The food was delicious. (Lobster and Filet)
Lemongrass (other night), about 5 other tables being used during our reservation times. I personally did not enjoy my main meal of Pad Thai. It tasted too sweet and abused with hoisen or other sauce. It was missing all of the traditional ingredients of Pad Thai. Much of the food was overly sweet, like butchered Chinese food. Tom Kha soup was a sweet broth, not a creamy soup as it should have been. That’s just my opinion. I would love to see the Lemongrass go back to Traditional Asian dishes, v/s American version Chinese where everything is sweet. That’s just my opinion.
Martini bar is always awesome, and the bartender was super fun, and creative with his drinks.
Water sports “all open”, which was great! However, we found that each time we showed up at the times specified for water ski/wakeboarding, we were told we showed up at “wrong time” or the wrong hut. (Both huts said the same thing.) I feel like they were sending
us back and forth, because they didn’t want to take out the boats for that. So, that experience never happened.
Catamaran is still running, and going to the same places, without all of the Ricks Cafe diving crowds. Passengers had to wear masks to board (and temp check), and then remove them after we were aboard. Again a little silly to start with masks outside only to take them off again. Open bar is still a thing. 😉
Seagrapes is still the bomb. Everything on the menu is amazing. No more “pour your own beer” from tap.
Feathers was delicious. There were about 5-7 tables being used at any given time. We ate there twice.
The grill still nails the jerk chicken and onion rings.
Room (garden veranda) was as clean as expected. Housekeeper was there daily. Mini-fridge will not be restocked unless you are in the room. That was a bit inconvenient. Bring ear plugs if you stay in that room. It’s not super loud, but street noise is loud for me.
Aura Lounge: Piano bar is is happening, but we aren’t sitting around the piano anymore. We can still sing if we want, and the Name that Tune game is always fun. However, it is starting earlier now, as Jamaica has a curfew for its citizens, if they have to go home from the resort.
Disco in evening was also happening.
Bonfire was mostly a no-show as was the silent disco on the beach. (at least I didn’t see many people there)
However specialty dinner on the beach is still an option.
Massages require mask when facing up.
The vendors on the beach: A couple of regular vendors have become rather political against guests that do not want to buy their product or service, forcing an uncomfortable confrontation/situation. I do not bring cash to the beach nor do I require any of the goods or services the vendors usually offer. I support in other ways. That being said, my family wasn’t the only one hounded for saying “no thank you”. I saw it happen to other guests as well. I did not know if I should make a complaint to Couples, but I made the decision not to, as I understand how they feel, given how Covid has really affected tourism and their livelihoods.
All in all we had an amazing trip and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.
Story 3 – Jamaica – Traveled Thanksgiving 2020:
We’re officially back home from our amazing vacation. I just wanted to give you a summary in case any of your other clients have questions that I might be able to help answer.
First of all… let me just say the whole trip was amazing as always!! They ended up upgrading our room on Sunday to a beach front room and it was phenomenal! Not sure if you had anything to do with it… but if you did, THANK YOU! We’d never pay for that kind of room so it was a special treat to get to enjoy the proximity to the beach! We were definitely spoiled. lol
Arrival: Other than our confusion with the split stay, arrival was quick and easy. We had Club MoBay and probably didn’t need it… there was hardly anyone there when we landed at 11:30am.
Food/drinks: Food was delicious as always. We didn’t notice any difference from last year. Menus were still full of variety and quality options. The only main difference is that the restaurants all closed by 8:30 PM, probably to ensure staff can get home before the island curfew. The alcohol selection appeared to be the same as last year, though most bars are closing earlier than normal. The only bar you could go to after 9:30 PM was the Aura Lounge bar.
Entertainment: Entertainment seemed mostly the same as last year. The shows in The Palms ended earlier, usually around 8:30. Again, probably because of curfew. Ultimate Chocolate and the beautiful lady in the piano bar ended by 9:30. They still had staff members starting parties in the Aura Lounge after hours, though. Many of the same activities were still running. They were still doing the classes, sports activities, tie dye, etc. All water sports were running, too, including the catamaran. We had to wear a mask upon boarding the catamaran and they checked our temperatures, but we were allowed to take off the masks once on the catamaran and they encouraged social distancing. They did not try to get the dance floor going like usual. We still got to go to Rick’s Cafe, though there weren’t many divers, and swim through a cave. They were not currently running the included excursions that we could see and were not doing the “trading places” day trips to CN. This will likely change, though, as it appears the PM made an update yesterday that would allow for more travel within the Resilient Corridor
BEACH: Pristine as always. It was a little stormier than normal. Lots of wind and the ocean was rougher than normal for a couple of days and brought in some seaweed, but the staff did a great job of keeping everything clean. There is hardly anyone on the resort so good seats and palapas were easy to find. Sand fleas were HORRIBLE though, much worse than last year. Down the beach, many of the local places and restaurants are closed. Margaritaville is open, but a lot of the smaller places are closed. It’s pretty sad to see. Hopefully they’ll be able to reopen when all of this is over with.
COVID Protocols: Everywhere you go they have hand sanitizer and they want you to use it. haha At the entrance of every restaurant and in the gift shops. Masks are required for guests only when social distancing is not possible. We only wore them in the lobby when interacting with staff and in the gift shops and were never asked to put them on. They sanitize every table and chair as soon as people leave, but I don’t think they were sanitizing the beach chairs. Our room was thoroughly cleaned and mopped every day and we saw the housekeeping staff in there one time and they were dressed head-to-toe in PPE. Any alcohol room requests are delivered by bartenders who cannot enter the room, so you have to be in there when they come to fill your request. Room service continental breakfast was still available, which is nice because now that breakfast is a la carte it takes a lot longer than usual. Staff on the resort all have masks and all but a select few wear them, though most don’t have them cover their noses, which is completely understandable. I can only imagine how miserable it would be to wear a mask all day in that climate! They took our temperatures every morning at breakfast, but if you didn’t eat breakfast at the restaurant, it wasn’t taken. We packed our own thermometer and took our temps twice a day anyways, just to be safe. There is currently no self-serve food or drink. The soda fountains are shut down, the ice cream at Seagrapes is served up by staff members (who thoroughly wash their hands, wear gloves, and grab the cone with a napkin so that there is no contact), and water stations are staff-served as well. Restaurants were half-capacity so as resort capacity increases, dinner might be harder to reserve/access quickly. The biggest change that was disappointing was the earlier closing times for the restaurants/bars. They greatly reduced the capacity of the catamaran cruise, too, so we weren’t able to reserve it right away like last time. They still did the Returner’s dinner, but it was at Lemongrass and each couple was seated at their own table. Social distancing was expected and encouraged at all times and most (sober) guests respected the social distancing protocols. They even removed the seats around the bars to ensure that people didn’t crowd. Overall, we felt extremely safe and I hope that the staff felt safe, as well.
Hopefully I covered it all… let me know if you have any questions!
Anyways… having said all this… we’re already dreaming about going back next year! I know they extended their Early Booking promotion… would you recommend booking during that promotion? Or are there better promotions to look out for?
Story 4 – Mexico – Traveled November 2020:
A colleague just returned (October 2020) from Riviera Maya and she shared that people kept their distance through the airport and a thermal temperature system was in place and taken both ways.
She stayed at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, which also has the WTTC Safe Stamp, and Stay Safe protocols in place. Her transportation, provided by Grand Velas, was also easy from Cancun Airport directly to the Resort. A temperature check was also done at the gate, at check-in and at all restaurants. Restaurants also require the use of hand sanitizer. The resort was, of course, more quiet than usual and with the latest announcement that could change since they’ll be able to go to 60% occupancy.
Three of the eight restaurants were currently open including Piaf for French cuisine, Cocina de Autor for Creative Plates, and Bistro. Bistro is currently offering an à la carte menu for breakfast and lunch and dinner is quite creative as they’re using rotating menus from their other restaurants, like Frida, along with each of their chefs.
Se Spa wasn’t open yet and there’s a chance that will be updated with the new “yellow” status, but beachfront cabanas were allowed as well as designated spa suites for in-suite services. Use of masks throughout the resort, of course.
We hope the experiences of fellow all inclusive travelers help shed light on travel during these unprecedented times. We will continue to update as we receive more travel experiences.
If you would like to share your travel story, please reply here.
Updates are available from the US State Department on all destinations you are thinking of traveling to.
Verify the health and safety protocols at your desired hotel, their cancellation policy, and special offers.
It is always prudent to inquire about the amenities and excursions your resort is currently offering.