Some hotels use crowdfunding to help furloughed employees

With a staggering number of service workers laid off or
furloughed, some hotels have turned to
crowdfunding to help them. 

Gofundme has seen a major surge in activity during the Covid-19 crisis. The company said coronavirus-related
campaigns on the site jumped 60%, from 22,000 to 35,000 campaigns, between
March 20 and March 24.

Lifestyle hospitality group SBE launched a Gofundme
on March 20, with founder and CEO Sam Nazarian kicking off the campaign with a
$65,000 contribution and the company promising to match every additional dollar

Proceeds from SBE’s Gofundme will be used to create care
packages for employees in Los Angeles and Miami. Packages are to include nonperishable
food items, household essentials and a $50 gift card. SBE said it “aims to make
these packages available every week as long as possible.”

To date, SBE had raised approximately $113,400 of its
$250,000 goal.

The majority of SBE’s restaurants and entertainment venues in
North America are temporarily closed and several of its Miami-area hotels are,
too (Delano South Beach, SLS South Beach, Shore Club, SLS LUX Brickell and Hyde
Midtown). The SLS Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas is also shuttered.

Boutique hotel brand The Standard launched The Standard
Stands Together Relief Fund on Gofundme on March 22, with proceeds to “benefit and support team members who have lost
their jobs due to the effect of Covid-19.” The Standard recently closed its New
York, Miami and London hotels.

“Our employees, like many others in the service industry,
tend to live paycheck to paycheck,” said Standard Hotels CEO Amar Lalvani in a
letter. “Most are hourly, often relying on tips. Many are immigrants without
family infrastructure here. Few have savings. Most will not be able to pay rent
next month. Without relief, many will leave our cities in a few months

As of March 31, The Standard had raised around $110,400 of
its $200,000 goal.

Boutique chainlet Ace Hotel Group launched the Ace Family
achieving nearly $22,000 of its $500,000 goal since launching March 22. 

The company said it has temporarily suspended operations at hotels
in New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, London and Palm Springs, Calif. 

New York-based LTH Hospitality, which operates the Vine and
L’Amico restaurants at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi, has established an Employee
Relief Fund on Gofundme.
The hotel and both restaurants have closed. 

Similarly, Washington D.C.-based chef Colin Clark has rolled
out a Gofundme
to support furloughed employees at his Via Sophia and Earth N Eats restaurants.
Via Sophia is in D.C.’s Hamilton Hotel. 

“People who work in restaurants almost universally lack the ‘work-life
balance’ thing,” said Clark in a statement. “Whether by choice or necessity,
and usually it’s at least a little of both, we live to work, and nothing is
more brutal than a slow shift or a slow month or being stuck at home.”

According to Pam Loprest, a senior fellow and labor
economist for the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, the
proliferation of employee relief funds indicates that many service workers live
“so close to the edge.”

“A very large percentage of hospitality workers are lower-wage
workers,” said Loprest. “It’s commendable that employers are trying to help
their employees, but it’s also evidence that so many people, even in what was a
good economy, have no fallback. We talk about businesses not having any profit
margins, but a lot of families don’t have any margins at all.”

David Madland, a senior fellow and a senior adviser to the
American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress, echoed Loprest’s
concerns, calling the state of hospitality workforce “precarious.”

“There’s research [from the Federal Reserve] that shows that
about 40% of Americans would have trouble coming up with just $400 in an
emergency,” said Madland. “On the one hand, it is heartwarming that companies
are actively trying to help their employees in times of need. On the other
hand, however, this is shocking, and [shows that] the conditions for workers in
many industries, especially the service sector and travel industry, are totally

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Airline Announces Major Cuts to Staff as Demand Dwindles

The second-largest airline in Canada announced Tuesday over half of its employees would be leaving the company as the coronavirus outbreak continues to cause a decline in demand.

According to The Associated Press, WestJet CEO Ed Sims revealed around 6,900 of the 14,000 employees at the airline have either retired early, resigned or were laid off. The carrier announced 90 percent of departing workers did so voluntarily.

Sims said the decision was made to cut costs and stabilize the airline as it temporarily suspended all international flights for 30 days and dramatically cut back on domestic service.

“It is through these WestJetters’ sacrifices that we can preserve a core of people who will remain employed to prepare for the moment when the situation stabilizes, and we can look to rise again,” Sims said in a statement.

WestJet asked employees last week to decide how they wanted to help the carrier survive the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus, including unpaid leave of absence, early retirement, voluntary resignation, reduced workweek or reduced pay.

Sims went on to say the airline’s executive team took a 50 percent pay cut and vice presidents and directors took a 25 percent pay cut. The carrier continues to work with the federal government about possible support.

Canadian airline Air Canada also announced its pilot union said up to 600 of its members will go on unpaid leave in the coming months due to the pandemic, while U.S. carriers are drafting plans to temporarily stop flying entirely.

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Caribbean Destinations React to COVID-19 Spread

Initially seeking to balance recommended COVID-19 health and screening practices with pressure to maintain visitor arrivals, several tourism-reliant Caribbean destinations are now following other nations by expanding flight restrictions, limiting cruise ship calls and land-based visitors, and implementing sweeping social distancing strategies as global coronavirus exposure increases.

Some Caribbean destinations have largely declined to implement significant travel restrictions and social distancing, even as communities around the world adopt such measures.

Several top Caribbean destinations offered updates in announcements that spanned a week of fast-moving developments.

Significant Restrictions Announced

Aruba: On March 15, Aruba’s government announced a suspension of all inbound travel to the country by non-residents beginning March 16 through March 31, 2020. Non-residents of Aruba will be barred from entering the country and a “negative travel advisory” will recommend residents suspend outbound travel during the period.

“As you can imagine, this decision does not come without serious consideration as tourism is the lifeline of the Aruban people,” reads a statement from government and Aruba Tourism Authority officials. “However, our highest priority is the health and well-being of our people and our visitors.”

Social distancing is being advocated to minimize risk on the island and “all other protocols defined by the World Health Organization are also in place and shall continue to be activated accordingly.”

British Virgin Islands: The British Virgin Islands government closed the Tortola cruise port on March 14, suspending cruise calls in the territory for a 30-day period “in an effort to protect the Territory from potential contamination.” Of course, CLIA-member cruise lines last week suspended all operations.

There are presently no confirmed cases in the archipelago however earlier scheduled local gatherings and festivals have been postponed including the 2020 BVI Spring Regatta and the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival.

“After extensive consideration, the British Virgin Islands made the prudent decision to put stringent measures in place to temporarily enhance the protocols for entry into the territory until April 13,” said Andrew A. Fahie, B.V.I.’s pemier and minister of finance and tourism.

“It is imperative that we prioritize our limited resources to safeguard our residents and our guests,” he said. “Tourism is our mainstay and it is important that we take measures to ensure our long-term sustainability.”

Dominican Republic: On March 16 the Dominican Republic government suspended flights to and from “European countries [and] China, Korea and Iran” for one month, said officials. The country’s Port Authority also prohibited the docking and disembarking of cruise ships in Dominican ports beginning March 14.

In addition, the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (ASONAHORES) postponed the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) conference, originally scheduled for the last week of March, to an as-yet-undetermined date this summer.

The country also saw the postponement of a PGA Tour event, the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. The tournament shut down “until further notice” said Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner.

Jamaica: The country declared COVID-19 a national emergency and imposed restrictions on travelers from China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, Spain, France, Germany and the U.K. There are 10 confirmed cases on the island.

Travelers who have visited the outlined countries “will not be landed on arrival to [Jamaica],” said Ministry of Health officials in a statement. Additionally, passengers will be screened at all Jamaica gateways by temperature scanners prior to entering the Immigration Hall.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez instituted a curfew for all residents from 9 p.m. through 5 a.m., to extend through March 30. Citizens authorized for work or emergency response are excluded from the curfew.

“On March 12, I decreed a state of emergency due to [COVID-19],” said Vázquez. “Since then I have urged citizens to maintain social distance to avoid contagion as a result of the first cases reported as positive in Puerto Rico.

“Given that the response of some citizens has not been adequate in the face of the emergency situation our priority is health and protecting the lives of all of us who live on this island,” Vázquez said.

Puerto Rico’s airports remain open for inbound and outbound travel with itinerary adjustments at the discretion of airlines. The San Juan Bay cruise facility is closed with CLIA-member line ships idled. Non-essential businesses have been directed to close and restaurants, including hotel restaurants, may only offer take-out and delivery services.

The island’s hotels remain open, however public areas and amenities including spas, pools, and recreational areas, are closed. All businesses except pharmacies, supermarkets, banks and food or pharmaceutical businesses have been ordered to close.

Shopping malls, movie theaters, concert halls, casinos, bars, liquor stores, and “any other place that facilitates citizens’ gatherings,” are also closing and leisure tours have also been suspended, said Carla Campos, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co.

Sint Maarten

Beginning March 17 St. Maarten will restrict visitors from the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K. and Ireland from entering the country, said Silveria Jacobs, the country’s prime minister.

Flights with passengers from restricted areas who are scheduled to depart Princess Juliana International Airiport will be allowed to return to their home countries.

St. Kitts and Nevis

On March 14 the country expanded restrictions for visitors from China, Italy, Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Japan to also include the U.K., France, Germany and Spain. Travelers who visited the destinations in the last 14 days “are asked not to travel to St. Kitts & Nevis at this time.”

Persons who do travel to St. Kitts & Nevis from the 11 destinations will be subject to mandatory 14-day quarantines at a designated facility. Citizens and legal residents returning from the aforementioned countries will also be placed on a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine regimen.

“Tourists should know that although there are no cases of coronavirus on Nevis, the government and the tourism stakeholders here are all instituting practices recommended by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the Pan American Health Organization,” said Jadine Yarde, the Nevis Tourism Authority’s CEO.

“We want to assure tourists that we are maximizing our natural resources to fortify our immune systems and taking swift actions to respond to anything that may arise.”

Turks & Caicos

The Turks & Caicos government imposed a “refusal of entry” of direct flights to the territory originating from China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Singapore, Macau and Japan, and “any other country where there is known or thought to be sustained human-to-human transmission of Covid-19.” The territory has no suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, said officials.

Persons who have visited the listed countries in the last 14 to 20 days and who do not have permanent residency in Turks and Caicos Islands will not be granted landing privileges at any of the country’s ports of entry.

In addition cruise ships “carrying a passenger who has traveled to, from or through an infected country within a period of 21 days or less immediately preceding the intended arrival in the Islands” are also subject to refusal of entry. Persons in the archipelago who have traveled to, from or through an infected country may also be quarantined.

“The Ministry of Tourism will liaise with partners to determine the exact extent of the impact of this disease on the industry,” said Ralph Higgs, minister of tourism, “and put in place the appropriate measures regarding public relations and marketing strategies that are or will become necessary to safeguard this vital industry.”

Less Restrictive

Barbados: There are “no restrictions on travel to Barbados as a result of COVID-19,” officials announced. While screening and testing are underway, no individual on the island has thus far tested positive for COVID-19 exposure.

“We continue to welcome and embrace visitors to our shores, however, the protocols established by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to contain any potential spread of the virus remain in effect,” officials said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the island will quarantine “all persons coming to Barbados with a history of having traveled to countries with widespread local [COVID-19] transmission” specifically China, South Korea, Iran and Italy, for 14 days after the last exposure.

“Any person with potential exposure who develops symptoms consistent with coronavirus will be admitted to the National Isolation Facility for testing and further management,” the statement adds.

Martinique: The French Caribbean nation has not instituted significant travel restrictions despite four confirmed COVID-19 cases. Martinique’s Regional Health Agency reports the four individuals “are currently in isolation at the CHU Martinique Hospital.

Martinique remains in the first stage of a three-stage prevention protocol following the H1N1 flu epidemic in 2009. Under the protocols disembarking cruise passengers are being systematically screened and additional sanitary inspectors have been positioned at the Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport.

“It is very important that our guests be aware that the regional and tourism authorities are prepared and have taken in the last weeks all the necessary steps to prevent and contain the virus,” said François Languedoc-Baltus, director of the Martinique Tourism Authority.

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How Women Can Maximize Their Travel Experiences, According to a Woman Who Made It Her Job

When Lauren Bates got laid off, she decided to turn a bad situation into an opportunity to follow her dream.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Lauren Bates founded Wild Terrains, a travel company with women in mind, after losing her job in 2018. Wild Terrains currently plans trips to Portugal and Mexico with itineraries that revolve around female business owners and entrepreneurs.

“There are so many women who lost jobs and they feel like it is this rare thing that has happened to them,” Bates, the founder and CEO of the all-women travel company Wild Terrains, told Travel + Leisure. “It doesn’t have to be this traumatic [thing].”

So when Bates took the leap to start her own travel company in 2018, she decided to focus on what she saw as something missing from the market. Rather than plan around hitting specific tourist attractions or centering the trip around a niche activity like yoga, Bates’ planning revolved around the women she wanted her travelers to meet — entrepreneurs and business owners.

“At Wild Terrains, our mission is to create travel experiences that propel women forward by giving them a safe space to make meaningful connections and have those deep conversations that transcend borders and generations” Bates told T+L. “Cultivating these meaningful connections among women is transformative. Seeing the world through other women’s eyes makes us wiser. It opens us up.”

a group of people posing for the camera: Lauren Louise Photography

The company has now grown to plan trips in two countries — Mexico and Portugal — and is looking to add a third in Argentina this spring.

“Most travel companies start with the things they want you to do and not the people who are interesting in that culture. Our business model is totally flipped,” she said.

Bates starts by finding someone like a female perfume maker or jewelry designer and curates her itineraries around these women — they often have the best stories to tell, after all. Trips include food crawls, classes and meeting with local boss babes.

She invites people to learn about the company’s partners on the website, highlighting their businesses and the powerful women behind them.

“To me, that’s the cultural exchange we need, especially for women, to be having conversations like ‘what is it like to be a woman in Mexico?’” she added. “We’re in such an important time in the world now. If women aren’t having those conversations, how do we create a more equal world? I don’t think we do.”

a group of people sitting at a table with wine glasses: Lauren Louise Photography

Bates has spent many years traveling both as a solo woman and in a group, and these are her best tips for women to maximize their own travel experiences.

Be Proactive

Bates said travelers shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to the people or businesses they want to explore when they get to their destination. If there’s a specific shop you want to visit, for example, she said to try sending them a message on social media and see if you can meet the owner in person.

“I think people underestimate how much locals want to share,” she said. “Most humans want to connect with other people. Send that email, send that DM on Instagram.”

Think Outside the Box in Terms of Travel Companions

Bates suggests broadening who you’re willing to travel with by thinking outside only your age group (hello moms and grandmothers) or considering someone you may not know as well.

“Travel makes people really close,” she said. “Try a short, long weekend with someone you maybe don’t know that well.”

Be Intentional with How You Spend Money

Bates told T+L that it’s important to know where your money is going by doing your research ahead of time. Bates suggested things like finding out if the person who owns the airbnb you’re staying at is a local and figuring out who you’re supporting with your tourism dollars.

Create a Balance Between Planning and Leaving Room for Spontaneity

While Bates says it’s a good idea to plan things like accommodation in advance, it’s also important to leave room to explore.

“My usual rule of thumb is I will plan one thing I have to do per day and then I leave the rest open,” she said. “I’ll create a Google map [for] all the places I’m interested in seeing like shops and cafes and then after I do my one thing of the day… I’ll open up that Google map and then I just walk.”

Eat like a Local

One of the best parts about traveling is food and that can be even better if you know the best spots to go to.

“See if you can meet a local and ask them to take you to their favorite spots,” she said. “When I get in a cab or an Uber from an airport, I ask the cab driver to give me their favorite spots. I ask the bartender, they always know the non-touristy places to go for great food and great drinks.”

Besides, when eating like a local, the experience turns into so much more than trying new food.

“When we explore, eat, learn, laugh and authentically share ourselves with each other — we amplify each other,” Bates added. “This human exchange through travel lays the foundation for a more understanding and equal world.”

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