Employees of hotels operated by the Dart group are being offered a variety of redundancy payment options as the company’s hotels scale back operations due to the impact on the hospitality industry of the COVID-19 crisis.
Dart employees over 700 staff at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and Comfort Suites.
The company says when its properties closed in March, it had hoped that it’s “commitment to continue to pay employees for 10 weeks would be enough to weather the storm.”
Unfortunately, it says, it now seems the hotels will be closed for a significantly longer period "as the Government has indicated that Cayman’s borders will remain closed for several months and tourism is unlikely to pick up much before the end of the year."
Dart CEO Mark VanDevelde says: “There are no easy solutions to the deep and complex issues facing the tourism industry, both here in Cayman and in our main overseas markets.”
“We recognise how difficult this is for the hard-working individuals whose livelihoods depend on international visitors being able to travel.”
Saying that the hotels in Dart’s hospitality portfolio are faced with some difficult decisions, the firm is now offering staff a variety of options.
These include voluntary leave of absence with paid return flights to employees from overseas who are able to return to their home countries.
For those without that option, the company reports that it has “agreed a relief pay package for June that includes minimum wage, health insurance paid in full and two daily meals, to be reviewed on a monthly basis until the hotel reopens.”
Dart’s other property, Comfort Suites, remains an isolation facility for returning residents, as requested by the Cayman Islands Government.
Plans calls for refurbishing that property between June and December with reopening targeted for the 2021 tourist season.
It will also be placed under new management.
As a result of that extensive shutdown, staff there are being offered a separate furlough arrangement.
Dart says, “Instead of a leave of absence, we are providing comprehensive severance packages which include full payment of health insurance premiums through year end.”
Its encouraging those employees to apply once the new management company begins recruitment.
The Comfort Suites franchise expires in August and there are plans for extensive renovations between June and December including improvements to guest rooms, the pool area and restaurant.
CEO VanDevelde says, “We hope these packages help reduce financial hardships to a degree, and we will offer practical support wherever we can.
“We look forward to the day when our borders re-open and we can extend our hospitality to guests from overseas once again.”