HOLA AMIGOS: Mexico welcomes Canadians
Snowbound as we are in Toronto, it was with no little degree of envy that I caught up with Deana Murphy, Vice President of Sales, and David Wright, Director of Sales Ontario and Atlantic Canada for the Sunwing Travel Group, on location in Mexico at the Royalton CHIC Suites Cancun. The two, along with Lynn Chayer, General Manager, Quebec, were visiting Sunwing properties in order to report from firsthand experience on all of the ‘Safe With Sunwing’ protocols at the hotels, on the flights and to discuss safe, responsible and enjoyable travel during Covid.
The Royalton Chic is situated on a spectacular beach that stretches for miles in each direction, it has recently been designated as ‘Adults Only’. The hotel was just over half full when the Sunwing team visited, and Murphy said all protocols were in place and being followed by staff and guests.
Guests have their temperatures taken when they get to the hotel and before entering any restaurant. Social distancing is maintained – elevators permit four people only and signs at all bars promote ‘grab and go.’
The staff are masked at all times as are the guests when they are in public areas. They mask up when they leave their rooms, in the elevator and can unmask at the beach.
Hand sanitizers are everywhere.
“To be honest,” said Murphy, “the vast majority of people are respectful of the protocols.”
Wright noted that many people ask about the buffet. That too is ‘socially distanced’. Guests have no utensils, and do not serve themselves – they touch nothing but their plates. The buffet is wide spread and staff serve food onto the plates from the various stations. The only touchpoint is the juice bar which is behind a plexiglass sheet.
There are no big line ups says Wright, as there are lots of staff to assist and of course everyone wears masks at all times.
Perhaps best of all for travellers to Mexico – there is no quarantine for arrivals.
The trio were also visiting other Sunwing properties in the area including Planet Hollywood, the Riu complex in Playa del Carmen and Mystique Holbox by Royalton on the small island of Holbox.
It’s a paperless process at the airport. Passengers are required to download the Sunwing App and a CanBorder eDeclaration. They are also required to fill out a Mexican Health Survey which is also available on the Sunwing App. This can all be done in advance and passengers can get their boarding passes prior to departure.
Additionally, should anyone need assistance Sunwing has launched a Sunwing Ambassadors programme where uniformed staff at the airport will answer questions, help with Apps if necessary and generally assist passengers.
“Right now Pearson International Airport is a bit of a dream” laughs Murphy, “Though of course we would love to see some lines – we look forward to those days of security lines!”
While many of the vendors are closed she says, Duty Free is open as are some coffee shops.
The flight to Cancun had about a 70% load factor, Murphy said. There is no empty seat protocol, but passengers remain masked throughout except to eat which was done in a ‘timely manner.’ And they are asked not to stand in the aisles. She said it was perhaps the quietest flight she had been on.
We asked about durations. Are passengers, knowing they have a 14 day quarantine on their return to Canada looking at longer vacations – two, three or four weeks – perhaps even longer?
Yes, she said, people who have the flexibility to do that are certainly interested in doing so and in fact one couple at the Royalton had already contacted their agent with a view to extending their stay. She also noted that there were eight travel agents currently visiting the property.
“Our wish is to be able to add on a few more destinations, (currently Cancun, Jamaica and Punta Cana) and gateways,” (currently just Toronto and Montreal).
Also at the beginning of November Sunwing introduced “workcations” stays of 14, 21 or 28 nights at Royalton resorts in Negril, Cancun and Punta Cana with each package including complimentary access to the resort business centre, “All-In Connectivity” including resort-wide Wi-Fi, portable power banks, access to the Diamond Club Lounge.
The quarantine (in Canada) is a major obstacle, says Murphy, “some people make it work, but some people just don’t have that flexibility. Hopefully we will move further ahead on rapid testing sooner rather than later.”
Murphy says the quality of the Wi-Fi at the Royalton in Cancun “is better than my Wi-Fi at home.”
Another other plus about visiting Cancun right now is that without the crowds of tourists, visiting popular sights such as Tulum has never been better.
And finally, at the destination, the response from the local staff and people is overwhelming she says. Committed to providing guests a secure, safe vacation – they are ready, willing and eager to welcome Canadians back to Cancun.
First published at Travel Industry Today