Just last month, we were gearing up for a wonderful spring across the Caribbean: expectations of warm sand, the clinking of glasses cheering over dinners, and kids splashing freely in the water. For much of the States and the world, March and April are months centered on family, and brimming with new life. Buds begin to appear on trees. Daylight savings permits the sun to linger into evening. Those celebrating religious holidays gather and reflect.
Locally in the Caribbean, March and April are unequivocally busy. The islands prepare for sailing regattas, and restaurants and shop-keepers put the feather in their proverbial hat, capping off the high-season, which so determines their livelihood. And so we were all preparing for vacation and business as usual when the murmurs of this virus began. In an instant, everything changed.
As in every city and town in the world, news traveled unevenly, and decisions were made with the best use of our knowledge. A large portion of WIMCO clients expressed hesitation about traveling early on, and we did our best to credit their reservation to a future date. Another fraction of clients inquired to get to their vacation even sooner. In early March, champagne was still being poured on island, the St. Barths Bucket was still scheduled, and flights were running regularly. Between March 13 and March 15, however, restrictions on the island changed rapidly and dramatically. Schools and restaurants closed, and flight limitations were imposed, with only essential businesses remaining open.
After receiving official notices, our first priority was to ensure the safe departure of our on-island guests who wished to leave (some decided to stay indefinitely). WIMCO’s concierge service model is designed to create a streamlined communication channel from concierge to client—a one-on-one point of contact, and our communications regarding these evolving restrictions followed this template. Thank you to our WIMCOsbh team for all of your efforts: Fanny, Lucille, Florian, Jo, Marco, and Lucas, led by our exemplary head concierge Jules, and helmed by our dedicated director Laurent.
When I read emails from individual clients, many of you are friends whom I’ve met throughout the years, whether in the St. Barths office, or watching the fireworks at Maya’s over New Year’s. Some are names I recognize from the client testimonials we read each and every day (by the way, these testimonials make my day, as well as our entire team’s—thank you). My hope is that we did right by you. That we were helpful. That we delivered information and responded to you in a way that made your life easier and seamless.
In some cases we fell short of your expectations, or were slower to respond than you would like. Today, we are methodically working through hundreds of individual date change requests for reservations for travel that did not happen in March and that will not happen in April. We are committed to supporting you, and we thank you, sincerely, for your patience and understanding during this time. As a family business, with most of our team having worked at WIMCO for a decade or more, we reflect often on the personal connections we have made with you, and know that individually you may be grappling with a great degree of uncertainty and unprecedented hardship right now.
As we collectively settle in to this new chapter, we may begin to realize our desires to travel in the first place: the seeming impossibility of being at one table with the whole family, delighting in a new culture (where two kisses on the cheek is the norm), the mightiness of nature around us (where a brief and sudden rainstorm makes you smile), and more. Part of what makes planning your travel so rewarding is participating in the joy we know it brings.
We are here when you need us –
With Best Regards,
Tim Warburton & the WIMCO Team
*As for travel restrictions, we are following both the guidance of the US State Department and the CDC, as well as local Caribbean island governments. For daily information, you can visit our travel news page here.