Distant employees flee to resorts in Hawaii, Central America, Caribbean whereas awaiting vaccines

When Governor Gavin Newsom announced in mid-December that California would issue its toughest lockdown yet, some of its wealthiest residents ran – as far as they could – the other way to places like sunny Belize. Others, who had seen the writing on the wall long before, were long gone.

In contrast to the first wave of Covid-19 lockdowns, which sent people on the road and into second homes, the second wave sparked the global desire for more permanent, warmer and more distant escapes.

In the UK and Europe, the rich have flown to warmer climates like Dubai, the Maldives and Spain to avoid the winter lockdown, says Justin Huxter, founder of Cartology Travel in the UK. Americans have more options for tropical bunkers: Hawaii has eased its travel restrictions and borders in Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize and many parts of the Caribbean are open. What good is a second home in Lake Tahoe or Napa, California if nearby ski lifts, wineries, and restaurants are regularly inaccessible, as in December and January?

“People with lockdown fatigue have realized that they can go on living in places with much less stress and much more breathing space,” said Jack Ezon, founder of Embark Beyond. He sees customers on the east coast flocking to luxury hotels and resorts in Florida, South Carolina and the Turks and Caicos Islands, while customers on the west coast are fleeing to Arizona, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo in Mexico – everywhere with the same good weather and WiFi.

The average cost, he says, is $ 70,000 per month, with most customers booking two- to four-month stays.

Long-stay discounts, the reopening of certain international borders, and greater awareness of travel precautions have made a second wave exodus further possible. While social isolation at a five-star resort may have been a novelty at the start of the pandemic, a certain class of consumer is now required. In Thailand it is a business plan.

“In October, people realized they were going to have yet another winter in San Francisco, with no restaurants, no entertainment, no offices – really nowhere. They wanted out, ”says Leigh Rowan, founder of Savanti Travel in the Bay Area, whose customers buy one-way tickets and work remotely from villas on the beach or hotels with many amenities.

This time, he says, they won’t come back until a vaccination appointment is promised.

Please check out indefinitely

Melanie Woods, a 39-year-old graphic designer, left San Francisco long before there was talk of a winter lockdown. Since October 1st – the day Belize reopened its borders – she has been working at director Francis Ford Coppola’s rustic and luxurious Turtle Inn Resort, where her desk is by a window with a sea breeze.

“I swim between calls to do sports. At the weekend I feel like I’m on vacation. I can snorkel, zipline, swim, ”she says.

In Belize, travelers must have a negative Covid-19 test on arrival, which Woods reassures. The 27-room hotel is located directly on the beach in Placencia and is almost entirely outdoors. So you can easily eat and socialize outdoors in distant surroundings. Room rates start at $ 329 per night with extended stays offering 20% ​​off room and board. Woods is renting her home apartment to make up for the cost.

“I probably won’t be returning until the summer or when I can get a vaccine,” she says.

Alan and Bonnie Cartwright from Los Angeles, both 71 years old and retired, are also requesting a perpetual fund for their current escape. The couple hoped to vacation in the Maldives and Capri last year. By September they had accepted that Cabo was the easiest option if they wanted to escape.

They originally booked 10 nights at the Auberge Resorts Collection’s Chileno Bay, where rooms average over $ 1,000 a night. The blessings to their sanity were substantial, however, and an extended stay agreement offered savings of up to 40%. So they decided to extend – and extend and extend and extend.

“We have been married for 51 years and after every vacation we ask ourselves whether we really have to go home. This time the answer was no, ”says Alan Cartwright, who has no plans to leave until the couple can have the same quality of life in California. Bonnie Cartwright, who is immunocompromised, says the hotel staff made her feel incredibly safe.

“They even take taxi drivers’ temperature before they get in their car,” she explains.

Improved creativity and productivity

Taking off for a sandy paradise is not just a lifestyle game. Travel consultant Rowan says many of his clients can actually do their jobs better in a different environment.

“A lot of creative people, startups and tech geeks are realizing that they can meet interesting investors in places like Oaxaca or San Miguel de Allende,” he says.

Cheyenne Quinn, 39, partner in a Los Angeles branding and consulting firm, is one of them. “When LA went into lockdown again, it was a lot more intense,” she says. “I was consumed with the idea of ​​escape.” In October she flew to Tulum and rented houses across Mexico for just $ 20 a night.

“This trip has helped me financially, socially and emotionally,” she says.

Before the pandemic, Quinn worked with such important clients as Louis Vuitton and Modelo. The business has disappeared, but she has met artisans and small business owners on her travels who have helped rebuild their business. Several have hired her to advise on social media strategy and marketing, she says.

Shawn Garvey, a 55-year-old executive director of an energy innovation company in the Bay Area, has also seen productivity gains from his extended vacation in Mexico. He’d dragged himself into his empty office just to stay productive.

“I was sluggish and tired. My inspiration was wearing off, ”he says, adding that most of his days have been“ rolling out of bed and working from my laptop in my underwear ”.

His wife, Kimberley Garvey, owns a court reporting company which she now operates remotely. Your three children are grown up. “For the first time in decades, we had nothing to stop us from going,” he says.

Now they live at the Modern Elder Academy near Todos Santos on Mexico’s Pacific coast. It was named one of Bloomberg Pursuits’ Top Travel Destinations in 2021. A month-long stay for two, including meals, costs $ 7,500, which Garvey estimates is half the couple’s monthly cost of living at home.

“I’ve done more here in the past four weeks than I did last year,” says Garvey, noting that he and his wife are essentially still seeking refuge. Access to the great outdoors has revived his creativity, he says – when whales break out or jump during his zoom calls, he tells his staff that they deserve Mother Nature’s applause. It was such a positive experience that he is now building a house in Todos Santos.

“From a professional standpoint, I’m not interested in going back until the offices are open again,” says Garvey. “To be honest, I think customers and employees are responding very positively to the idea that I’m here in Mexico.”

At your service

Then there are the benefits of full resort service that you simply cannot get at home.

Jeff Assaf, the 62-year-old chief information officer of the financial firm ICG Advisors in LA, fled to Hawaii, where he felt even safer than at home due to strict travel rules. In July, he and his wife rented a townhouse in Timbers Kauai where they have 450 acres of backyard – and a full staff to help with office needs as they arise.

“I needed a printer, and the staff installed one in my house. The gym didn’t have a rower, which is what I do for cardio and without missing a shot they brought one to my home, ”says Assaf.

He is not alone. Mike Cuthbertson, director of destination hotels who manages the lodge in Kukui’ula, Kauai, says that since October 2019, the number of resort guests from California has increased from 29% to 45% and their average length of stay has more than doubled.

“People don’t see this as a typical vacation,” he says. “They want to live their urban life in a different environment.”

“My office is closed. I don’t meet money managers in person or fly to New York. So why does it matter where I attend my Zoom board meeting? “Asks Mr. Assaf, who is considering buying a second home from Timbers.

He says the couple have no plans to return to LA until the number of Covid cases is much lower, or the couple has been vaccinated in Hawaii or made an appointment for a vaccination at home. In the meantime, he says the only challenge is waking up early due to time zone differences – but on the other hand, he sees that sweet Hawaiian sunrise.