Quick Links in this Thread:
• Cayman’s COVID-Free Streak Continues – Thursday, August 6, 2020
• Cayman’s Balancing Act: Safe Haven Status & Tourism – July 21, 2020
• A Soft Re-Opening – July 14, 2020
• Cayman Flattens the Curve – July 13, 2020
• On the Path to Re-Opening – June 15, 2020
• A New Day: Cayman Emerges from Lockdown – May 15, 2020
• Private Villas Preferred Over Hotels and Resorts – May 5, 2020
• Our New Relaxed Cancellation Policy – April 5, 2020
• Cayman Airport Closure & Your Options to Rebook or Cancel – March 23, 2020
• Rebooking Policy Due to Travel Restrictions – March 16, 2020
• Cayman Islands Government on Alert as Coronavirus Spreads – March 12, 2020
Phased Reopening Plan Announced
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Yesterday, the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) formally announced the first phase of a 3-Phase Reopening Plan for the island.
Phase I will start as a soft-reopening from September to October for property owners, permanent residents, work permit-holders, and visitors looking to stay on island for an extended period of time. Only Cayman Airways and British Airways, as well as private aircraft, will be flying into Grand Cayman until November 1st.
All visitors must submit a pre-arrival application, known as Travel Time, to the CIG. Arrivals DO NOT NEED to take a COVID PCR test prior to flying. However, upon arrival, they must comply with the following safeguards:
- 1. Take a PCR test at the Cayman Airport
- 2. Self-isolate at their private residence for 14 days
- 3. Wear a location-monitoring bracelet during self-isolation
- 4. Take a second PCR test at end of 14 days
- 5. If that test comes back negative, they are release into the general population
CIG cautioned that Phase II requirements and dates will all depend on the success of Phase I and how well the self-isolation plan works. It will also depend on advances in the accuracy of new rapid-antigen tests that are much cheaper and faster.
Phase II will most likely utilize more frequent testing prior to arrival, as well as a shorter self-isolation period on island. It is CIG’s hope that Phase II can begin in November, but no formal plans have been revealed. CIG and the Health Services Authority have been evaluating strategies utilized by neighboring islands that are currently open.
The Government is working diligently to ensure the island is open for Christmas and New Years and will announce details for PHASE II in mid-October, if not before. Caution, thus far, has served them, and the Cayman people, very well.
Cayman’s COVID-Free Streak Continues
Thursday, August 6, 2020
The Cayman Islands have reported no new cases of COVID-19 and have not had a positive test result in over 3 weeks. That latest batch of 243 COVID tests taken since Tuesday, all returned negative.
While the island’s Chief Medical officer, Dr. John Lee, is reluctant to claim victory the results speak for themselves. Aggressive lockdowns measures, restrictions on gathering, a mask mandate, and rigorous PCR testing from April through June have resulted in a near burnout of the virus with only a few asymptomatic cases in early July.
As of yesterday, there are no active cases of COVID-19 on Grand Cayman, or the sister islands.
The Cayman government announced a reopening of the airport to tourists starting in September but established PCR testing requirements, a pre-arrival screening application, biometric monitoring, and a 5-day self-isolation period, followed by a final PCR test, as prerequisites to re-entry.
Minister of Tourism, Moses Kirkconnel, anticipates the lifting of the self-isolation requirement sometime in October. Pre-arrival PCR testing and biometric monitoring will likely continue.
Bookmark and follow this thread to stay up to date on all travel restrictions issued by the government.
Visit the Cayman Islands Government’s official website for all COVID-19 policies and guidelines.
Cayman’s Balancing Act: Safe Haven Status & Tourism
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
The Cayman Islands have the highest per-capita testing rate and lowest infection rate (less than .70%) of any developed Caribbean country. With only 2 active cases currently being monitored and not one Cayman soul lost to COVID-19, the country’s strategy of border closure and mandatory quarantine has worked brilliantly.
Now, the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) must balance the health and safety of its citizens with the reopening of its tourism industry which accounts for roughly 40% of GDP.
Make no mistake about it, local authorities intend on making the Cayman Islands the safest Caribbean destination in the region while ensuring the safety of the most at-risk travelers in your family or group.
Our brand strategy must now include a commitment to remain as close to COVID-FREE as possible. Making Cayman a safe haven destination for those willing to comply with strict entry requirements is within our reach.
A Phased Reopening for Tourists
Officially announced at last Friday’s CIG press briefing, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell outlined a phased reopening of Cayman’s borders set to begin September 1st.
Under PHASE I, September arrivals seeking entry on to the island must first complete an online application form with the CIG. From there, the following will be required:
- 1. If approved, the applicant must upload a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure.
- 2. Approval will also require each applicant to pay a health monitoring fee.
- 3. Upon arrival, each traveler will be fitted with a Bio-Button, a waterproof biometric monitoring device, that adheres to your chest and logs your vital signs and location.
- 4. Then, the traveler will be allowed to self-isolate at their private accommodation for a minimum of 5 days.
- 5. At the end of the 5-day period, each traveler will be tested for COVID. If the test comes back negative, the self-isolation period is over and you can move freely around the island. However, biometric monitoring will continue for the remainder of your stay.
Phase II of the island’s reopening is scheduled for October 1st. We hope by then there will be no self-isolation or biometric tracking requirement.
CIG is working on implementation details and will provide more guidance in the coming weeks.
A Soft Re-Opening
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
In late June, the Cayman Government gave the accommodations industry approval to re-open for local resident Staycation bookings. With the airport closed to international traffic, many locals had to cancel their summer vacations abroad to either the US, UK, or Europe. So, instead, many of our 60,000+ local residents have opted to rent private villas and condos in the less-crowded, resort areas of Grand Cayman.
So far, Staycations have been quite popular. We’ve taken over 250 bookings that provide work to our property managers, housekeeping teams, and maintenance specialists who depend on tourism dollars for their livelihoods. The staycations also ensure the properties will be in top-condition when the airport reopens to tourist flights.
Our property managers are actively inspecting each property and troubleshooting anything that needs repair. HVAC techs are checking air-conditioning systems and pool technicians are ensuring the pools are clear and blue. Finally, housekeeping teams are executing all-new enhanced cleaning and disinfecting safeguards as mandated by the Department of Tourism.
Our approach with staycations has been to use this opportunity as a soft re-opening. COVID has brought to light new realities that, let’s admit it, will be part of our daily lives for a while. That’s why we’re taking the time to ready our properties and train our hospitality teams to safely welcome you back as soon as Grand Cayman officially reopens.
Once you’re ready to take to the skies again, we’ll have a private oceanfront vacation villa in paradise waiting for you.
Cayman Flattens the Curve
Monday, July 13, 2020
It has been 21 days since Cayman authorities eased shelter in place restrictions. Sectors of the economy were allowed to gradually reopen. Citizens returned to normal daily life without restrictions on gatherings or a daily curfew. The fear with reopening was that as people came out from under lockdown an increase in new coronavirus cases would emerge confirming community spread was still lingering across the island.
As of July 13, Cayman authorities reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the prior 12 days. COVID-19 and antibody testing has ramped up significantly as the island continues to lead the way in per capita testing across the region, and with a positivity rate of less than 1%.
The interactive graph below from Our World in Data, a collaborative project from researchers at the University of Oxford, illustrates how the island was able to suppress the spread of COVID-19 once the outbreak began in mid-March. Click the Play button in the bottom left corner to view the data in real-time.
Needless to say, Cayman’s recent streak of no new cases is encouraging news as the island emerges as a safe haven from coronavirus.
While September 1st remains the current reopen date, it is expected that a measured reopening will ensue with property owners and business travelers permitted on the first round of flights. There will certainly be some COVID testing certification required before arrival in Grand Cayman.
Once requirements for entry are formally announced we will update and share them here.
On the Path to Re-Opening
Monday, June 15, 2020
The Cayman Islands has the 4th highest COVID-19 test-per-capita rate of any country in the world with approx. +25% of the population tested. Cayman has also experienced one of the lowest positive rates of those tested at approx. 1.10%. Soon, the Health Services Authority (HSA) will roll-out widespread antibody testing to further understand the impact of COVID-19 on the community. Strict gathering restrictions, mask regulations, and social distancing have worked well in the Cayman Islands.
Before Grand Cayman can re-open its airport, it must re-open its local economy first. If testing trends continue on the same favorable path, the Premier has signaled that a full lifting of restrictions can likely be expected by June 22nd.
In the interim, daily life is slowly returning with sectors of the economy reopening as shelter in place restrictions are relaxed. Construction projects have resumed with social distancing measures in place. Restaurants and bars are reopening providing outdoor service only. Restrictions on beach access have been lifted allowing for shore fishing, swimming, and exercise. All welcomed developments as the island shifts focus on reviving the tourism sector.
On that front, the government is formulating a phased plan for reopening the borders to tourism that should be announced in the coming weeks. Our airport, Owen Roberts International (GCM), currently remains closed through August 31st.
A phased reopen plan will most likely require some certification of PCR test results as well as a health declaration. High-speed COVID-19 testing at gateway airports could be the key to allowing tourists to return by the end of the year. Cayman may also permit property and business owners with assets on the island to arrive as early as July or August. Private aircraft might also be permitted to land prior to September 1. We will know more details of the Government’s strategy for reopening by June 22.
Here’s what can you do to ensure safe passage to Cayman once the airport reopens:
- 1). Practice social distancing to minimize contact with others
- 2). Wear a face mask when out in public or large crowds
- 3). Continue to wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer regularly
- 4). Monitor your health and seek a COVID-19 or antibody test if you are showing symptoms
- 5). Follow the guidance issued by local and state health agencies.
Stay up to date with the latest news and information on COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands by visiting these trusted sources:
- 1). Cayman Islands Government
- 2). Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
- 3). Cayman Islands Health Services Authority
- 4). Cayman Compass
A New Day: Cayman Emerges from Corona Lockdown
Monday, May 18, 2020
The Cayman Islands rank in the top-10 of 1st world countries with the lowest positive-per-tested rate in the world. We have not lost one Cayman resident (of over 60,000) to COVID-19.
The government’s current plan is a phased reopening of the local economy with continued testing; return to normalcy over the next 4-6 weeks, and when the USA airports/TSA/airlines have adequate protective measures in place…reopen the island to tourists.
The airport is currently scheduled to reopen on September 1st.
We are very busy with both rescheduling existing guests and booking new guests for future stays. While many airlines are accepting reservations for as early as July, we think that is too optimistic.
We encourage our guests to book for September and beyond. This may be our busiest September and October on record. The island is ready for your return!
Private Villas Preferred Over Hotels and Resorts
Sunday, May 5, 2020
The travel industry has published a number of recent articles discussing how the world will travel in a post COVID-19 world. The privacy of a beachfront villa, coupled with the safety and COVID-awareness of our island-country landed Grand Cayman at the top of the list of travel agent recommendations in a recent CNBC article.
Villa bookings for the winter months are up strongly on Grand Cayman both due to demand for privacy and reduced demand for hotels with crowded beaches and pools. Why vacation with countless strangers when you can have an entire vacation villa with a pool and private beachfront all to yourself?
Steer clear of the crowds and vacation with family and friends in your own private vacation villa. Start planning today for a Winter 2020 or Spring Break 2021 trip and book later… when you’re ready for a tropical escape.
Our New Relaxed Cancellation Policy
Sunday, April 5, 2020
In response to extraordinary travel restrictions and global events, we have relaxed our cancellation policy and terms for all bookings made after March 14, 2020.
Please review our new policy outlined below.
1). Once guest’s signed rental contract is confirmed with 50% (of rent) deposit, should guest cancel in writing prior to 60 days of arrival, half of the initial deposit (25% of rent) will be refunded to the card on file, less a 3.50% processing/admin fee. Should villa owner be able to replace the reservation in whole or in part, the (prorated) un-refunded balance of the initial deposit will be returned less any re-booking costs incurred. Should the owner not be able to replace the reservation, the balance of the initial deposit is forfeited.
PANDEMIC/EPIDEMIC EXCEPTION: Should a declared Pandemic or Epidemic prevent reasonable travel options to the destination, the guest may cancel and the entire initial deposit will be refunded, less a processing/admin fee of 3.50%.
2). Once full payment has been made (or the 60-day mark has passed and the guest has not paid the balance), should guest cancel in writing, GCVC will refund any occupancy taxes, cleaning fees and refundable damage deposits to the card on file. The dates will be opened on the calendar for rebooking. Should the reservation be replaced in whole or part, the guest will receive up to 100% of monies paid less rebooking charges incurred. Should GCVC not be able to replace the reservation, rent and service fee will be forfeited; however, guest will receive a credit for 50% of rent paid to be used for a similar stay at the same property, taken within 13 months of the original date of arrival.
PANDEMIC/EPIDEMIC EXCEPTION: Should a declared Pandemic or Epidemic prevent reasonable travel options after full payment, the guest may cancel up until day of arrival and all payments will be refunded, less a 3.50% processing/admin fee.
HURRICANE WARNING EXCEPTION: Should a hurricane warning (not a hurricane watch) affect Grand Cayman’s ability to welcome guests; the guest will have the option of rescheduling the trip with generous owner flexibility or a full 100% refund of all monies paid with no deduction.
We strongly advise the purchase of CSA trip interruption insurance to indemnify the risk of cancellation, weather delay, airline interruption, medical reasons for non-travel, etc.
Cayman Airport Closure & Your Options to Rebook or Cancel
Monday, March 23, 2020
At the current time, there is a Level 4 Advisory from the US State Department advising to avoid international travel. To clarify, it is not a travel ban.
The Cayman Islands, as an independent country, closed its airport effective yesterday until midnight, April 12th, in order to prevent the importation of the virus and to allow its 65,000 citizens to self-isolate. Anyone returning to the Cayman Islands from abroad this weekend must self-quarantine for 14 days. The airport will be shut down, except for medical emergencies and cargo shipments. The Cayman Islands rely on tourism and takes virus prevention extremely seriously.
Our reservations team spent last week rescheduling and refunding over 185 guests who were immediately impacted for arrival until April 13th when our airport is rescheduled to reopen to international travel. Over 100 guests we are happy to say, decided to reschedule and take advantage of scheduling different dates, adding an extra free day, etc. Some guests just could not commit to dates or for health reasons could not commit to future travel. We refunded them 100%.
We now need to reach out to all guests arriving within the next 21-90 days to offer updated information and a flexible option.
GUEST ARRIVALS WITHIN THE NEXT 90 DAYS
Many of our homeowners have authorized us to offer to move affected guests with an arrival date up to 90 days out, to reschedule alternate future dates at full-value at the same property within the next 12-15 months. Flexible terms apply.
1. If you would like to explore rescheduled dates in the future, please check your villa’s calendar following the instructions below. The owners will be very generous with dates and rate differences for guests whose travel may be impacted by travel restrictions or reduced flights from their resident country. We will turn around your request immediately and resend a Revised Statement of Guest Account. Those new dates can also be changed by yourself in the future, subject to villa availability.
2. If you are arriving WITHIN the next 60 days and wish to cancel with a full refund, we must contact the villa owner to ask for that accommodation. See our contractual cancellation policy below. For refund requests beyond 60 days, please be patient and monitor conditions. If you cancel, per section II in the policy below, and take the ½ rent credit towards another stay at the villa, and your original dates become cancellable, of course, we will refund you 100%.
As always, if for your arrival date, or even your newly rescheduled arrival date, are impacted by the Cayman Islands refusing your plane to land for any reason, our homeowners will refund you 100%.
FINAL PAYMENT DUE DATE RELAXED
Our standard deposit terms are to pay in full 60 days prior to arrival. We have always automatically charged the card on the reservation at 60 days. For arrivals through August 31st, we will collect the final payment 30 days prior to occupancy and will only charge the card on file after receiving permission from the cardholder.
We understand the disruptions the virus has caused in our everyday lives. However, we are looking to be as flexible as we can possibly be. Please understand that we act as an agent for over 80 different homeowners and each is different.
Grand Cayman Villas & Condos (GCVC) has been managing vacation villas on Grand Cayman for over 18 years. We are independently-owned, have an office on Grand Cayman and own Silver Thatch Guest Services, our exclusive guest services provider on-island.
We have staff and assets in place on-island and are committed to our guests and owners for the long-run. We will do whatever we can to accommodate our guests and owners during this period of anxiety & uncertainty.
Our Contractual Cancellation Policy
I. Once “booked” (paid 50% of rent), should guest cancel (by written email or fax) prior to paying the full rental amount (or prior to 60 days from occupancy), 25% of the rent will be returned by US$ draft or credit card as soon as possible. Should GCV be able to replace the reservation (or any portion), the prorated balance of the initial deposit will be returned less any re-booking costs and/or credit card fees incurred. Should GCV not be able to replace the reservation, the remaining 25% of rent is forfeited.
II. Once full payment has been made (or the 60 day mark has passed and the guest has not paid the balance), should guest cancel prior to arrival, every effort will be made to replace the reservation. Occupancy taxes and refundable damage deposits will be refunded in full immediately. Should the reservation be replaced (or any portion), the guest will receive a prorated balance of RENT paid less rebooking charges/credit card fees incurred.
III. Should GCV not be able to replace the reservation, rent & service fee will be forfeited, however, guest will receive a credit for 50% of rent to be used as credit for a subsequent stay at the same property to be taken within 13 months of the date of cancellation. We strongly advise the purchase of CSA trip interruption insurance to indemnify the risk of cancellation, weather delays, airline interruption, medical reason for non-travel, etc. If a cancelling guest successfully claims CSA for trip insurance, the above credit is extinguished (as guest has been made whole.) To be clear: once the 60 day mark has been reached, the only funds returned will be any taxes & damage deposits paid unless the reservation is replaced in full.
Rebooking Policy Due to Travel Restrictions
Monday, March 16, 2020
As the virus continues to affect world travel, many of our homeowners have reached out and authorized us to offer to move affected guests with an arrival date through April 30, 2020, to alternate future dates at full-value at the same property within the next 15 months (rather than apply 50% of rent lost towards a subsequent stay per our contractual cancellation policy).
Most of our homeowners have given us the discretion to be very generous and accommodating. If you are contemplating cancellation -or- we have already processed your cancellation, refunding taxes and the refundable security deposit with 50% of the rent credit to be used as stated above per your rental contract, AND YOU WOULD PREFER TO TRANSFER FULL-VALUE TO DATES IN THE FUTURE, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your reservation/folio number and dates for a future stay. We will confirm with the owner that option.
Many of our homeowners are also not going to nit-pick about future dates being a little more expensive than your current dates (except Holidays). Likewise, if your future picked dates are cheaper, you can either elect to stay longer or we can credit you the difference. Our homeowners are trying to be as accommodating as possible given the situation.
To view your villa’s calendar, visit our homepage, scroll to the middle of the page, and use the Find a Villa by Name tool (pictured on right) in the blue block along the left. Select your villa’s name, then click on the Calendar tab to view available dates. Remember, you can shift your dates at the same property up to 13 months out. Please let us know if this offer can help you and your group.
In the event, we may have already processed your cancellation, you can still partake in this option. Email our reservations team with your reservation/folio number, original dates of stay, along with your new proposed dates and we will follow-up accordingly.
Our homeowners, as well as our entire staff, ultimately want you to come and visit once we have safely weathered this storm.
We regret the disruptions the virus has caused in our everyday lives. However, we are looking to be as flexible as we can possibly be. Please understand that we act as an agent for over 80 different homeowners and each is different.
Again, if you have an arrival date through the end of April and prefer to shift your dates rather than cancel your stay altogether, please contact email@example.com with your reservation/folio number, original arrival, and departure dates, as well as your proposed new dates up to 15 months out (that we may also change later subject to availability).
Cayman Islands Government on Alert as Coronavirus Spreads
Thursday, March 12, 2020
We at Grand Cayman Villas & Condos (GCVC) want to share with you what precautions the Cayman Islands government is taking, as well as what we are currently seeing, regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on Grand Cayman tourism.
The Cayman Islands is a sovereign foreign country and controls its own airspace as well as ports. The Cayman Islands relies on tourism and the finance industry for a large percentage of GDP. They are not going to risk the health of tourists just to further those industries. Whether a hurricane, natural disaster or any health issue, our government acts quickly to protect both its citizens and visitors alike. Three weeks ago, the Port Authority refused entry of a cruise ship with one suspected case of COVID-19–turns out it was just the common flu. We tend to over-protect out of an abundance of caution.
Our island-nation of 65,000+ residents has the highest standard of living in the entire Caribbean with the best healthcare, telecommunications, and utility infrastructure. We have 3 hospitals on-island, including the new Cayman Health City. We are not a 3rd world country by any means. We have many direct flights from US gateway cities and few visitors have to change planes abroad traveling with others who may have arrived from affected countries. We have no direct flights from Europe.
Our Cayman Health Service Authority (HSA) was placed on alert weeks ago regarding COVID-19 and maintains a website (https://www.hsa.ky/public-health/coronavirus/) to keep the public up to date. They report any suspected cases and are charged with protecting the public.
Our HSA, of course, must assume that the COVID-19 will ultimately affect Grand Cayman and has measures in places to quarantine and care for any affected individuals. The island is small so word travels quickly. Preventive measures like self-quarantine, increased personal hygiene, and more frequent hand-washing are commonplace. I was just there last week and spent each day driving around the island and speaking with many residents and government officials. Our restaurants, water sports providers and shops are in full swing. We don’t have remote areas on the island where the population is isolated from the news. Everyone knows what is happening globally and taking appropriate precautions.
WHAT WE ARE SEEING
We receive about 2-3 calls a day from confirmed guests (mostly new visitors to the island) asking if there are any travel restrictions to Cayman. There are none.
We welcome up to 3,000 passengers each day to our airport and Grand Cayman is very busy. Last week, we were sold out for both condos and villas and had to turn away business. The resort hotels are seeing some corporate event cancellations, but out of caution and corporate responsibility especially where attendees are arriving from European and Asian offices. Those vacancies have been filled in part by families scrambling to save spring breaks originally booked abroad.
We have seen an influx of last-minute inquiries from displaced families booked to Europe, the US Northwest, and the Far East as well as families canceling cruises. Cayman has direct flights from the US and has the healthcare infrastructure and standard of living that rivals most cities in the USA.
We have seen only 5 last-minute villa cancellations due in part to COVID-19; 2 of them were due to a guest being quarantined as a precaution, 3 were out of a fear of flying (and we understand). Of the 5 cancellations, 2 of them were replaced with last-minute displaced tourists.
We do our best to be part of the solution when we can. We have over 80 families on-island right now enjoying the weather and time away.
OUR CANCELLATION POLICY
Our unique cancellation policy can be reviewed at the following week: https://www.grandcaymanvillas.net/deposit-cancellation/
If a villa guest cancels, we understand it is usually out of their control and done so reluctantly. Outside of 60 days, we are standard and many times we can replace the booking to make the canceling guest almost whole (save the credit card fee we incurred to process their deposit).
If a guest cancels within 60 days and has paid in full, we not only refund the refundable damage deposit and 13% occupancy taxes collected, our owners provide that guest (unless the guest is compensated by trip insurance) a “credit” of 50% of the rent forfeited to use towards a future stay at the same villa, taken within 13 months of the original stay. Further, if the owner is able to replace any/all of the canceled dates, we will refund the guest pro-rata for any dates replaced and the future credit is reduced accordingly.
Many of our competitors are silent in their policy to replacing the canceled stay, tax refund, etc. GCVC feels our policy above is uniquely even-handed and balanced.
What our owners cannot do is to indemnify multiple guest risks of illness, death, military obligations, travel/flight delay or fear to responses of COVID-19. Our cancelation policies are set. We offer optional trip insurance to indemnify many of those risks.
SHOULD THE CAYMAN ISLANDS REFUSE TO ALLOW AIRCRAFT LANDINGS, that is tantamount to a Hurricane Warning and our “Cayman Kind” policy of issuing a full refund or full-value rescheduling of your vacation dates will come into play.
The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism set this policy years ago and our owners enthusiastically support it. We want your future business.
Unless trip insurance was purchased prior to January 29th, CSA/Generali (our trip insurance provider) has specifically exempted any COVID-19 related claims as a “Foreseeable Risk” post-January 29th. Standard risks are still covered.
Thanks for your business and we look forward to welcoming you to Grand Cayman.