Riu to close temporarily, up to 95 percent of staff to be furloughed

Just a little more than five months after reopening, Hotel Riu Palace Paradise Island confirmed yesterday that it will be temporarily closing its doors on January 17.

The property was one of the first resorts to reopen on July 1 during the first phase of the tourism sector’s reopening.

Acting Director of Labour John Pinder said 85 to 95 percent of the hotel’s staff will be furloughed for the next few months until the hotel is in a position to reopen.

“We have spoken with management at Riu and they have indicated that they are not laying anybody off so to speak. They’re not terminating anybody, they’re putting them in a further laid off position as related to them waiting for bookings,” he told Guardian Business.

“Simultaneously they’re trying to upgrade the hotel to accommodate the new protocols that are now in place. They also will allow persons who wish to apply for a severance package to apply, but it is not their intention to fire anybody. It is just their intention to lay them off until such time as the hotel could rebound.”

Pinder said the hotel is eyeing early March to reopen, if all bodes well.

“They say that they do expect some bookings for them to continue in March. So during that period they will keep some of the staffers to make the resort compliant with the new protocols, whatever it is that relates to the hotel sector,” he said.

The Riu closed 99 of its properties across 19 countries in March, when the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world in early 2020.

The Paradise Island property was operating at a limited hotel occupancy of 50 to 60 percent.

Asked about the recently announced policy by the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that requires all passengers entering the United States from an international destination to produce a negative COVID-19 test, Pinder said it may have played a role.

“That was not specifically mentioned, but we certainly know that it’s a concern for all the hotel properties right now. Persons right now like to travel with some level of comfort and don’t want to have all that stress.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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