By Rae Walberg for The Island Eye News
Despite the usual hustle and bustle of mid-Summer tourists, Wild Dunes Resorts sits quiet after temporarily suspended resort operations.
“In light of the dynamic COVID-19 situation in the surrounding area of our resort and to prioritize the safety and well-being of our colleagues and guests, we are temporarily suspending most resort operations,” Wild Dunes Managing Director Frank Fredericks said.
The suspension of resort operations, which ends Aug. 14, includes all food and beverage and retail services as well as most recreational services, according to Fredericks.
However, Wild Dunes vacation rentals, which include privately owned homes and condos, are continuing to operate with limited services.
According to Fredericks, Wild Dunes also is halting new reservations for both resort and vacation rental stays until its re-opening and is contacting guests with existing reservations to rebook or cancel without penalty.
All guests who have rented property through Wild Dunes Resorts have left, according to Fredericks.
The decision came after multiple employees tested positive for COVID-19 and one employee reportedly died. The cause of death, however, was not confirmed to be a virus related to Wild Dunes.
Fredericks said infected employees have received medical attention and have not returned to Wild Dunes property since contracting the virus. He also said that Wild Dunes has communicated with staff and guests who have been in contact with infected staff members.
“As soon as we learned of a colleague infection in June, the resort immediately took additional measures across impacted areas above and beyond our enhanced cleaning protocols,” he said.
According to Fredericks, there currently have been no reported cases among recent or past guests.
Due to the decrease in resort operations, Fredericks confirmed that Wild Dunes is “temporarily furloughing many managers and reducing hours for most colleagues.”
“We understand the decision to temporarily suspend operations directly impacts our valued colleagues and their families, whose health and wellbeing is always a top priority,” Fredericks said. “It’s our goal to emerge with strength on the other side of this crisis, with our colleagues and guests safe and healthy.”
Fredericks said caring for colleagues remains a central focus of Hyatt hotels, the parent company of Wild Dunes. He said furloughed employees can currently receive financial support from the Hyatt Care Fund.
As the pandemic trails into its eighth month, Fredericks said the resort will continue to take precautions.
“We will continue to closely monitor the ongoing situation, remain vigilant and follow local and state guidelines, as well as enhanced procedures and protocols developed in consideration of guidance and information from various health organizations, including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local authorities and other leading organizations and experts.”