The Caribbean’s Hottest Hotel Amenity? Free Stays If You Get COVID.

Some resorts are even offering a free extended stay for positive tests, which could be… problematic.

The Caribbean’s Hottest Hotel Amenity? Free Stays If You Get COVID.
Daniel Slim/Getty

The latest in COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements went into effect yesterday, requiring all individuals over the age of two traveling into the U.S. to provide proof of a negative test prior to entry. The decision sent shockwaves through the industry, with thousands of travelers racing to modify pre-existing plans. 

And it’s no wonder why. Travelers are now being forced to consider several questions and subsequent — potentially unpleasant — alternatives prior to booking. For example: How does one go about securing a test in a foreign country? Are the results guaranteed to come back in time? What happens if a test comes back positive? And what if leaving to get tested conflicts with a mandated quarantine? 

It’s certainly a lot to think about. That said, there’s good news for anyone traveling to the Caribbean in the near future, and it’s this: they’ve already thought about it, and they’ve got you covered. All the way covered.

As a result of the latest round of restrictions, many Caribbean-based resorts are now offering free return COVID tests on location to all guests as an added amenity, in a move they hope will placate incoming travelers from outside of the travel bubble and continue to keep the tourism in the region afloat.

Take the Ladera in Soufrière, St. Lucia — a resort featuring 37 open-air suites that each come with their own personal plunge pools and views of the Pitons and the Carribean. Up until recently, they were offering on-site COVID testing at $250 a pop, scheduled in advance through the front desk at the guest’s request. Now, all tests — the results of which you are guaranteed to receive in 72 hours — will be complimentary for all guests staying a minimum of four nights.

Bizarrely, that deal gets even sweeter if guests are able to fulfill one additional condition: literally contract COVID. As of this month, Ladera has extended their COVID-time offerings to include complimentary accommodations and meals (with alcoholic beverages being the one exclusion) for all guests who test positive prior to their scheduled departure, until they are eventually cleared to return home.

“All your meals will be delivered to your suite, following covid-19 protocols. A special daily menu selection will be provided, and you will be accommodated in a Ladera private suite with a private heated pool and all Ladera amenities that apply,” their website has been updated to say.

If you read that and thought to yourself, “That actually sounds really nice,” before remembering that COVID-19 is a highly contagious, unforgiving monster of a virus that will most likely exclude you from enjoying your tropical vacation to the fullest extent, you’re not alone. It makes all of the strategically placed obstacles meant to deter extracurricular travel feel small by comparison. In fact, it almost seems to contradict them entirely: Got COVID? Enjoy an all-expenses-paid stay at a five-star resort with private plunge pool, on the house! 

Of course, all of that is — according to the site — assuming that you’re asymptomatic and, in the very real likelihood that you are not, it is unclear how you will be spending the duration of your time on the island. Presumably at the hospital?

But Ladera isn’t an outlier here. AM Resorts — parent company to almost 60 individual resorts globally — is now offering not only complimentary antigen testing, but will also cover the cost of quarantine at the property for up to 14 days for any guest hailing from a country with post-international-travel testing regulations if they happen to test positive during their stay, too. Karisma Hotels and Resorts, with locations in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, is doing the same.

We’d be remiss here not to commend these resorts’ commitment to hospitality at a time that has been exceptionally unkind to their industry. After all, as much of a threat as COVID is, the economic woes that could befall the Caribbean as a result of lost tourism is almost as dire, which only serves to increase the temptation to pick up and visit. It’s also worth nothing that many countries, St. Lucia included, are requiring their own proof of negative testing from international travelers upon entry, meaning this isn’t exactly an open invitation to the COVID-positive to come ride out the storm.

But while travel remains, now more than ever, an intensely personal decision — for reasons both ethical and political — we’d still implore you to do your due diligence before booking your next trip. You don’t want to be the one to bring COVID to a popular tourist destination and its residents, even if there’s an extended vacation on the other end of it waiting for you.


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