2020 started as a year full of good news and exciting new initiatives for Palladium Hotel Group,” says Erika Almaraz Ornelas, Palladium Hotel Group’s weddings sales director for the Americas. “A short while later, we have all been forced into facing an unexpected enemy—COVID-19. We all find ourselves in unprecedented circumstances. Especially during these times, it is more essential than ever that we take care of our customers and partners.”
Adds Rodrigo Esponda, Los Cabos Tourism Board’s managing director, “Travelers are going to be particularly cautious where and how they travel as they return to vacations and special events like weddings.”
With that in mind, in Los Cabos, health and safety guidelines will be adopted across the destination, including hotels, with travel providers in the destination obtaining a Clear Point (Punto Limpio) certification that’s being offered by the Mexican federal government, which adheres to consistent hygiene protocols.
“When it comes to larger gatherings for a destination wedding in Los Cabos, the wedding coordinator will ensure to provide rigorous communication of all health and safety protocols,” says Esponda. “Upon entering and exiting the wedding venues and different areas of the wedding event, guests are highly encouraged to disinfect their hands by using the venue’s provided hands-free sanitizer dispensers or personal sanitizer.”
A spokesperson for Quintana Roo, adds that, “The Mexican Caribbean, as a favorite global destination for weddings, is participating in the preparation of the Global Protocols for the New Normal led by WTTC.”
In fact, NIZUC Resort & Spa, located in Cancun, is “adapting to the ‘new normal’ standard,” says Darrick Eman, the hotel’s global director of sales & marketing. “We have new protocols running in the resort that take every precaution, including temperature checks upon arrival, sanitizing luggage, utilizing a high-performance cleaning process with specialized products throughout the resort, and touchless hand sanitizing stations placed throughout. We’ve also adapted a new design to allow social distancing in our restaurants and private events, in addition to new protocols when serving F&B.”
Meanwhile, Palace Resorts & Le Blanc Spa Resorts recently rolled out their own safety standard, Purely Palace & Purely Le Blanc, featuring over 140 preventive actions. “These safety protocols include everything from crowd control in public areas to enhanced sanitation for all guests’ accommodations and suites, among many more initiatives,” says Deyanira Sosa, U.S. groups & weddings sales director for Palace & Le Blanc Resorts.
Hotel Xcaret also released its own health protocols, 360 Xafety, covering all of the establishments and business units, including weddings and other events.
“After all of this,” says Jan LaPointe, director of sales & marketing, North America, for Haven Resorts & Spas, “I believe the global traveler in general will become diligent and will take extra precautions when transiting airports, and on airplanes, etc.”
Generally, I think we’ll see smaller destination weddings—more intimate, personal, with your favorite people. People will splurge a bit more—life, as we’ve seen is short.
— Jan LaPointe, Director of Sales & Marketing, North America, Haven Resorts & Spas
More Intimate Ceremonies with New F&B Standards
“Generally, I think we’ll see smaller destination weddings—more intimate, personal, with your favorite people,” says LaPointe. “People will splurge a bit more—life, as we’ve seen, is short. We can offer to ‘Zoom your wedding’ to all guests. So now you don’t have to invite your great aunt or third cousin or boss, but can fulfill that feeling of wanting to share the moment by offering the wedding via Zoom. Less guilt. Less table-seating worries.” In fact, says Sosa, “The request for virtual components has grown exponentially. Couples can live stream their wedding for those who can no longer attend.”
Yes, “weddings may be smaller,” says the Quintana Roo spokesperson, “but that will not keep the bride and groom from having their dream of saying ‘I do’ in some of our unbelievable locations.” Another new outcome post-pandemic, says Viviana Salgado, weddings and events corporate manager at Grupo Xcaret, is that, “We are seeing wedding parties that are designing their own personalized wedding face masks
When it comes to new F&B standards, “Los Cabos’ wedding venues will aim to limit the handling of food and utensils by guests by limiting the use of self-serve food stations and changing food utensils frequently,” says Esponda. “Wedding coordinators will ensure that the expected number of guests does not exceed the maximum capacity for the respective venue. And, of course, the coordinator will work with the wedding hosts to implement social distancing practices where possible, such as arranging tables at least three feet apart and implementing safer exchange of food, utensils, glassware and plates between service staff and guests. Also, wedding service staff will wear masks and gloves when necessary, such as when serving food, and will maintain a 6-ft. distance from guests when possible.”
We have also seen the passion for travel is still very much alive. In fact, after being stuck at home these last few weeks, travelers are eager to pack their bags and go on their next vacation. Now more than ever people are starting to value their time away with their loved ones and are more excited than ever to travel. A great value will be placed on experiences over material items and ultimately this is what we believe will help keep the travel industry afloat moving forward.
— Deyanira Sosa, U.S. Groups & Weddings Sales Director, Palace & Le Blanc Resorts
Almaraz Ornelas adds, “We have to start from the premise that every wedding is unique. With this, I mean we will have to address wedding by wedding and group by group to apply the new policies of social distancing, capacities of our restaurants and ceremony venues.”
Some properties, such as Le Blanc have opted to remove all buffets from each restaurant. Hotel Xcaret, however, isn’t removing its buffets, but rather turning them into an assisted buffet. “Food will be served from behind a counter by trained staff that will take into consideration all necessary hygiene measures,” says Salgado. At Haven, “cocktail and reception parties will be mostly outdoors, no punches, poured cocktails only, etc.,” says LaPointe.
Although the pandemic has brought many changes to the travel industry, a few things remain the same. For one, “Flexibility, empathy and patience,” says Eman. “Wedding planners and wedding sales managers in the hotels are working together to help the couples make their special day everything they dreamed while also trying to keep the business.”
“I think most couples are aware that they will have to make adjustments to their initial wedding plan,” points out Salgado, “but wanting a unique experience in an extraordinary venue remains their priority.”
“For smaller groups of travelers,” says Esponda, “such as a couple on a honeymoon, they’ll find Los Cabos offers just what they need for their romantic getaway. Many hotels and resorts offer luxury, private residences and villas that naturally lend themselves to safer social distancing practices. Our sprawling beaches and numerous outdoor activities may bring additional comfort in our ‘new normal,’ where space and distance will
Almaraz Ornelas says Palladium is expecting lots of honeymooners. “Actually, we are currently working on some new collections for honeymooners, including private dinners by the beach, breakfast in bed, and spa services. All this booked before arrival, to help them celebrate during their stay without worrying about schedules and options.”
Most of the honeymoon trips have been rescheduled, but honeymooners are keeping the same itinerary in terms of length and activities planned.
— Viviana Salgado, Weddings and Events Corporate Manager, Grupo Xcaret
At Hotel Xcaret, “Most of the honeymoon trips have been rescheduled, but honeymooners are keeping the same itinerary in terms of length of stay and activities planned,” says Salgado. “One of our key differentiators for honeymooners in particular is our All-Fun Inclusive concept, which grants them access to all of our parks and tours, and given that we are gradually reopening the parks, most honeymooners have decided to wait until all parks are open before traveling.
Sosa has also seen honeymooners keeping their original plan, albeit changing the dates. “We have seen that the majority of couples have been sticking to their original itineraries, but have also been taking extra precautions. This means they are booking everything (like transportation, tours, add-ons) through us.”
On a final note, she adds, “We have also seen the passion for travel is still very
much alive. In fact, after being stuck at home these last few weeks, travelers are eager to pack their bags and go on their next vacation. Now more than ever people are starting to value their time away with their loved ones and are more excited
than ever to travel. A great value will be placed on experiences over material items and ultimately this is what we believe swill help keep the travel industry afloat moving forward.”
Grupo Xcaret: xcaret.com/en
Haven Resorts & Spas: havenresorts.com
Los Cabos Tourism Board: visitloscabos.travel
NIZUC Resort & Spa: nizuc.com
Palace Resorts: palaceresorts.com
Palladium Hotel Group: palladiumhotelgroup.com/en
Quintana Roo Tourism Board: mexicancaribbean.travel