Westin lays off more than 100 staff as tourism crisis continues

Resort takes 'financial decision' after seven months without tourists

With Cayman's tourism industry in free fall, financial services will be relied up to see Cayman through upcoming lean times
The Westin resort has not had any guests since March and there is pent-up demand.

The Westin resort has laid off just over half of its staff amid the continued impact of the coronavirus on tourism in the Cayman Islands.

The Seven Mile Beach hotel has not reopened since the borders closed in March.

Until this month it had kept all of its staff on the payroll.

But with no guests expected over Christmas and no significant return of tourism anticipated during the winter high season, managing director Jim Mauer said it was impossible to continue to maintain full staffing.

Just over 100 people, both Caymanians and work-permit holders, have been let go.

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Mauer said the hotel was committed to rehiring those staff as soon as it became financially feasible.

“We have stood by our staff for seven months but as we approach the year end it takes its toll. We need to make sure we are still here in the future,” he said.

“Our staff are our most important asset and we took this decision with a heavy heart. It was a financial decision… We did everything we could to stave this off.”

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Mauer said the business had been going month-to-month trying to reopen, taking bookings and cancelling them as the expectations around the border situation changed.

He said he understood the government’s stance and was not seeking to blame anyone for the hotel’s situation.

But with no prospect of income over what is traditionally the busiest period of the year, he said the business had been forced to take a “longer-term approach”.

He believes the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine is a sign that the end is in sight for the pandemic.

And he said the hotel had retained a core staff and would be able to reopen to a reduced number of visitors if and when a protocol for arrivals is announced.

He believes there is significant pent-up demand for travel to the Cayman Islands and had hoped to be ready for a “v-shaped” recovery when the borders reopened.

With full staff he said the hotel had been “locked and loaded”, ready for tourism to return.

“Unfortunately we did not quite get there,” he said.

The layoffs mean it will now take longer for the hotel to ramp up for anything close to full occupancy.

“Any volume is good because it would be a crack of light in the door, but we will have to rebuild to handle high volume,” he said.

“Once we do reopen my goal is to welcome all of our people back as soon as we can.”

Despite the timing of the decision, he said staff had understood the reasons behind it and had indicated they were grateful that the hotel had paid them for seven months despite the absence of any business.

The Sunshine Suites, for which Mauer is also the managing director, remains open as a quarantine facility and some of the Westin’s restaurants, including the Tortuga Beach Bar and Grill, are open to the public and for Christmas events.

The Westin’s decision follows the announcement of the Dart group in September that it was scaling back operations at The Ritz-Carlton and Kimpton hotels, laying off more than 400 employees.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I really want the hotel open locally for all comunity of the Cayman Island at the westin Hotel been a great Hotel with wonderfull people inside, but should have better idea like open for Cristmas or for new year would may help with all your finacial problems inside the company and can may help owners also finacial with that. and by trying it would be the best you can may do local but, if you not try you will never know. While you wait until the island open should open the rooms for quarinted pacages. That may help with something to The Hotel.

    a suguest i can do but, is a suguest you can take or let it go my go. Is to open locally But, when you may can do better with finacials, of the hotel to make more money. There when that good action is been take can be positive pr can be negative so positive could be do the effort to open like sunshine Hotel so the company can least make some money otherwise this will face hart than what it is already. So the people who were left there can make allitle while others hotels are doing in on the Cayman Island suport comuniity locally you will be thankfull on future have womderful day. I miss to see you at the Westin and i no longer employee there im so sad you may still remeber me was doing trinning at concierge and worked on housekeeping derpartament hope you are find godbless you where ever you are now. Hope to see you some day againg godbless you. hope that i can work on the Hotel againg i was one of the good enought employee for the company not idea why i been left like this when i was one the best of the deparamnet and all the coments on trip avisor still there for me with a good thoughts and exelente comments . i sad but, i will hope i can get phone call again to work i miss the Westin so much. Kind reglars from Sanchez Yuri.