By: L.N. Reklai
Palau Pacific Resort, an award-winning resort in Palau, temporarily closes its rooms and food & beverages services until September 30, 2020 due to COVID-19 impact, according to its General Manager Lucy Sugiyama.
The resort recreational facilities will remain open to its club members only and will also continue to accept new members. Sugiyama added that Splash Dive Shop and Mandara Spa will remain open to public.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, all regular flights to Palau have been suspended and travel restrictions are imposed around the world. Such changes have drastically impacted tourism industry. For the first time, Palau experienced zero tourists in the month of April of this year.
As result of temporary closure, Palau Pacific Resort had released most of its 300 plus employees leaving only 47 to maintain the property and other remaining operations.
“The employees are not fired. Their employments are temporarily suspended but they are still part of PPR family. As soon as operations resume, we will call them back,” added General Manager Sugiyama.
The employees will continue to be part of PPR pension plan and contribute small co-payment to the company’s private medical insurance plan. “Their share of the insurance premium is small and the insurance covers their family.”
“This COVID-19 is also a blessing in disguise. We tell our employees to take time to rest, spend time with their families and start small home gardens and such. This industry is 27/7, 365 days a year with long hours and it is a good time for the employees to take time off,” expressed GM Sugiyama.
Asked how the released employees are doing, Sugiyama said that they’ve all applied for the WIOA assistance. Under the WIOA assistance, employees can be eligible for assistance of $600 a week to $900 a week depending on their eligibility.
Meanwhile some of them have also applied for the CROSS Act assistance and some have signed up to the temporary job placement program.
“Our worry now is that some employers may want to steal them away from us. Our employees are some of the best, with great work ethics and customer service and now that they are working with others, we are a bit worried we may lose some of them,” stated Sugiyama.
Sugiyama added that this time will also give the company opportunity to come up with procedures for operating under the “new normal”. “We have to make plans and adjustments that will enable us to deliver the service to our customers while implementing the new “norms” when services resume.
Palau Pacific Resort in the last few years have invested in Pristine Villas and over the water Bungalows catering to high end customers. According to General Manager Sugiyama, the resort owners are committed to continuing their operations.
“We are very confident that we will overcome this and things will return back to the “new normal.”