Surviving and thriving over COVID-19 time

November 10, 2020 | 17:56
While the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a resounding blow to the tourism and hospitality industry, the sun did not stop shining – and some places received a lot more shine than others. 
surviving and thriving over covid 19 time
Martin Koerner, commercial director of Alma Resort Cam Ranh

To say 2020 is an unprecedented year is something of an understatement. COVID-19 continues its relentless pace unabated; wreaking havoc globally, tragically cutting short more than a million lives and decimating economies in its wake. Life as we knew it has been turned upside down and then some.

The tourism industry undoubtedly has been one of the hardest-hit sectors. Countries have sealed off their borders and major airlines have grounded their fleets, severely restricting travel movements that we all previously took for granted in a bid to stop the virus’s spread.

While I genuinely do not want to detract from the suffering of many people, businesses and hoteliers during these heavily turbulent times globally, we must look for a silver lining. At new five-star Alma Resort on Cam Ranh peninsula, we’re pleased to report that it’s not all doom and gloom.

surviving and thriving over covid 19 time
Located along a beautiful stretch of seashore at Bãi Dài in Cam Ranh Bay, the new Alma resort makes you feel as though you've stumbled into a little piece of paradise.

To give you some background, our 30-hectare resort overlooking stunning Long Beach has achieved relatively high occupancy compared to more traditional hotels and resorts during this troubling year. Since reopening our resort at the end of May (after temporarily closing in April due to restrictions imposed across Vietnam to combat the virus), we have welcomed an average of 1,500 guests daily.

Our guest numbers have been buoyed by a huge demand for multigenerational travel, with our oversized accommodations, including our three-bedroom pavilions with their own private pools, catering to families of up to four generations. At times, we have experienced occupancy of up to 80 per cent – an incredible feat in the current climate. By accommodating strong guest numbers, Alma helps to keep local people in jobs and boost local tourism.

After Vietnam closed its borders to international travellers earlier this year, our team has been amazed by how much demand there has been for travel in Vietnam by the Vietnamese. After the first lockdown and so much dour news worldwide, to see our resort fill up the way it has is more than encouraging as optimistic locals explore their own backyard, albeit with a newfound appreciation for travel in light of the restrictions.

There are numerous reasons that have come together to underpin our success.

surviving and thriving over covid 19 time

Alma is a special resort in that we are the first in Vietnam to pioneer vacation ownership, a business model that has been established around the world with huge success for a long time. We are helping to create new travel habits for Vietnamese people through vacation ownership.

Essentially, as part of their vacation ownership, guests can enjoy a holiday with their family at our resort every year. Their vacation is well and truly planned ahead, resulting in no hassle or fuss, and they will come back to holiday at our beautiful part of the world, in Cam Ranh overlooking Vietnam’s best beach, year after year.

As we have created a pool of loyal customers who will stay with us year after year, and our source of guests is very stable as a result of vacation ownership, Alma is less exposed to the dramatic downturn affecting more traditional hotels and resorts during the global pandemic.

This mixed business model is behind our strong occupancy that, to provide some further context, averaged 60 per cent in July compared to an average of 15 per cent in Cam Ranh, and it has also seriously helped underscore our resort’s long-term survival. I believe COVID-19 demonstrates that the tourism industry needs to be more innovative to ensure long-term survival and vacation ownership is one way we can demonstrate such innovation.

surviving and thriving over covid 19 time

The Vietnamese authorities’ efforts to promote domestic tourism with the “Vietnamese people travel in Vietnam” campaign has really encouraged people to explore the beauty of their own backyard in a safe and affordable way.

Our high occupancy numbers make for a promising sign for domestic tourism and we believe that in the time of COVID-19, many people recognise the importance of quality family time and travelling together is a great way to strengthen family bonds.

It’s also important to mention that Vietnam has been hailed a success story the world over for its excellent handling of the pandemic, due to the authorities’ proactive containment strategy based on comprehensive testing, tracing, and quarantining. The way Vietnam has managed this situation has definitely given people more confidence in domestic travel.

surviving and thriving over covid 19 time
surviving and thriving over covid 19 time

Which leads me to another reason for Alma’s success. We are a 30ha beachfront family resort with an incredible range of world-class facilities and services to entertain all ages. In addition to our oversized suites and pavilions, other drawing cards include a science museum, a 6,000-square-metre waterpark replete with a lazy river, wave pool, kid’s pool, and water slides, 13-treatment room spa, art gallery, indoor and outdoor cinemas, convention centre, and amphitheatre.

surviving and thriving over covid 19 time

Our resort also features a youth centre with virtual reality games, kid’s club, water sports centre, gymnasium and yoga room and an 18-hole putting green. We have a spectacular cascade of 12 beachfront swimming pools and an eclectic selection of restaurants helmed by leading chefs, a food court with an array of local and international cuisine, a sports bar, pool bar and beach bar, and mini supermarket. There is so much to see and do at Alma, enticing people to come back to holiday here again and again.

As Vietnam’s leading lifestyle resort, in addition to families, we also resonate with groups of friends and couples as our guests are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to creating a unique holiday suited to all of their interests and preferences. While the kids have endless options from dawn until dusk, couples can experience a getaway resort with the finest cuisine, luxury pavilions, indulgent spa moments and much more.

It’s also important to note that we have taken the threat of COVID-19 very seriously from its onset, initially introducing a host of stringent health and safety measures to keep our guests, staff, and the community safe, ranging from body temperature checks and physical distancing to frequent disinfection of common areas and staff training.

While we kept those initial measures in place, we then introduced a second round of strict health and safety measures in response to the virus-flare up in Danang in late July, ranging from temporarily closing our 13-villa spa, 170sq.m gym and yoga room, suspending buffet breakfast at our main restaurant Alma Garden, and expanding our in-room dining menu.

surviving and thriving over covid 19 time

We cautiously resumed such services only when it was completely safe to do so after Vietnam contained its second wave of COVID-19. Staff training has been a major priority, particularly COVID-19 training to ensure our staff are fully versed in all of our health and safety procedures. We think of our whole team as housekeepers and cleaners to combat the threat of the virus.

We genuinely believe Alma is an open house for everyone, particularly our local community. From the beginning, we are the only resort in our location that doesn’t have a wall around us; everything is open. We are here with open arms. We also have very affordable day passes giving locals and expats access to our infinity swimming pools, Splash Water Park, and our beautiful stretch of Long Beach as well as food and beverage vouchers.

By Martin Koerner, Commercial director, Alma Resort Cam Ranh

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