Exclusive Resorts’ teams have facilitated nearly 7,000 Member vacations and counting since the start of the pandemic—without anyone needing to quarantine or extend their stay due to a positive test result. But what is it really like to travel right now? Here, our team and Members share their firsthand experiences of what it’s like to navigate the ever-evolving testing processes, procedures, and travel restrictions with the Club. 

Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica

Travelers: Stacey B., Member Since 2008 | Payton Y., Exclusive Resorts Employee
Origin: Durham, NC | Denver, CO
Arrival Date: January 9, 2021 | January 25, 2021

PRE-ARRIVAL & AIRPORT:
PY: Costa Rica does not require a negative COVID-19 test result but does require proof of regional health insurance covering COVID-related incidences. Our Concierge Ricardo worked with a local broker to purchase travel insurance on our behalf. We then uploaded the plan number and completed the online Health Pass application 48-hours prior to departure. We were instantly supplied a QR code which we presented at check-in in the U.S. and again at customs in Costa Rica.

IN-RESIDENCE:
SB: Every single staff member onsite wore a mask. We felt safer in Costa Rica than we did in America. The Exclusive Resorts staff is doing a super job at keeping everyone safe while making sure you have a terrific time.

ACTIVITIES:
SB: We played tennis, did stand-up paddle boards, got Wave Runners, rode the complimentary e-bikes, had outdoor massages, and used the gym facilities at Poro Poro Beach Club. We found the pool and beach largely uncrowded.

TRIP HIGHLIGHT:
SB: Our teenagers also participated in virtual schooling. The WiFi at the villa is great and supported all of their MS Teams and Zoom meetings. They could take class outside and were usually rewarded at the end of the day with a monkey visitor or two.

DINING:
SB: Many of the restaurants in Costa Rica were open for outdoor dining. We alternated between dining out and grilling fresh seafood and meat at our residence, delivered daily by the Poro Poro Beach Club. The housekeepers were still offering their breakfast service. They wore masks while preparing our meal and promptly departed so we could eat comfortably.

DEPARTURE & RETURN TO U.S.:
PY: Our Concierge easily coordinated an on-site COVID test for us with a friendly local doctor. He quickly administered the test outside on the patio of our residence and emailed us results within 48 hours. We just had to show proof of our negative test along with our passport at the airport during check-in. Simple!

Los Cabos, Mexico

Traveler: Joey W.Member Since 2017 
Origin: Jacksonville, FL 
Arrival: December 27, 2020 

PRE-ARRIVAL & AIRPORT: Esperanza was the perfect place to get away—there was no COVID test requirement for entry to Mexico, and we found customs was quick and easy upon our arrival.

IN-RESIDENCE: Everyone at the resort was incredible with COVID precautions. All staff members always wore masks—from the driver to the Concierge, to every poolside or restaurant employee, and our private in-residence chefs.

ACTIVITIES & EXCURSIONS: At Esperanza in Los Cabos, all activities and meals were easily conducted outside—from morning fitness bootcamps on the beach and kids’ club activities, to poolside relaxation and outdoor spa appointments. We even chartered a private whale watching cruise. Our Concierge Romel was incredible. He handled our grocery orders swiftly and popped by to say hello and check in—from a distance—each day.

TRIP HIGHLIGHT: Our kids loved running around the resort with their buddies. It was wonderful to see them laughing and playing again like they had before the pandemic. It was a trip we all really needed to recharge, but I didn’t realize how badly we truly needed it until we were there.

DINING: At Esperanza, there were four different outdoor dining venues to choose from. There were even special themed events during our stay. We also ordered groceries and prepared a few meals in our residence. We were also able to hire a private chef a couple of the nights. He wore a mask and ensured we felt comfortable at all times.

Nevis, West Indies

Traveler: Caitlin A., Exclusive Resorts Employee
Origin: Darien, CT
Arrival Date: January 9, 2021

PRE-ARRIVAL & AIRPORT: Nevis and St. Kitts require a negative COVID-19 test result from an approved lab taken up to 72-hours prior to travel. We had some difficulty finding a lab in our area that was ISO/IEC accredited, so the Concierge team contacted the St. Kitts Chief Medical Officer directly for lab approval—which was pretty incredible. Timing for everything was tight, but the on-site team ensured we had what we needed. While I felt completely safe onboard my plane (it was basically empty), I was surprised by how busy Newark Airport was and relieved I was wearing a double mask and face shield when going through airport security. Prior to check-in I was asked to present my documents (provided by the St. Kitts government) before my boarding pass could be issued. Onboard, I packed a metal straw so I could stay hydrated without removing my mask.

IN-RESIDENCE: We coordinated a private taxi and boat transfer with our Concierge to get to our residence from the airport—all incredibly safe and socially distant. Upon arrival, a full PPE kit was provided in my Nevis residence with masks, alcohol wipes, and hand sanitizer. We had the option to forgo housekeeping or have them come. We opted for daily service and were required to be outside of the residence when they were present.

ACTIVITIES & EXCURSIONS: Nevis requires that you quarantine at Paradise Beach for seven days, meaning we could not leave the property to explore the island—but we didn’t mind. We happily walked the property (spotting monkeys when we could), went kayaking and paddle boarding, and relaxed at the beach (which we had to ourselves).

DINING: While quarantining at Paradise Beach we took advantage of the on-site outdoor dining, in-residence kitchen for cooking breakfast, and ordered takeout from some local restaurants (easily coordinated with our Concierge). We also arranged for an in-residence private chef experience one evening (masks and gloves were worn).

TRIP HIGHLIGHT: Paradise Beach had live music two of the nights we were there at the beach bar, which we LOVED. While my husband and I were dancing on the beach, for a minute everything felt, well, normal. It was a wonderfully freeing moment after being trapped inside for so many months.

DEPARTURE & RETURN TO U.S.: Three days prior to departure we underwent a PCR test at a neighboring residence. We never had to leave the property and it took less than five minutes. Because we were returning before the new U.S. travel restrictions were live, we were not required to present our negative test result (even though we had it). In hindsight, I wish I had packed a light carry-on so I could have avoided the crowd at the international baggage terminal. We also drove to the airport (which we thought would reduce our touchpoints) but ended up needing to take the AirTrain to our parking garage. In retrospect, I think a private transfer with Savoya or another trusted provider would have been a better option to reduce the amount of time we spent at Newark. All in all, we felt safer in Nevis than we do in Connecticut, and I’m pleased to report that our testing following the trip came back negative. 

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Traveler: Leslie C., Exclusive Resorts Employee
Origin: Charleston, SC
Arrival: December 1, 2020

PRE-ARRIVAL & AIRPORT: I went down to Virgin Gorda right upon the island opening as a guinea pig to smooth the way for Member travel. In order to go to the BVIs, each Member has to fill out a travel application including proof of a negative test, insurance, flight information, and traveler information. The process can be tedious and frustrating, but the on-site team was beyond helpful in guiding me through the process, handling any hiccups, and utilizing contacts on the ground in case any issue arose. Upon arrival, another PCR test is required, administered in a comfortable reception center at the airport. It was quick and easy. Once I exited the airport, I instantly decompressed and was immersed in the island vibes.

IN-RESIDENCE: If I had to go anywhere and quarantine, I couldn’t pick a better place than Virgin Gorda. I had to spend the first night in my residence before receiving my test result. Day 1 – 4 is a quarantine period, meaning you can’t leave the Little Dix Bay resort property. I had access to many amenities except for high-touch areas such as the pool and spa. I was still able to go to the beach (including enjoying beach service), dine at the restaurant, rent sports equipment, and soak in the private pool at my residence. The resort has a simple, color-coded wristband system to easily show which stage of quarantine and testing you’re on—a non-intrusive way of keeping track of the quarantine process.

ACTIVITIES & EXCURSIONS: In Virgin Gorda, the government sends a taxi to your residence on Day 4 to take you to the clinic for another test—just five minutes away. Once I received my negative test within a day or so, I was able to roam around all of the BVI, participating in activities, chartering a boat, going on a dive trip, and exploring the local sights.

TRIP HIGHLIGHT: The island is virtually free of most tourists, leaving you the feeling of being on your own private oasis. I highly recommend a longer stay—working remotely from my residence was easy with fast internet access, and I had more time to participate in activities post-quarantine. It’s a rare opportunity!

DEPARTURE & RETURN TO U.S.: Before departing Virgin Gorda for home, the Concierge helped schedule me an appointment for testing back at the clinic. I received my results quickly, allowing me to return seamlessly to the U.S.

What Other Members Are Saying

“My wife and I were just discussing what we were going to do regarding our return trip to Real Del Mar, Mexico in April. We so desperately wish to return as our November trip was nothing short of spectacular and so healing for us. Thank you for all you are doing to help us maintain some level of confidence in travel planning during this pandemic!”  

O.S., Member since 2018 

“The COVID protocols at Real del Mar are at least as extensive as at home. Every employee wore masks and practiced social distancing. Our concierge, Mario, was super helpful and made sure that our safety was always paramount. After months of quarantine, our Exclusive Resorts trips have been just what the doctor ordered.”  

– E.T., Member since 2014 

“There is no testing required to get in or out of Mexico. We found that the majority of people are good about wearing masks, especially any of the hotel workers. All in all, it was a really relaxing and much-needed vacation after one of the craziest years on record.”

L.L., Member since 2016

“We were in Mexico over New Year's Week and felt incredibly safe. All staff took mask-wearing very seriously and all dining options are outdoors and open-air. It was an incredible week away and I would highly recommend it!”

J.W., Member since 2017

“We have been on a lot of Exclusive Resorts trips, and our private yacht excursion through the Virgin Islands was clearly the best. It was truly a perfect escape from the craziness of the pandemic, and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering it.”

B.S., Member since 2011

Read more Member testimonials—and share yours—on The Community. As always, stay up-to-date on the latest travel requirements and restrictions on each destination’s Know Before You Go page on The Source.