Villas, Condos, Cottage rentals are safer than a hotel in St Lucia

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Dear Sir

While the government of Saint Lucia is at a loss to control the spread of coronavirus, there is no available data to illustrate why Villas, Condos and Cottage rentals are harshly penalized and forced in large part to having their property closed.

My experience as a Villa owner in Saint Lucia, who recently returned to the US following a two months stay, and unable to get the property certified is unspeakable. It is far surpassing my understanding why my Villa which occupies three acres, five self-contained suits, a diamond pool, a cottage, staff quarters, two indoor garages and four outdoor parking on the property, electronic fencing, 24-hours electronic and private security is not allowed to open to receive bookings and my choice of guest.

A recent visit by the ministry of health and the tourism authority to “certify the property” left me even more confused, given the recommendations made. This includes removing books, seashells, even to remove a fruit bowl on the table in the main dining area, allocating a room for nursing staff, an area to sterilize luggage, one of the ‘inspectors’ even looked under the mattress. I have no idea what he was looking for.

I almost lost it and came close to telling the individuals some choice words and to get the hell out of my premises.

The process and procedures are inconclusive. I believe it is deliberate to frustrate and keep the industry closed while the hotels and government self-interest in hotel plants take priority. Certainly, I have no intention of greasing hands or kissing dark crevices, not of my choice.

I pity the property owners who depend on Villas, Condos and Cottage rentals for a living, and those with a mortgage to service. [By the end of this year, there may be a bargain in the real estate market.]

This is not my situation. My Villa on the island is fully paid many years now. And I don’t depend on the rental for a living. Meanwhile, the government needs property taxes, paid-up insurance and VAT, and tax from visitors.

Whether I am on the island or not the property has to be maintained. When I am there, or the property is occupied, that’s an economy by itself. But apparently, the government is too blind and incompetent to understand commerce, and who are the beneficiaries. Notwithstanding, the government does not have a social safety net to care for the workers in these properties that are forced out of work.

The home quarantine that I was subject to is a charade. As a Saint Lucia/American with two passports, on arrival at Hewanorra International Airport (HIA), I was treated as a Saint Lucian, with little privileges, compared to the visitors on the same flight with me.

On arrival with a legitimate test, and documents to self quarantined at my Villa, I was subject to a complete inspection in the local pala – ‘who are you’ – while the guests on the same flight with me were hurried away.

During my 14 days of quarantine at the Villa, thank God, for the amenities and space, however, not one phone call and/or visit from the ministry of health or related authorities. On the 14 day, I called the ministry of health to advise of my next step.

I was subsequently asked a series of questions, including are you married? And told Okay. Someone, will call you back. [I am still waiting for the phone call] I simply cut-off the wrist band and resumed appropriate activity.

Based on 257 new cases of COVID-19, active cases currently in the country of 920; cases diagnosed in the country to date 1813 and 18 deaths: What percentage of this data is relative to Villas, Condos and Cottage rentals?

The answer is simple: They are all related to the front door of hotel occupancy.

 St Lucian/American Villa Owner

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