Ask RedWeek / July, 2020

What's opening in top destinations?

What is the latest update on favorite destinations amid COVID? What's opening up and what restrictions are in place that might affect my vacation?

We surveyed several timeshare resorts, large and small, to assess the "new normal" amid a spreading pandemic that shows no signs of cooperating with the prognostications of national health or political leaders.

While optimistic about the measures they've adopted to provide safe havens for travelers, resort managers are adapting, almost daily, to create healthy environments for visitors. It's a learning experience for everyone. See the new extensive cleaning procedures adopted by Vistana (including Marriott and Westin resorts), for example. Most other resort chains are implementing similar procedures.

For travelers — and timeshare owners with locked-in-cement reservations or rentals that are wavering as deadlines approach — coping with COVID is extremely personal. While just about everyone wants to get outside and socialize, the risks of travel are still present as the virus spikes in key vacation states. Here are some updates on favorite destinations:

Florida and Disney World Plowing Forward

Last Saturday, July 11, Walt Disney World reopened with numerous restrictions, including temperature checks, limits on capacity, and mandatory masks for every person over two years old. Following a four-month shutdown, admission to the Magic and Animal Kingdoms was initially limited to annual passholders and those who had tickets before the shut-down. They opened that up before the parks officially re-opened. While busy, the park appeared to be half-empty as Disney officials enforced social distancing. Coincidentally, on that same day, Florida reported a record high count of new COVID-19 cases — 10,360 infections — after adding 67,000 cases in the prior week.

"This is the new world that we're operating in and we feel like we've got a way to operate in that new world," Disney Chairman Josh D'Amaro told Bloomberg. Disney's other Orlando parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, are set to reopen July 15.

The entire travel-and-tourism industry is banking on Disney having a successful reopening. Parents, too. If theme parks can find a way operate safely, maybe schools can, too.

California and Lake Tahoe

Meanwhile, more than 2,325 miles west, in Lake Tahoe, California, brand-name and legacy timeshare resorts processed check-ins and reservations with masks and plexiglass dividers as part of a comprehensive program to protect visitors from infection. Sanitizers are ubiquitous.

One snapshot: at Tahoe Beach and Ski Club, the beach is open on July 11, but the spa and recreation rooms are closed, probably for the entire summer. Timeshare families carried on, making the best of their opportunities to enjoy the sun and surf, but the overall atmosphere seemed serious on an otherwise carefree Saturday. Tahoe is also showing a spike of new COVID cases. California Governor Newsom just announced July 13 the closure of indoor bars and restaurants, movie theaters, and museums, state-wide. Masks are also mandatory.

"People are coming back. It's Tahoe," said Jake Bercu, treasurer of the TBSC homeowners association. "But we're already seeing some changes, particularly with our family reunions. A lot of grandparents are staying home." Most resort operators expect vacationers to return in droves this summer, but they are painfully aware that the Summer of 2020 (normally their peak season) could be curtailed, at any time, by complications from COVID.

Aruba Is Open, but Many New Requirements

Determined not to become a forgotten spot in the Caribbean, our top destination is now open for visitors after nearly four months locked off from the rest of the world. Before you book your trip, this destination, more than any, requires that you read up on the recent requirements to know what you're getting into. The island has different requirements in place depending on what state you are coming from - travelers coming from about half of the states (among them Florida, the Carolinas, California, and more) will be required to take a PCR test (a nasal swab test that looks for the antigen) within 72 hours of departing for Aruba, and upload it to an online system 12 hours in advance of their flights, or they will be denied entry. Visitors from states not listed will be able to take the test when they arrive in Aruba. However, if anyone in the party fails the test, they can expect to head to a designated quarantine facility, rather than pre-booked accommodations. ALL visitors will also need to buy an insurance policy with COVID-19 coverages at the cost of $15 - $21 per day per visitor over the age of 15 - with travelers over the age of 76 paying on the higher end. Kids under 15 are covered with a small admin fee (~ $10) Full details of the current requirements can be found at Aruba.com.

Hawaii Offers a Work-Around for the Quarantine

Starting September 1 (updated following announcement July 13), Hawaii plans to finally ease their quarantine restrictions... as long as you can prove you don't have COVID-19. Like Aruba, visitors to Hawaii will need to take a test within 72 hours of their flight. If you don't bring proof of a negative result with you to the airport, you will be subjected to the 14-day quarantine on the islands (which means you can't leave your room).

Las Vegas Reversing Parts of Its Reopening

Nevada is one of several states rolling back some of its reopening. Masks were mandated at the end of June, and the bars that had recently reopened are now shut down again - as most health experts agree that congregating in bars is an especially high-risk activity. Casinos require masks... unless you're eating or drinking, apparently, which is quite common for casino-patrons.

Things to Do in Preparation for Travel

Before you travel, here are some things you should do to make sure you're prepared.

  • Call your resort directly to get the latest information on any restrictions and check-in procedures.
  • Check the website for your resort to get updates on all COVID-related issues.
  • Be aware that state-by-state rules are changing, rapidly, to stem the spread of the virus. Check the COVID updates for your state and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which publishes national guidelines.
  • The operating rules for airlines and rental cars are also changing, which could result in longer waiting times at airports and car counters. Rather than fly, many travelers should consider driving to their resort if possible.
  • Stock up on masks since they will probably be required at most, if not all, timeshare resorts.
  • If you are traveling to a place that requires a test, contact facilities in your area to find out what type of testing they offer, and what the turn-around time is, to make sure it's feasible.
  • Review RedWeek's latest update on COVID issues in prime resort areas.
  • Renters who decide not to travel should get in touch with the owner they rented from to see about any flexibility on reschedules or refunds.
  • Timeshare owners who decide not to travel should ask their resort for a new reservation, this fall or later, so you can use your ownership when it may be safer to travel. Or consider depositing with an exchange company to preserve usage rights through 2021 or later.

Have you traveled during the pandemic? What was the situation at your resort, and what advice can you share with other travelers? Leave your comments below.

7 Comments

  • Avatar for sharonl82
    sharonl82
    Jul 17, 2020 (2 months ago)

    Holiday Inn Club backed out of a refinancing agreement they made in March 2020. They are charging fees from March through the present and want full payment. Do I have legal grounds to sue?

  • Avatar for juditho49
    juditho49
    Jul 17, 2020 (2 months ago)

    First time considering renting out our timeshare this fall. What about property damage/liability? do I need to take out insurance to cover the renters?

  • Avatar for phyl21
    phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Jul 17, 2020 (2 months ago) • Updated Jul 17, 2020 05:17 PM

    You should have a rental agreement in place that addresses damages to the unit. If using RedWeek Online Booking, the rental agreement states:

    "Renter agrees to maintain the Unit in the same condition as it was at the start of the Agreement term. Renter will pay for all repairs, replacement, and damages resulting from the act of neglect of Renter and guests. If requested at time of check-in, Renter will provide a credit card to the resort to secure payment for any such deposit, repairs, replacements, or damages."

    Most resorts also require the renter to provide a credit card at check-in to cover any damages, but you should check with your resort to verify what their policy is.

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  • Avatar for robt150
    robt150
    Jul 28, 2020 (1 month ago)

    Could you please confirm the currency used on the prices. I am a Canadian, have prices been converted from USD to CAD? Is there an option for users to manage their profile and set currency settings?

  • Avatar for phyl21
    phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Jul 28, 2020 (1 month ago)

    All prices on the RedWeek website are in U.S. dollars. Currently we do not have an option to change currency settings.

  • Avatar for joannep78
    joannep78
    Aug 15, 2020 (1 month ago)

    Will the Redweek Travel Insurance cover the cost of renting a week if Aruba prohibits travel from the United States?

  • Avatar for phyl21
    phyl21
    RedWeek Team
    Aug 15, 2020 (1 month ago)

    Joanne: The travel insurance on our website is offered through CSA. You can review the policy Description of Coverage here: CSA Travel Insurance

    If you have any policy-specific questions, please contact CSA toll free at 1-866-999-4018.