Inside the Reopening of Exotic Resorts in Remote Locales

As countries open up to Americans for traveling, the idea of international adventures is polarizing. For some the thought of walking through an airport is still terrifying. For others, it remains a horror to be stuck at home. Whether you’re ready to get out there now or planning for the future, here is an inside look from the people in charge of reopening some of the most glamorous and enticing properties around the globe.

Kai Behrens, General Manager, Kempinski Hotel Adriatic Istria Croatia
Savudrija, Croatia

Resort reopening date: June 11, 2020

Post-COVID operations: Everything is open in the hotel now, but of course with limitations and additional safety and comfort measures in place, such as a limited number of people in the gym at any one time. Together with all Kempinski Hotels, we have implemented Kempinski White Glove Service, a set of brand standards to implement extreme hygiene and safety measures, while maintaining the high level of guest comfort and impeccable five-star luxury service for which we are known. To maximize the comfort of our guests and ensure their safety, we are currently selling only 70% of the total rooms, as we are of the opinion that guest well-being and comfort is a priority—not only during the current situation, but at all times.

Getting there: Croatia has created an application called Enter Croatia, which allows all tourists to speed up the process of entrance into the country. A pre-arrival letter is sent to all guests, informing them of the procedures and current regulations, along with a link to the Enter Croatia application and assistance for guests in regard to arrival routes.

Current property highlights: We are located right on the Adriatic Sea (including our own private beach)! We also have a secluded location in the middle of olive groves and vineyards, amid untouched nature, along with local culinary experiences (wine, olive oil, truffles, and seafood).

Post-COVID guest feedback: It has been truly heart-warming to hear from certain regular guests remarks such as, “We missed your hotel” and “We couldn’t wait for you to open again and to travel here” or “Finally, we are back at our second home.” We have just closed for the winter season, but guests are already booking for early March when we reopen.

From $130.

Sonu Shivdasani, Founder and CEO, Soneva Fushi

Kunfunadhoo Island, Maldives

Resort reopening date: July 15, 2020

Post-COVID operations: On arrival, all guests will be greeted by one of our airport hosts and escorted to our lounge where they will be asked to undergo a COVID-19 test using our PCR machine. Our airport hosts, lounge hosts, and transfer hosts will all be wearing masks, and we would request that all guests wear a mask whenever in the presence of other guests and hosts until their test results are received. 

Once the test has been completed and results sent for processing, guests will be transferred to Soneva Fushi. On landing, guests will be greeted at the private plane and taken to our private island. Guests will then be escorted to their villa and we request that they remain there until the test results are received and are negative. We do not expect it to take more than 24 hours. Once we receive the results of the test, and if they are negative, our hosts will come to the guests’ villa to extend a warm welcome.

In case the test result comes back positive, we ask that all guests isolate in their villa. Our nurses have been trained on how to look after COVID-19-positive guests and observe them.

We will also require all guests have their temperature taken daily. During the first week of stay, we also ask guests to take one more real-time PCR test. We have purchased one of the best real-time PCR test machines—the LightCycler 96 from Roche—and the samples will be sent to Malé for testing at the ADK Hospital. 

Getting there: We also funded a special testing lab at the airport in Maafaru for the convenience of our guests. We believe that we might be overcautious in our measurements stated above, however we aim to create a COVID-19-free environment.

Current property highlights: At our resorts, we insist that one does not have to destroy the planet or their body to indulge in luxury. When guests arrive, we take their shoes and put them in a bag. Having no shoes and no news is very healthy and grounding. A lot of our competitors apply a dress code, whereas at Soneva, you don’t have to wear shoes or trousers anywhere, which allows our guests to feel at home without the worries and obligations of their everyday lives.

When it’s not raining, all of our guests dine outside. One restaurant is actually in the trees, with a cable car for guests and a zip wire for our waiters to serve guests. Also, we do not serve imported water. Instead, our water menu offers six kinds of purified water, each with a different healing crystal in it.

Post-COVID guest feedback: Our guests have really appreciated the care we have taken to protect their health (and the health of their families and fellow guests) and they are thrilled to be able to enjoy our COVID-19-free island paradises.

From $1,310.

Silvio Bion, General Manager, The Brando

French Polynesia

Resort reopening date: July 15, 2020 

Post-COVID operations: The only major things that have changed post-COVID are that the Nami teppanyaki restaurant as well as Les Mutinés gourmet restaurant have a lesser capacity in order to adhere to social-distancing measures. And because of the very low occupancy in this reopening period, these two restaurants are never open on the same day. 

Getting there: We still have Air Tetiaroa flying as usual between Tahiti and Tetiaroa private island on a daily basis. The flights are operating only if we have guests to transport to and from Tetiaroa of course.

Current property highlights: More than ever before, we offer privacy and space—at the villa, inside and outside, in the property, on the island, the lagoon, and the other islets—the sense of total freedom, the beauty of the place (the resort, the islands of Tetiaroa, nature), well-preserved nature and sustainability, service, staff dedication, and attention to details.

Post-COVID guest feedback: A couple that have traveled around the world and stayed in great hotels said that it was the first time that they were thinking of returning to a place in the future before they had even left. Our other most regular comments have been: This is the place to escape from home and from everything bad in the world right now; people here are so nice and kind, and always dedicated to their guests, providing an unforgettable experience and making you feel that you are part of their family; a paradise where we want to come back for sure with family or friends to share this special place with them.

From $3,865/night for two in a one-bedroom villa, all inclusive.

Markus Schale, General Manager, Hotel Wailea


Resort reopening date: October 15, 2020

Post-COVID operations: We are located on 15 acres and have just 72 suites, all with oversized lanais that feel like your very own private beach home. While we have been waiting for guests to return, we have gone through every inch of the property to ensure all of our amenities, dining, and experiences have safety and well-being in mind, and are naturally distant. Our suites have their own, self-contained HVAC systems and are accessed through individual outdoor entrances. The way Hotel Wailea is naturally laid out allows guests to interact with our staff and other guests as much, or as little, as they are comfortable with. All of our dining options are also available alfresco—whether dining privately on your lanai, in the garden at The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea, the oversized cabanas at the pool, or in our brand-new Birdcage, an airy lobby lounge experience. Should a guest’s plans change, we also offer booking flexibility through the end of the year.

Getting there: In addition to participating in Hawaii’s Pre-Travel Testing Program for out-of-state visitors, our entire team at Hotel Wailea will be wearing face masks and adhering to enhanced hygiene and cleaning measures throughout the property. 

Current property highlights: The island of Maui has never been more pristine or beautiful—Mother Nature has truly flourished over the last six months and guests will have the opportunity to explore beaches and coral reefs that are teeming with beautiful fish and turtles. To reinforce our commitment to sustainability, we’ve even created our own line of reef-safe sunscreen that is made locally and will be available this winter. We’ve also curated three new private, outrigger-canoeing adventures. All of our experiences are created with the intent to honor the land and sea and preserve this gift we’ve been given back by Mother Nature.

One of our best kept secrets at Hotel Wailea is an incredible Treehouse dining experience, this dinner takes place in our private, open-air Treehouse with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. A private chef will curate and cook a seven-course tasting menu tableside with wine pairings, while every need is attended to by a dedicated server

Post-COVID guest feedback: We are seeing quite a lot of 7–12-day stays on the books. In addition to our usual West Coast visitors, we are noticing visitors arriving from North Carolina, Connecticut, Maine, Georgia, and Illinois.

From $699.