Community Drivers: Healthcare workers laud Sandals vacation incentive

Jamaican healthcare workers have given a ringing endorsement to the initiative of Sandals Resorts Executive Chairman, Adam Stewart, to extend complimentary vacations to 300 of their members across the Caribbean as recognition of their sterling efforts in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Nuff Respect”, “Grateful” and “Truly appreciative” were some of the words used by the healthcare professionals who have already taken up their Sandals vacations, in expressing their appreciation to the luxury-included resort chain.

Ambulance operator Oliver Fraser, a 27-year veteran of the Jamaican healthcare system, who is stationed at the Percy Junior Hospital, recently got a chance to relax and unwind at Sandals South Coast, and was effusive in his praise for the gesture.

Fraser has been responsible for the safe passage of infirmed persons to the emergency room, a job he does not take lightly. After experiencing the trauma that came with transporting COVID-19 patients to the hospital over the past two years of the pandemic, he was grateful for the opportunity to step away from it all to exhale at Sandals South Coast.

“This is a really good gesture and one that is appreciated because the intensity of my job, especially when the pandemic hit and I had to transport more COVID-19 patients than I can count, had left me exhausted. So this has given me the opportunity to remove myself from the space, exhale and not think about it,” said Fraser thoughtfully.

Oliver Fraser chilling at Sandals South Coast resort.

The ambulance operator described his trip as amazing, citing that “the staff was quite helpful and the property beautiful and well-maintained. I appreciate the gesture that Sandals has extended to health workers. I enjoyed my time and I’m sure the others did too. I’m grateful to the management team for thinking of us and showing appreciation in this way. Nuff respect!”

Johnell Whyte, a radiographer at the Savanna-la-mar Public General Hospital, who stayed at Beaches Negril recently, said: “I had the opportunity to vacation with my mom who needed a well-deserved break, along with my three-year- old son. My stay at Beaches Negril was amazing; we had tried to partake in as many of the amenities that the resort offered, from the frozen yogurt at YoYo’s to the Pirate Island Water Park. I thoroughly enjoyed the lazy river as this gave me the time to relax and to clear my headspace. The Kimonos restaurant for my family was a big deal, it was very interactive and even my son had a chance to engage in some of the activities during dinner.

“In the healthcare system, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, it has been really stressful, and so this opportunity to relax and unwind was well needed and I got a chance to do just that for three days. Thanks to the Beaches Negril Resort, it was great being here and I look forward to coming back for my honeymoon in August,” stated Whyte.

Samantha Gavin, a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Annotto Bay Hospital, said the holiday “was by far one of my favorite appreciation gifts as a registered nurse to date. It’s truly great to feel appreciated and all the staff I interacted with gave superb service, ensuring I felt appreciated for my service. A big thank you to Mr Adam Stewart and the entire Sandals team.”

Samantha Gavin and Tarik Murray letting down their hair at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort.

Nurse Kimone Bartley of the St Ann’s Bay Hospital was over the moon during her sojourn at Sandals Royal Caribbean, describing the gesture as “a tremendous initiative”. She lauded the resort team members for the outstanding service that was meted out to her, describing them as “courteous, gracious and professional”.

The healthcare professional said her vacation was a much-needed one as the stress that was brought about by the constant exposure to COVID-19 patients was indeed a heavy burden. One aspect of her stay which gave her extra satisfaction was the vegetarian culinary fare at the resort.

“I was blown away by the many vegetarian options,” Bartley said with a smile. “At first I was worried because I am a vegetarian and wasn’t sure if I would have meal choices, but my fears were quickly allayed.”

Kimone Bartley from St Ann’s Bay Hospital shares a light moment with Dawn Smith, General Manager of Sandals Royal Caribbean, during Bartley’s recent vacation at the property.

She said she wanted to especially thank the resort’s General Manager, Dawn Smith, who personally ensured that her stay was a luxury-included one by the special courtesies she extended.

Also singing Sandals’ praise was nurse Claudia Jackson from Princess Margaret Hospital in St Thomas, who vacationed at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort. It was her first trip to a Sandals property “and it was excellent, the staff was wonderful and ensured we were happy. The food was great, the ambiance and everything was just perfect. There was so much to do, but so little time to get it all done. I would definitely recommend Sandals Ochi Beach to anyone. I would like to thank everyone who made this possible, especially to Sandals boss, Mr Adam Stewart, for initiating this incentive and for allowing us to be here.”

Jackson expressed the view that the Sandals incentive was “a good gesture and we appreciate it wholeheartedly. While we had our jobs and were working tirelessly during the pandemic with our fair share of challenges, and pushed to save lives each day and to make all patients as comfortable as possible, we were being watched and now… magnificently rewarded. Hats off to you Mr Stewart, and I know my other colleagues who have received a similar opportunity will be grateful too.”

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