Hilton Head Island’s “new normal” summer


By Justin Fish

Americans aren’t ready to give up their summer vacations, so resort towns across the USA are ramping up with increased precautions to make vacationers feel safe, relaxed, and re-energized.  Many timeshare resorts on South Carolina’s popular Hilton Head Island have been doing their part to reopen, while ensuring that vacationers are comfortable in light of the latest COVID-19 precautions.

As many local attractions and beaches reopen, resorts on the island are open for business and eager to welcome back guests.  While resorts are extremely happy to have guests return, they are pivoting to face new challenges.   We spoke with a couple of RCI-affiliated resort groups on the island for a first-hand look at some challenges they have faced and what they are doing to provide increased safety measures.

Staffing concerns

Many resorts on the island faced a rapid increase in occupancy of nearly 50 percent in early May, followed by being sold out for Memorial Day weekend.  One of the biggest hurdles faced by Palmera Resorts, an RCI Gold Crown resort, was bringing its staff level back to normal almost overnight.

Local restrictions allowed resorts to reopen, leading to occupancy rates higher than expected, so resort-management personnel had to execute plans quickly to staff adequately for reopening.

The team at Palmera Resorts brought back the staff in phases, with increased safety precautions in place to provide the best vacation experience for guests. With proper planning, the team brought its staffing level back to over 90 percent. Full staffing is expected by late June.  Staff members were eager and happy to return to work and provide their wonderful southern hospitality.

Hygiene and safety

Resorts also placed a major focus on increased hygiene and safety precautions.  RMC Resort Management, a long-standing partner with RCI, has worked to ensure that guests feel safe when arriving at the resorts the firm manages on the island.  RMC has added increased safety measures in all aspects of its operations, including offering all guests contactless check-in upon arrival, allowing them to check in and obtain villa keys without entering the office or interacting with resort staff.  If needed, staff members are still available by appointment.

RMC also has enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures, including the use of electrostatic sanitization machines, UV sanitizing wands that scan all documents and keys before they are given to the guests, and temperature checks daily for all employees.

Katie Kabala, RMC Resort Management’s general manager, noted that the key to RMC’s success is guest communication.  Katie and her team provide ongoing COVID-19 updates through email to all incoming and onsite guests.

Summer on Hilton Head Island may look and feel a little different this year, but resorts are doing an exceptional job at providing a safe, fun, and memorable vacation experience for RCI guests.

Justin Fish is an Account Executive in RCI’s NA Business Development.