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Starting on Jan. 26, 2021, all air passengers arriving in the U.S. must present negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test results. To make that process easier, a number of hoteliers around the Caribbean have begun arranging tests for guests either on-site or at nearby medical facilities.
The testing requirement adds a variety of new considerations to the planning process for a Caribbean vacation, such as cost (which can vary widely), testing location and response time. To help travelers and advisors navigate this process, several hotel chains and individual properties are providing COVID-19 testing for free — including AMResorts, Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Sandals Resorts International, Playa Hotels & Resorts, Palladium Hotel Group, Beach Enclave in Turks & Caicos and Eden Roc Cap Cana, to name a few. (Each program has its own specific details; the following are just a few examples.)
Editor's Note: Due to the changing nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, readers are encouraged to contact properties listed here to verify prices and policies prior to booking.
Guests at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia are tested for free with a minimum five-night stay, while two other St. Lucia resorts — Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet — are offering free antigen tests for stays through Sept. 30, with a minimum three-night stay required at Anse Chastanet and no minimum stay necessary at Jade Mountain.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, meanwhile, has launched an offer that includes free antigen tests for up to two guests staying four nights or more, for bookings made through March 31 for travel through April 4. Guests who don’t buy the package pay $50, per person, for the antigen test.
At Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla, a PCR test will be administered prior to departure, coordinated with the assistance of the hotel’s Host Desk. The cost of the on-site test is included in the original Anguilla entry fee (which varies by group size and length of stay); guests simply need to give 72-hour advance notice.
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Palladium Hotel Group, which has properties in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, is providing free antigen tests until April 4, but charges $140 for PCR tests at its on-site doctors’ offices in the Dominican Republic and $232 for the same service in Jamaica. Sandals and Beaches Resorts are offering free on-site testing for guests through March 31, with results available within 24 hours.
And at Baha Mar in the Bahamas, the Grand Hyatt (the first of Baha Mar's three hotels to resume operations) is offering complimentary on-site rapid antigen tests. PCR tests are also available, at an additional cost.
Varying PricesTravelers may want to do price comparisons for COVID-19 tests when considering a destination or hotel in the Caribbean.
At the Bahamas' Atlantis Paradise Island, on-property rapid antigen tests for guests staying at least four nights are covered by the cost of the Bahamas’ Travel Health Visa (which is required for entry and starts at $40 per person, varying by length of stay). For travelers staying less than four nights, antigen tests cost $40. PCR tests at the resort are $175.
Rapid antigen tests also cost $50 at Serenade Punta Cana Beach & Spa Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
The cost runs higher in some hotels and destinations. In Antigua, Curtain Bluff offers in-room PCR and antigen testing; both cost $250, and rapid test results are available within 30 minutes, while PCR test results arrive between 48 and 72 hours after testing.
In Aruba, guests pay $126 for in-room testing at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, with results delivered within 24 hours. Jamaica’s Round Hill Hotel and Villas charges $100 per antigen test plus a $100 consultation fee that covers a group of up to four people. PCR tests cost about $150.
It’s not surprising that some of the priciest test offerings can be found at the most upscale resort brands. In-room testing at the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico, for instance, costs $400 for the initial test (then $150 for each additional test), according to a public relations representative for the hotel, with results delivered within 24-48 hours.
What If a Traveler Tests Positive? Clients should also consider what happens if a test comes back positive for COVID-19, which would require the person to stay in their destination. And in fact, there are even a few hotels making the scenario easier (and less expensive) for their guests.
At Palladium Hotel Group properties, for example, the cost of an extended quarantine stay is covered for up to 10 days for the guest who tests positive (who will be isolated in separate accommodations), as well as up to three travel companions sharing the same room, as part of Palladium’s free Stay Safe Plus health insurance.
AMResorts, meanwhile, provides free extended-stay coverage for up to 14 days, through March 31, for the COVID-19-positive guest and one travel companion sharing the same room. Karisma Hotels & Resorts also provides free quarantine accommodations for up to 14 nights, for guests traveling through March 31.