"Necessity is the mother of invention, to quote a familiar phrase," said Laurie Palumbo, COO of the ID Travel Group, the luxury tour operator and parent company of Island Destinations, ID and ID Ultimate Itineraries.
The company has programs all over the world, but due to Covid-19 -- and the subsequent cancellation of traditional summer camp programs for kids -- it began to hear demand from clients for family summer vacation options "in safe settings that would guarantee social distancing, high standards of hygiene and cleaning and lots of activities for kids," she said.
The result was the launch of the Private Luxury Camp Experiences, a customized, curated program of activities that features a private camp counselor for kids and accommodations in a villa or resort with all-inclusive services, including a home office for parents working remotely.
Locations include two in the Caribbean: Casa de Campo in La Romana, Dominican Republic and Beach Enclave in Turks and Caicos.
"These have generated a lot of buzz, and we'll be adding several more properties in the Caribbean, because we have lots of inquiries and have taken several bookings already, primarily from the U.S.," Palumbo said.
The July and August camp experience is pricey, to be sure. A one-week stay in one of the 50 villas at Casa de Campo or the 14 at Beach Enclave starts at $43,00 for a family with three kids in tow.
This covers all meals (not alcohol) delivered by room service, customized activities tailored to appropriate age groups and the services of a counselor dedicated to the kids.
"The program runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and the kids are kept busy. We can add evening activities if parents want a night out," she said. The services of a private chef can be arranged, as well.
Naturally, the program depends on the destinations reopening to travelers. Airports in the Dominican Republic are expected to reopen on July 1, according to the Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation. Airlines serving the Turks and Caicos have confirmed that flight service will resume from the U.S., Canada and Europe "as soon as the destination is ready," according to Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson. Private jet terminals will open on July 22, as well, in conjunction with the reopening of Providenciales Airport.
Many clients will arrive by private jet so that social distancing can be maintained during the flight, according to Palumbo.
If Casa de Campo clients opt to stay in the resort's guestrooms instead of a private villa, they can rent out the whole floor if they want to ensure less contact with other guests, she said.
The camp program pays commissions between 12% and 14%, and Palumbo recommended its new ID Select Plan insurance program that offers refunds to clients and protected commissions for travel advisors.