- Neal Van Beers has been working remotely at the Anantara Veli Resort, the Maldives, since December.
- Van Beers and partner Charmaine Sanchez spent $30,000 on a long-term stay at the resort.
- The “Unlimited Stays in Paradise” package lets guests stay at the luxury resort for up to a year.
Many people dream of relocating to a tropical island, but few make it happen.
Canadian restaurateur Neal Van Beers and his partner, Charmaine Sanchez, made their dream a reality – that is, by spending $30,000 to stay at a luxury resort in the Maldives for up to a year.
The couple swapped snowy British Columbia for the Maldives in December by purchasing the Anantara Veli resort’s “Unlimited Stays in Paradise” package. The $30,000 package allows two people to stay “as often as you please” in one of the resort’s luxury overwater bungalows until December 23, 2021. It includes daily breakfast, transportation, and discounts on dining and the spa.
The couple intended to visit the Maldives in the summer of 2020 but changed their plans
Van Beers, who owns a Dairy Queen franchise in Golden, British Columbia, and Sanchez originally wanted to get away for the summer but cancelled their plans when the Canadian government advised its residents against nonessential travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As of January 6, 2021, travellers returning to Canada must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before flying and must still quarantine for 14 days.
When the first snow began to settle in British Vancouver, Van Beers knew he still wanted to getaway. Then, he came across the unlimited package at the Anantara Veli resort after reading about it online.
“I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he told Insider, adding that he had visited the resort on his past travels. This became the deciding factor for going ahead and booking the vacation.
Van Beers said he and Sanchez took a PCR test, where both tested negative, before flying as required by government guidance. They travelled in Qatar Airways’ “Q Suite,” which he said made him personally feel comfortable due to the personal space offered. It’s worth noting, however, that travel comes with an inherent risk and that many countries including the US do not recommend nonessential travel during this time. The suites are private business class cabins, giving passengers privacy and space, and passengers are required to wear face masks throughout their journey.
When they arrived in the Maldives in December, Van Beers said their luggage was disinfected several times during their airport transfer and check-in and that the staff members they encountered wore masks.
The resort’s website has a message to guests outlining its safety protocol and says it has “taken extra measures to reflect the advice and guidance of the World Health Organization, Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the local authority” in the Maldives. This includes table spacing at its bars and restaurants, increased cleaning of all public spaces, and temperature screening stations.
The resort also offers guests an app to request in-room services, make payments, and reserve tables at its bars and restaurants. All staff members are required to wear masks, whereas guests don’t have to.
In order to travel to the Maldives, international visitors must provide a confirmed hotel reservation, submit a health self-declaration form within 24 hours before flying to the Maldives, and a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate in English conducted at a maximum of 96 hours before flying.
According to the resort’s guidelines, travel from other resorts, local islands, guest houses, or safari boats to Anantara Veli is not permitted.
Van Beers said that, in his experience, the resort’s safety measures have made him feel safe as a guest.
“Everything is outdoors here,” he said, speaking of the activities offered at the resort, such as coral garden snorkelling and cooking classes. Activities offered are mainly outdoors and exclusive to couples, which he said has made social distancing easier to maintain.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the Maldives has had a total of 18,930 cases at the time of writing.
Van Beers has been using the time to work remotely
Van Beers has been able to work remotely from the Maldives, though he says the only downside is that Canada is 12 hours behind.
Van Beers starts his day with a coffee, then he settles into his workspace: a desk next to an ocean-view window. He then checks emails and does some admin before heading to breakfast.
The couple spends the rest of the day exploring the island and taking part in outdoor activities, including snorkelling, scuba diving, and swimming. They also pass the time by reading and taking cooking classes. By dinner time, Canada has woken up, so Van Beers would reply to more emails or take a meeting.
A number of tourism-dependent countries are catering to digital nomads
The Maldives is among many countries that offer various remote-working schemes. Travellers can enter the country on a 30-day visa, which can be extended to 90 days, which Van Beers and his partner have done.
The Global Citizen Concierge Program launched by the Cayman Islands allows travellers to work remotely there for up to 24 months. Other countries, including Barbados and Aruba, have also started their own initiatives that allow remote working.
Van Beers said that although he’s been having a great time, he has missed some of the comforts of working in an office. He said the resort has provided printing services and a stable WiFi connection, though.
Van Beers was planning on returning to Canada in March – and quarantined for 14 days upon his arrival – before going back to the Maldives after the summer. However, the couple has decided to stay at the resort for now and will return to Canada once it’s safer to do so.
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