Like most of the world, the Cayman Islands tourism industry has come to a halt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hotel sector of that industry has been hard hit in terms of the number of employees who no longer have work as a result of local and international airport closures.
Dart, as the hotel owner, funded a voluntary package that included flights for those who were able to leave the island. However, several hundred Ritz-Carlton employees remained and were subsequently subjected to stay-at-home orders.
General Manager Marc Langevin thought of a way to support his “Ladies and Gentlemen” —how the Ritz-Carlton refers to its employees all over the globe — through the stressful period: a daily pick-up meal service available for all employees on Grand Cayman who wanted to sign up for them.
“The meal pick-up service has been a wonderful way to continue to support our Ladies and Gentlemen during these uncertain times and provide some relief to food costs at home, as well as providing healthy options for them to enjoy,” says Langevin.
Every Friday, the culinary team shares a menu created for the following week with all staff members, and provides a link to sign-up for the meal pick-ups. The creative and diverse menu is a collaboration between the hotel’s banquet chefs and its restaurant chefs.
The 300 employees who have signed up for the meals drive to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s porte-cochère near the main entrance, where they first present their employee identification and meal cards at one station. At the second station, employees choose one of two menu options available for the day. And finally, at the third station, there’s a happy little ceremony, delivered with the friendliness, precision and attention to detail that would be expected from a hotel brand that is world-famous for its high service level.
One of the resort’s senior leaders — which include Langevin, Hotel Manager Hermes Cuello and many others — deliver hot boxes to employees. They also provide a special treat for the day, which could be anything from a pastry dessert, fresh fruit, a gallon of milk or even flowers.
There’s music playing throughout the process and the delivery team smiles and dances as they provide employees with their meals.
“At the core of our Ritz-Carlton values, is providing genuine care for all,” Langevin says. “This is a great way to carry out our company’s motto: ‘We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen’.”
The employees very much appreciate the support and often express their gratitude for the meals, Langevin says, adding that the meal deliveries are gratifying for the management as well.
“We love seeing everyone at the drive-through every day and having that brief connection, even if it is at a distance and for a quick moment,” he says. “We have been able to stay connected as The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman family that we are.”
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman employees aren’t the only people who get to experience the meal delivery ceremony. As part of the resort’s “Community Footprints” programme, The Ritz-Carlton kitchen also provides 20 to 30 meals for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, which are picked up at the same place near the main entrance to the hotel. In addition, The Ritz-Carlton continues to support Meals on Wheels of the Cayman Islands — which is also part of its annual Community Footprints programme — by providing 120 meals per month.
“One of the things we’ve been reminded of during this crisis is how important it is to support our community and to be more united than ever as a society,” says Langevin. He’s happy The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman can continue to support its Community Footprints charities at a time when that support is most needed.
Langevin said he has “been in awe” of the solidarity he’s seen in the Cayman community since the COVID-19 crisis began.
“We are grateful that we are able to contribute to that,” he says. “We will continue to do so for as long as we can.”
Article photo: In the kitchen at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, where they prepare daily meals for more than 300 employees, are, from left, Chefs Mario Uxa and Thomas Seifried of Blue by Eric Ripert; Chef Marcello Piacentini of Banquets; and Chef Kunal Sharma of Andiamo.