armchair traveler diaries Armchair Traveler Diaries: Tiago Moraes Sarmento’s Dispatch from Anguilla

Armchair Traveler Diaries: Tiago Moraes Sarmento’s Dispatch from Anguilla

The general manager of Anguilla’s Belmond Cap Juluca is soaking up spare time with his family and making big plans for his resort’s reopening.

What is life like for you right now?
I’m fortunate to call the beautiful island of Anguilla home. The island has a close-knit community – one that has stood by each other through many challenging times, and the current pandemic is no exception. We’re grateful that, for more than a month now, no suspected cases have been reported and no evidence of transmission of the Covid-19 virus has been found in Anguilla. Our government has removed the regulations restricting movement and gatherings for residents. I’ve been working with my team on crafting new experiences, and we’re looking forward to welcoming guests back to Belmond Cap Juluca when the time comes. 

Where are you working these days?
I work from my office at Belmond Cap Juluca while adhering to social distancing regulations, of course. I’ve been at the property every day to make sure I can support our essential staff.

What’s your typical day like now?
Actually, it’s very similar to our annual closure period. My morning routine starts with serving breakfast to my two kids, ages three and five, and then heading to a daily early workout. I’m in the office by 9:00 a.m., and then the day goes by quickly. My main priority is to make the most of this opportunity to explore how we can continue to take Cap Juluca to new heights. I’m working on all necessary tweaks for when we re-open. I’m also preparing to implement comprehensive new health and hygiene protocols, as well as focusing on developing new guest experiences, redefining service processes, and redesigning our menus.

What do you do to stay sane?
During the week, I work with my team at Cap Juluca, and on the weekends, I spend time with the family, which is a luxury that a resort hotelier normally doesn’t have!

What are you watching, reading, listening to?
Most of my screen time has been dedicated to online training on hotel asset management. I only watch TV during my cardio sessions and have found Narcos and El Chapo, about drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, equal parts fascinating and harrowing. The book on my bedside table is Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. There’s one album I’ve played over and over for years to keep me focused and feeling the energy: the soundtrack to The Mission, the 1986 British film starring Robert De Niro.

What travel plans have you put on hold for the pandemic?
I had planned a family trip to visit the Belmond properties in Italy: Hotel Caruso, Hotel Cipriani, Villa San Michele, and Hotel Splendido right after Easter.

Where do you want to go when travel is possible again?
I want to visit Portugal, where my family resides, and Mexico, where my wife’s family is. We’ve accumulated several weeks of vacation and plan on really enjoying some quality time together.  

Beach goals: Maunday’s Bay on Anguilla. 
Beach goals: Maunday’s Bay on Anguilla. 
Photo by Belmond Cap Juluca 
The part of your hotel you most like to show travelers.
Julucans (my team) are what make Cap Juluca different, better, and special. And then, of course, there’s Maunday’s Bay – the front yard of our property! It’s been named the best beach in the world year after year, and it really is.
 
A favorite travel memory that’s top of mind right now?
Around this time last year, my wife and I visited South Africa. We stayed at Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town and also explored the nearby wine country. I will never forget that trip! It was absolutely remarkable to experience South Africa’s rich history, spend time with its earnest people, and just take in the general positive energy everywhere.

Your best feel-good moment since all this started?
My feel-good moments have come from spending weekends with my children. As a hotelier, the luxury of leisure time is occasional, and this past month has been extraordinary in that sense. On the island, we’ve had the flexibility of space during these times, and it’s been a special experience to enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world with my dear ones. I feel very fortunate for that, and it certainly makes me smile, even during these tough times.

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