Our wish at Carolina Tailwinds is that this is finding all of you staying safe and healthy, and finding time to be out on your bike as spring begins to arrive in your home region! Everyone across the United States, and the globe, has been thrown such a curve ball by COVID 19, but it has been especially gratifying to us to see folks coming together and helping each other.
Carolina Tailwinds is hoping to take that same approach with all our guests either enrolled or contemplating enrollment in 2020 and beyond. We are committed to running trips when conditions and authorities allow, and we have been monitoring this fluid situation daily as our guests' and guides' safety is paramount.
Given the above, and to help our guests make the best decisions for them, we would like to share the following updates on our cancellation policies with you:
Increased Flexibility, and a Gold Standard Cancellation Policy: As Carolina Tailwinds always has, if we are forced to cancel your tour, our guests have the option of choosing between an immediate full refund or a full credit toward any future tour in the amount of fees paid. If you opt for a full credit, you may apply your credit to any 2021 tour or beyond at the 2020 tour price for your destination selected.
Commitment to Guest and Staff Safety: While tours through September 20, 2020 are cancelled, we did so with heavy hearts and out of an abundance of caution during the US re-opening phase. We honestly felt that our commitment to guests and staff safety could be compromised while conditions locally and nationally keep changing daily. It is our intention to run all tours starting after that date unless local or national public health advisories dictate otherwise.
For tours between September 21 and November 8, 2020: We are very cognizant of the fact that travel, in the face of daily changes in public information, is one in which every individual needs to assess what is right for them. As such, we have modified and loosened our cancellation policy for these tours:
At any point up to 14 days prior to the start of tours in this timeframe, any enrolled guest may cancel his/her reservation without penalty in exchange for a full credit for a future tour. If you opt for a credit, you may apply your credit to any 2021 tour or beyond at the 2020 price. We ask that anyone wishing to exercise this option notify us immediately upon making their final decision.
Should you opt to receive a credit at any point, and Carolina Tailwinds subsequently is forced to cancel the tour, we will reach out to you once again to determine if you would prefer a refund by check or continue to hold your credit on file.
This credit will not expire and will remain on your account to apply to another tour of your choice. We are currently working hard with our innkeepers and catering partners to schedule 2021 tours and post them to our website. We will be reaching out to guests with a credit on file and our past guests to attempt to give guests in these categories “first dibs” on dates that may work with their schedule.
While there is no timeline for selecting another tour to which you may apply your credit, keep in mind that we do currently have limited spots available on some of our summer and fall tours already.
Should you select another tour to which you wish to apply your credit, our usual tour cancellation policies will apply. A copy of those policies can be found here: https://www.carolinatailwinds.com/reservation-terms-and-conditions
Travel in the age of COVID 19
The team at Carolina Tailwinds has been using the downtime working hard to prepare for the moment we get the green light to travel. We want to be READY TO ROLL for our guests with enhanced safety given the current reality of traveling. We have addressed the following and are ready to implement these new ways to keep your tour both FUN and SAFE!
Sanitation and safety: Our focus has always been to present and maintain a professional, safe and clean experience. Nothing has changed in that regard. We are closely following the US Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) guidelines and recommendations on the steps we can take to help prevent the spread of the COVID 19 virus. We are working with our excellent inn partners, caterers, restaurants and our own staff to be sure we are ALL implementing these to our best ability.
We have acquired eco-friendly hospital grade disinfectant which the guide teams will use on support vehicles daily. High touch areas of our support vans and trailers will be sanitized continually throughout the day. Bikes, bottles, and more will receive more frequent cleaning throughout each tour.
We have also procured and prepared individual guest sanitation “kits” so that each enrollee on arrival can have his/her own bottle of hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes for smart phones, bike bottle cleaner, etc. to help encourage a safe environment for everyone while on tour.
Our inn and catering partners are also working hard to be sure they are taking adequate precautions to protect guests in their environments. We all have the same goal of providing an awesome guest experience and the COVID 19 Coronavirus has not changed that priority.
We are adding a staff member and a van to each tour to increase space in the van. More room!
We are also, where possible, adding routes to some itineraries to make "inn-to-inn" cycling more achievable to some riders. The longer options will still be available to those who want them.
Some itineraries may be revised entirely to eliminate required van shuttles.
As recommended by the CDC, face coverings will be required of all guests and guides whenever in the van. We recommend that guests bring their own stylish accessory to the tour, but we will have more available as well.
Picnics and Snacks:
We have always received rave reviews on both our lunch selections and the wide variety throughout the week of snacks available to refuel you on your adventure! These will still be available, but we are changing our methods of serving lunch from buffet style to cafeteria style to reduce common touch surfaces such as serving utensils. Any guide serving lunch or handing our snacks will of course be masked and gloved. Abundant and delicious food will still be a hallmark of our tours!
Happy Hours and Meals:
We are working hard to keep the FUN FACTOR high – even in an age of social distancing. Group gatherings will be outdoors as much as possible, and we are working hard at securing, where possible, spaces where social distancing is easily possible. Take-out meals will be an option for anyone who prefers it. We are confident that the social aspect of bicycle touring will be very much intact, just with a little more space!
Again, while creating a safe and awesome guest experience is our primary focus, we also have attempted to be responsible stewards of the areas through which we travel. The CDC has some great guidance up on their site regarding domestic travel within the United States:
We will be trying to do our part to follow these recommendations. All guests will be instructed to stay home if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms, especially fever and cough. While this should have been common sense even before this outbreak, we will be explicit about it going forward.
We will require that guests follow the CDC guidelines of wearing face coverings at all times where social distancing is not possible. Again, we all want to be responsible not only to our fellow guests and staff, but also to all those we are coming in contact within these remote areas. No one wants to be a unintended spreader in an area in which COVID cases have been low!
We also will conduct pre-arrival temperature checks and periodic checks while on tour to ensure the safety of fellow travelers, staff and those in the areas through which we travel. A temperature over 100.0 degrees will result in referral to medical care and testing. We will require any guest or guide experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 not participate in the remainder of the tour until a negative test result is obtained.
Many of our clients (the best people in the world!) have expressed concern for us during this crisis. We greatly appreciate that and have been unbelievably touched. Please don't worry about our financial stability. We are amply prepared to weather this ongoing current challenge. We have always been very conservative financially, and we maintain cash reserves so that we can refund every guest for the entire season if needed, and still be able to pay our bills.
Regardless of what happens in 2020, Carolina Tailwinds will be running bike tours in 2021 and beyond, we and are looking forward to getting rolling again! In the interim, we are thinking up all kinds of projects to keep the guide team and home office staff occupied.
Please take care of yourselves, practice social distancing, and all the rest. We wish everyone sunshine, tailwinds and good health!
Anne & Greg Fleming
Carolina Tailwinds, Inc.