• On a Christmas vacation in Jamaica, Beth Ring and her husband tested positive for COVID-19.
  • After spending two days in a state-run quarantine hotel, the couple chartered a $35,000 flight home.
  • Ring told Insider she wished she had a better quarantine plan or purchased travel insurance.

On Christmas morning, Beth Ring was relaxing in a villa in Jamaica.

Beth, 53, her husband, Dan, 54, their five children, and their son’s girlfriend were wrapping up an eight-day vacation at the Mais Oui Villa, a luxury accommodation they said cost about $2,250 a night.

Beth Ring told Insider they took a number of precautions: Most had gotten their booster shots, they ate outdoors, chartered private boats to avoid strangers, masked up in public, and prioritized activities outside.

But as the trip came to a close, Ring said she noticed a dry throat and cough. The day before she was set to fly home to Chicago, Ring said she and her family took rapid at-home antigen COVID-19 tests.

A negative test was required to board their return flight, but Ring and her husband tested positive.

The couple ended up spending two and a half days in a government-run quarantine hotel before choosing to leave the mandated quarantine and pay $35,000 for a private air ambulance — a luxury service that is becoming increasingly popular among those who can afford it — to get home.

At the time of their trip, Jamaica’s Health Ministry required travelers who tested positive to quarantine for 10 days (the current policy has since been shortened to five days for US travelers as long as they’re asymptomatic). As part of the original policy, travelers who tested positive would then have two options — find accommodations at their own expense or go to a free government-run quarantine hotel.

Beth and Dan Ring said they had limited options. Mais Oui is rented to one group at a time, and new guests were set to arrive, so quarantining there wasn’t possible. Darrell Looney, an owner of the villa, told Insider there were reciprocal arrangements in place to accept COVID-19-positive guests with other villas and properties but at the time of the Rings’ travel, those locations were booked because of an influx of holiday vacationers. According to the Jamaica Observer, Jamaica in December experienced a surge in tourists, with numbers comparable to pre-COVID-19 times.

Because of the influx of tourists, they also had trouble finding another hotel with an open room. “Our hosts were making calls, trying to find us another villa where we could stay, but everything was booked,” Beth Ring said.

They were able to book a room at the El Greco Resort, a free government-run quarantine hotel. Ring said she knew El Greco wouldn’t be like the Mais Oui, which had a private chef, butler, and luxury environs. But she said spotty WiFi, a lack of hot water, and concerns about the hotel’s COVID-19 protocols cemented her and her husband’s decision to charter the private flight home.

Representatives for Jamaica’s Ministry of Health did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment about the accommodations.

The couple started filling out paperwork for Air Ambulance Worldwide on December 26, shortly after checking in to the quarantine hotel, and wired the service $35,000.

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