Published on September 21st, 2012 | by Mark Chesnut
Travel Safety in Latin America: How VIPs & Celebrities Stay Safe
I recently wrote a story about VIP and celebrity security for Latin Business Traveler, a subscription-only media outlet whose readers pay big bucks to protect their privacy and safety. Here are some of the ways that these travelers stay safe (and if you ever wondered where to take a quick bodyguard course, now you know).
BY MARK CHESNUT
Reprinted by permission from Latin Business Traveler
It’s an inevitability that some business travel destinations will require a few security precautions. While those with business in certain countries are most likely to think about security needs, they are hardly the only places that may require extra steps to ensure a traveler’s safety. Fortunately, both hotels and private services offer a variety of options in the region.
At the Bannister Hotel, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World at Samana Bay, Dominican Republic, guests can request personal protection and security, whether they are executives, artists, entrepreneurs or other VIP types. “Our team is bodyguard-trained by instructors who have been trained in foreign countries recognized worldwide, [such] as the United States and Israel,” according to a spokesperson.
Like many luxury properties, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts provides various layers of security for every guest, including restricted access. At its Mexico City location, for example, vehicles arrive on the ground level of the building, but visitors must be escorted or use their room key to access the actual lobby and other floors. Extra security detail for VIP and celebrity guests is arranged ahead of time depending on their needs.
As with many hotels, St. Regis does not provide security services to guests when they are off the premises. That’s where private security companies come in. When it comes to the need for this sort of protection, “Mexico and Venezuela are the places most travelers are wary of and where people need security,” says Orlando Wilson, a Miami-based chief tactical instructor and specialist security contractor with Risks Inc., which provides bodyguard training and services in Europe and the Americas. “The main crime people are concerned about is kidnapping.”
To help determine which security services are appropriate, Risks performs vulnerability assessments based on what a client requires and requests, “and a lot depends on their budget,” Wilson says. “We do a research-based threat assessment or we can send personnel to the location to do the assessment.”
The final determination is based on that assessment and the particulars of the destination, according to Wilson. “A lot depends on the laws, such as those on the use of armed guards, etc. We also have to look at political situations and best judge what is acceptable within that country.” For travelers looking to develop their own security detail, Risks also offers classes, including a four-day intensive bodyguard course, a three-day corporate security-kidnapping and ransom training course and an eight-day covert operations and bodyguard course. And lest you forget the company’s most basic safety recommendation, Risks also sells T-shirts with its slogan: “Stay low and keep moving.”
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