The world is moving towards a new normal – there’s still dubiety regarding international travel, however, the search volumes for domestic staycations definitely uphold an appetite for going on vacation. No surprise that it’s one of the biggest holiday trends currently.
A staycation means ‘stay’ and ‘vacation’ – A vacation that you take near your home for a slightly longer period of time than a regular holiday. Guests want to surround themselves with greenery and nature and get some fresh air with good weather after being locked inside their homes for months now. They also look forward to diversity in cuisines including immunity booster drinks/ dishes and indulge in outdoor physical activities including in Yoga and Meditation.
The Covid-19 situation and the impact of lockdown have had a disastrous impact on the country’s tourism sector for now and perhaps forever. Vibhas Prasad, Director Leisure Hotels Group tells us, “Massive cancellations in March lead up to the lockdown and closure of all our hotels has ensured complete erosion in all revenues up to September as Himachal and Uttarakhand Government did not allow access into the state with Covid test which deterred travelers into the state.”
Kush Kapoor, CEO, Roseate Hotels & Resorts adds, “One thing that’s certain in these unprecedented, uncertain times is that Covid-19 will continue to be the determining factor on the road map to the recovery of hospitality. While it might take time for the industry to fully recover, Hoteliers are coming up with innovative solutions to generate revenues. The Hotel Industry is presently witnessing a surge in demand for Staycations’ – The answer to weary millenniums and work from home employees who are in dire need for a vacation but want to be assured of the best hygiene standards. Restaurants are focusing more on takeaways with contactless delivery services.”
However, in the near future, we expect domestic leisure to pick up wherein people would travel in their own cars to areas where there are limited cases or chances for exposure. Prasad believes that small boutique properties would be attractive for customers due to their layout which provides privacy and protection. The hill areas of Himachal and Uttarakhand have many such properties in close proximity to Delhi/NCR, Western UP, and Punjab.
Hotels and restaurants are taking extra efforts to make sure they are giving safe for people. Prasad tells, “We are committed to offering guests a safe environment, utmost convenience, and a warm and delightful experience across all its properties. We are the only hotel chain to offer Covid RT-PCR test at home when the State Government needed travelers to get tests before crossing state borders.”
“All touchpoints in public areas like a door handle, elevator buttons, countertops, tabletops, railings, etc. are cleaned continuously using a sanitizer/disinfectant. Stringent Protocols are in place for staff in the kitchens, restaurants, in-room dining, business centers, and banquet halls to sanitize their hands every time they serve food or touch food-related items.”
He adds, “Correctly formulated hand sanitizers are in place in all guest rooms and at all public spaces and include the entrances, lobbies, corridors, business centers, cloakrooms, etc. Our cars are disinfected after each use, as is luggage, before entering the hotel. Masks and disposable gloves are being worn by all team members at all times and changed frequently. Housekeeping staff uses fresh gloves for every room they service.”
On the other hand, Kapoor tells us, “We have been certified by Bureau Veritas, leading certification body for our safety precautions and hygiene practices, which is the most important factor especially in these Covid times.”
“We ensure that every guest is thermally screened at entry gates. Display of ‘Safe’ status in the Arogya Setu app for staff & guests and the wearing of masks that be a must to enter the hotel premises. All hotel vehicles are disinfected at entry points and after every use. Sanitizers are kept in all prominent locations within the hotel. Guest luggage is thoroughly disinfected from outside upon arrival. To enable seamless, remote check-ins, touchless check-ins is being facilitated via an app, in which all information is pre-registered.”
“After check out, the same room is allocated only after 24 hours post being thoroughly disinfected. Also, touchless dining is paramount which involves ordering and making payments via an app,” he adds.
Work from home is here to stay and keeping this in mind, hotels are coming up with the Work From Hotel concept. Kapoor tells us, “Work From Hotel allows working people to step out of their house in a safe environment to conduct their meetings, conferences or just solo working with respite from the prevailing lockdown at home and self-indulge in a cocooned, luxurious yet safe environment. A dedicated versatile work station equipped to power your work gizmos during technical meetings with Wi-Fi, and an in-room tea-coffee making facility to stimulate your senses when you take a quick break, make it just perfect. Guests can even indulge in inspiring views outside amidst safe and sublime surroundings. A wholesome working lunch curated by our in-house chefs is also included to complete a fulfilling day.”
Lessons from the ongoing pandemic are loud and clear. Social distancing, the importance of hygiene, and sanitation cannot be overstressed. It is also now deeply ingrained in the human psyche at large how large-scale meddling was the precursor of the crisis and people want to move more towards nature. In these times, sustainable travel assumes a depth and meaning which were absent before. People want to reduce their carbon imprint and staycations out of cities are becoming one of the most popular trends.
Staycations are ideal options for families that are deciding what to do for their holidays; trying to balance concerns about their finances and their fear of Covid-19, with their desire for fun and relaxation. The pandemic may instead be pushing a revival of creative holiday making nearer to home, with potentially huge benefits for crisis-hit local economies.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine