by Lisa Truesdale
While the majority of hotels and resorts around the world have been closed during this global pandemic, many of them are beginning to slowly reopen and welcome guests back with open arms.
Here, in random order, is a roundup of what hotels, resorts and hospitality brands around the world have been doing during their forced closures, and the important steps they are taking as they begin to slowly open their doors and welcome guests once again. The * denotes members of the Wellness Tourism Association
Lake Austin Spa Resort
Following an extensive two-year renovation and refurbishment of all guest rooms and public areas, Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas reopens July 1st. The intimate 19-acre hideaway, named the #1 Destination Spa Resort in North America by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler, has just 40 rooms, most offering a private canopied front porch and/or private walled garden and surrounded by nature. Plus only guests, employees and service providers are allowed on the property. New protocols include facilitating al fresco dining in such locations as the Lakeside Arbor, the guest’s private porch or personal picnic baskets.
During COVID-related closures, the wellness experts in the Canyon Ranch family continued inspiring guests by sharing their wisdom via online videos. The free videos, available to everyone, cover topics including at-home massage techniques, practicing peace, the healing power of music and daily stretching.
Now, as the wellness retreats and resorts in the Canyon Ranch family prepare to welcome back guests in person, they’re putting health and safety first (as they always do) by adopting strict health and sanitation standards as directed by the US Surgeon General. You can sign up for the Priority List and be one of the first to know when Canyon Ranch is again taking reservations for upcoming wellness stays. Here’s a story on our visit to Canyon Ranch
On March 12, hospitality group Accor announced a partnership with Bureau Veritas Africa & France, a testing, inspection and certification group, to develop a special label for certifying that appropriate safety standards and cleaning procedures are followed before businesses are allowed to reopen post-pandemic.
“Today, more than ever, our employees, customers and partners need to be reassured of our ability to offering them the best welcome possible,” says Franck Gervais, the CEO of Europe Accor. “As the European leader in hospitality, it is our duty to anticipate needs and respond to health and safety requirements by adhering to the highest standards.”
The initiative, which will be developed in partnership with doctors and epidemiologists, will set new sanitary standards. It will be shared later in May with Alliance France Tourisme and other agencies.
The Accor group includes more than 5,000 unique hotels in 110 countries, including the Fairmont, Sofitel, Banyan Tree, Swissôtel and Novotel brands. Many locations feature innovative wellness strategies, including Vitality Rooms at Swissotel, So Spa and So Fit concepts at Sofitel and Fairmont Fit, a personalized workout and apparel offering.
Eden Roc Cap Cana*
At Eden Roc Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, the staff is working diligently to prepare for a possible phased-in reopening in late May. Taking guidance from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and HS Consulting, an international hygienic consultancy company, they’ve implemented new protocols to ensure the safety of their guests. Occupancy rates will be reduced by one-third for a few months, and restaurant operations will be reduced by 50 percent. For proper social distancing, tables in the restaurant will be placed at least 6 feet apart. In the spa, staff will be observing new safety measures for treatments that cannot be completed while socially distant.
Skyterra, an award-winning wellness retreat in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, temporarily paused in-person retreats on March 30. Skyterra’s wellness experts, though, never stopped demonstrating healthy, sustainable lifestyle practices. Skyterra at Home features free online fitness and yoga classes, culinary demos, stress management techniques and more. The Skyterra Streak, a daily interactive session, happens every morning at 9 a.m. Eastern; participants are encouraged to increase their jumping jacks and squats by one rep each day until the pandemic has ended. Skyterra is expected to reopen May 29th.
Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa
Located on the outskirts of the town of Loreto, on the Sea of Cortez, off the eastern coast of the Baja Peninsula, overlooking Danzante Island and flanked by the rugged Sierra de la Giganta range, Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa, is scheduled to reopen on May 31st. The property has six swimming pools, tennis courts, miles of well-marked hiking trails and plenty of open space for social distancing. There are four on-property restaurants, with abundant outdoor seating, in addition to a fully stocked grocery and sundries market. New health and safety guidelines will be in place throughout the resort. To date there have been no recorded cases of COVID-19 in Loreto
Blue Opal Villa
As of May 12, Turks and Caicos is slowly reopening, and with the anticipated opening of the Providenciales International Airport on June 1, Rebecca Gauss at Blue Opal Villa expects to begin welcoming guests again soon. “Our maintenance and cleaning procedures are always top-notch,” Gauss says, “but when we are able to reopen, the villa and the grounds will undergo an even more thorough cleaning, sanitizing and spruce-up.” Located Located just three miles from the airport on the island’s north shore, and with three large, well-appointed master suites, Blue Opal Villa offers a private pool, a rooftop deck with a stunning sunset view, and a short walk to a public beach that Gauss says is never crowded, even during the busy season. Her guests use the beach for relaxing, swimming, yoga, meditation, snorkeling and kite-boarding.
Fivelements Retreat Bali
While some countries have begun to relax their movement sanctions, it will be a while until international travel is allowed to resume, but Fivelements Retreat Bali. overlooking the Ayung River, continues to remain open in order to support staff and the surrounding community. Packages include accommodation in the new Hillside Pool Suites, daily morning yoga in the Mandala Agung, plant-based breakfast and private use of their new boutique gym. They are taking the necessary health and safety measures including using disinfectant liquid for daily cleaning activities, checking arriving guests and staff temperatures daily, and implemented safe social distancing.
Velas Resorts is planning to reopen various properties in Mexico by the end of June. With the reopening comes new sanitary measures (called the “Stay Safe With Velas” program), which features guidelines that include special training for staff, physical distancing measures, touchless sanitizer stations, guest temperature checks, luggage sanitation, sanitizing mats, personal protective equipment for staff members and personal protection kits for guests.
Pueblo Bonito Hotels & Resorts
Between now and their scheduled reopening on June 1, Pueblo Bonito Hotels & Resort’s luxury properties in Mexico will be prepared to welcome back guests according to the company’s new CARE Pledge: Conscientious Service, Advanced Standards, Rigorous Sanitation, and Elevated Hygiene. “We understand how crucial it is to establish new standards of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing,” says Alberto Coppel, Pueblo Bonito’s CEO.
The resort company partnered with Preverisk, a company “certified in preventive protocols for COVID-19 disinfection, hygiene, general sanitation and food safety.” They’ve instituted new safety protocols, beginning when guests step off the plane at the airport. All luggage will be sanitized upon arrival, and guests will enter a sanitation cabin, where their temperature will be checked. All resorts in the collection will be observing social distancing of six feet in all public areas, including restaurants and pools, and mobile check-in will eliminate the need for up-close interaction with front-desk staff.
Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat
Opening for its 3rd season May 29th, Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat is located an hour and a half from Toronto near Cobourg, Ontario. It offers all the five-star frills of a carefully curated boutique hotel, right in the heart of the forest-covered Canadian wilderness. Last season, Travel to Wellness writer Erin Davis visited for this story.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in Banff, Lake Louise and Whistler will reopen their doors to guests and visitors on June 1, 2020. This includes guest services and select food and beverage venues, as well as limited spa services at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and other Fairmont properties in Canada’s Western Mountain Region.
The new operational standards being implemented at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and other Fairmont properties were developed and vetted by a team of expert advisors to ensure maximum efficacy in preventing the spread of all viruses and pathogens, including COVID-19. At each touchpoint along the guest journey through the hotel, extensive measures are being taken to protect guests and employees, including physical distancing; mandatory screening for all guests and employees, which may include a temperature check; masks provided to guests and worn by all employees; a 48-hour “settling period” for occupied rooms post-departure; increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting, with a focus on high-touch points; and continued use of EPA registered disinfecting chemicals, proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Hands-on training for all employees, a dedicated on-property rollout committee and a formal audit program, validated under the global ALLSAFE Cleanliness label, ensure initial and continued compliance.
Editor’s note: We’ll add other updates as they come to our attention
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lisa Truesdale is a Colorado-based writer and regular contributor to Travel to Wellness.