Britons will soon go on holiday again. Hotel and B&B owners tell guests to expect strict rules around face masks, eating areas, and social distancing – but vaccines won’t be mandatory

People sit in deckchairs on the beach as they enjoy the warm weather on the seafront on July 30, 2014 in Weymouth, England.
People sit in deckchairs on the beach as they enjoy the warm weather on the seafront on July 30, 2014 in Weymouth, England.

  • Hotels, B&Bs and holiday parks in the UK told Insider how they’re preparing for guests this summer.
  • Over 27.6 million Brits have had at least one shot but hotel owners said this won’t be mandatory.
  • Holiday parks will be opening April 12, while hotels and B&Bs will accept guests from May 17.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The holiday season is nearly upon us. But there’s speculation about whether people in the UK will be able to travel abroad due to the increased worry of coronavirus variants spreading and cases rising.

This uncertainty, along with COVID-19 restrictions, is turning more people towards domestic holidays to visit the British coastline, country parks and smaller towns and cities.

In accordance with UK government guidelines, hotels, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and other shared accommodation in England are allowed to open on May 17. This is the same date that international travel can continue.

While self-contained accommodation, which requires no shared facilities between guests, can reopen on April 12.

Insider spoke to a range of hotels, holiday parks and B&Bs, which are preparing for guests to come back and how their facilities will be run differently.

Vaccines won’t be mandatory

A plane passes over the Travelodge Hotel at Heathrow.
A plane passes over the Travelodge Hotel at Heathrow.

So far, more than 30 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the vaccine but most owners said they won’t make this a requirement for guests.

Travelodge, an independent UK chain hotel, which has more than 570 hotels across the UK, currently only allows keyworkers and those who need to travel for work to stay in its hotels, a spokesperson told Insider.

When asked if Travelodge will make the vaccine mandatory for guests, the spokesperson said: “We will continue to stringently follow government guidelines and policy in regards to operating in the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Currently, the government does not require hotel guests to be vaccinated.

The situation is similar in holiday parks. Centre Parcs, which has five short-break holiday villages across the UK, will open on April 12 and have the same COVID-19 safety measures it had in place last year, spokesperson Simon Kay told Insider.

“In line with government guidelines we will not be requiring guests to have been vaccinated,” he said.

Haven Holidays, another chain of holiday parks in the UK, told Insider it’s planning to reopen all of its locations on April 12. A company spokesperson said the government haven’t sent Haven any details about COVID-19 passports and declined to comment on the implementation of them.

Hazelwood Farm
Hazelwood Farm

Hazelwood Farm B&B in York, in northern England, will also be carrying on with coronavirus measures. The owner, Annette McAnespie described making the vaccine mandatory as a “Catch 22 situation” and could be “construed as discriminatory.”

“I am lucky in that most of my gorgeous guests are retirement age so the stats are that most of them would have chosen to have had the vaccine and would have had their first jab, if not their second one too, by the time I can reopen,” McAnespie said.

At the other end of the country, the Penellen B&B, based in Cornwall – a popular holiday destination in south-west England – will open on May 17th with COVID-19 practices that were in place last year.

Paul and Barbara Goldingay, owners of The Penellen, told Insider that they are not making the vaccine mandatory because it would be too difficult to police.

Face masks stay on and social distancing remains

Haven Holidays' employee
Haven Holidays’ employee

Travelodge said, like many other chain hotels, its safety measures include wearing face masks indoors, social distancing, contactless payment and checkout, and no housekeeping teams in guests’ rooms during their stay.

The Penellen and Hazelwood Farm’s coronavirus measures both include wearing face masks.

McAnespie is using two out of the three rooms available on Hazelwood Farm. She plans to steam-clean the curtains and remove cushions from the bedrooms as part of the B&B’s coronavirus policy. She told Insider she hopes to see the back of restrictions in September.

Center Parcs has had a surge in bookings recently, especially from the summer onwards, according to Kay.

COVID-19 safety measures in its holiday parks include fewer guests on-site, wearing face masks where necessary, social distancing in all areas including on beaches and a frequent and improved cleaning regime in the villages.

Haven Holidays, which owns 40 parks across the UK, will bring back the Clean and Safe Charter that it introduced in July. This includes a contactless check-in process, social-distancing measures in all public places, and cleaning teams in the parks.

Eating and dining in accommodation

Haven Holidays
Haven Holidays

Guests staying in Travelodge hotels won’t be able to dine in the restaurants or bars until June 21, when the rest of hospitality is allowed to open, per the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Hazelwood Farm B&B in York isn’t offering its usual breakfast buffet. McAnespie told Insider guests’ cold breakfast orders will be taken the evening before and hot breakfast orders will be taken the same morning with the waitress, Nettie, standing at a distance.

She said the B&B will try to stagger breakfast times for the three rooms as there are only two tables in the dining room with the option to also sit outside. Continental breakfast can also be delivered to the room, as well as any other takeaways from local pubs in the area, McAnespie added.

The Penellen said it will also be serving guests at the table, rather than offering a buffet service.

Holidays parks such as Center Parcs and Haven Holidays offer self-catered accommodation so guests can cook for themselves.

Other restrictions in place

Center Parc Bispinger Heide is written on a sign in front of the park area
Center Parc Bispinger Heide is written on a sign in front of the park area

Center Parcs’ Book with Confidence guarantee offers guests free cancellation and a full refund within six weeks of the arrival date, if they decide to no longer go on holiday to the village. They can also change the dates of their stay.

“It is clear that people want reassurance about the flexibility to cancel or change dates,” said Kay.

As part of Haven’s Caravan Cleanliness Guarantee, a specialist team member checks each holiday home after its been disinfected using virus-killing products and seals up the door. Guests are entitled to a full refund if the holiday home isn’t cleaned to its standards, the company said in a statement to Insider.

Similar to Center Parcs, the company’s Coronavirus Book with Confidence Guarantee means guests can cancel their booking between three and 28 days prior to arrival at no cost and be fully refunded, Haven said.

Paul and Barbara from The Penellen said the majority of bookings for this year are rescheduled from last year.

Their “main worry is people from the UK going on holiday overseas and then returning carrying a new variant,” they said.

“In our opinion, all borders should be closed for non-essential travel for the time being,” they added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The COVID pandemic is calling out the hospitality industry on its biggest bluff: wellness

Wellness amenities hotel
It’s no longer enough for wellness amenities to be only skin deep.

  • Wellness has been a buzzword in the hospitality industry for years.
  • The pandemic has created a new focus on safety and cleanliness across the world, especially in hospitality.
  • The change shows that hospitality’s focus on wellness was really just about the illusion of wellness.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For years, wellness has been the biggest word in hospitality.

Eucalyptus towels upon check-in? That’s a wellness amenity. A personal wellness concierge to lead you on a run in your temporary city? That’s a wellness amenity. Aromatherapy bath salts and Vitamin C-infused shower water? You guessed it – wellness.

It’s grown into more than a marketing hook – it’s a massive industry. A report from the Global Wellness Institute put the value of the wellness economy, which includes but also extends beyond hospitality, at an estimated $4.5 trillion in 2017-2018.

But what the pandemic – and the attempts at recovery – has thrown into sharp relief is that the much-lauded wellness amenities of the pre-COVID era are just not going to cut it anymore. Now that the world is considering the prospect of traveling through a safety-specific lens, it’s clear that what hotels previously got away with billing as wellness was really just about the illusion of wellness.

wellness amenities spa
All the candles in the world won’t qualify as “wellness” in a post-pandemic world.

Out with the old ideas of wellness

Before COVID-19, wellness was a term with many implications.

As Ophelia Yeung and Katherine Johnston, senior research fellows at the Global Wellness Institute, wrote in a 2018 report, “… wellness has become a selling point for all kinds of products and services – from food and vitamins to real estate and vacation packages, and from gym memberships and health care plans to meditation apps and DNA testing kits.”

Hotels and resorts leaned into the word’s many meanings.

Marriott International’s Westin launched a wellness campaign in 2017 that included healthy breakfasts, fitness-gear-lending programs, and paraben-free shower products. Hilton’s wellness program increased the number of workout rooms in hotels, and Hyatt invested in things like blackout shades, warm-colored lighting, and better mattresses to improve its guests’ wellbeing.

Meanwhile, wellness retreats, too, found a vast many ways to interpret the trend. That’s a point Ingo Schweder, Founder of Horwath HTL Health & Wellness, touched on in a 2018 industry report.

Wellness retreats, Schweder wrote, were places you could go seeking the spiritual, or places you could go to indulge in healthy gourmet food. Alternatively, they were places to lose a couple pounds, or get cosmetic treatments.

In short, lots of things were classified as falling within the broad umbrella term, and travelers loved it. Global spend on wellness tourism – think $5,000 weekend wellness summits and resorts with on-site therapists – hit an estimated $639 billion in 2017.

A superficial wellness reckoning

Many countries are now looking to reopen their borders and jumpstart their tourism industries. Travelers are expressing interest in hitting the road again – but they’re also displaying a shift in priorities.

When booking a hotel, the overall no. 2 priority for travelers is enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices, per an American Hotels and Lodging Association (AHLA) report from January. “Enhanced cleaning” ranked as a top-three factor when making a travel booking for 45% of respondents in an October 2020 survey conducted by vacation-rental platform Home to Go. And 54% of people surveyed in February by the crisis-response company Global Rescue indicated they are concerned about health – particularly as relates to the coronavirus – when traveling. Last year, before the coronavirus pandemic, the number of people who said they were concerned about health when traveling was only 35%.

In other words, what people are looking after is their safety. The wellness amenities – the saline pools, the in-room Peloton bikes – that hotels previously invested in to kept travelers feeling fit, relaxed, and taken care of are not the same ones that are going to keep them safe during a pandemic. And it spells a wellness reckoning for the hospitality industry.

To be sure, it’s not only the hospitality sector that’s up against this challenge. High-end real estate, too, has been known to bill amenities like tranquility gardens and outdoor yoga decks as wellness amenities; it, too, will have to answer to whether or not a rooftop sauna still constitutes a “wellness amenity” in the post-COVID era.

That’s also not to say that maintaining an active lifestyle – like one that makes use of a hotel’s gym or an apartment complex’s tennis courts – isn’t a part of staying healthy. It could even be argued that prior to a health crisis as extreme as the COVID pandemic, offering spaces in which travelers and residents could step away from their screens and focus on taking care of their bodies and minds was wellness-promoting enough.

But it’s clear the COVID pandemic has permanently changed the ways people and businesses approach personal safety and health.

The hospitality sector’s wellness reckoning stands to be particularly severe because of the hit it took during the pandemic. In the US alone, nearly four million jobs were lost in hospitality and leisure between February 2020 and March 2021. A January report from the AHLA predicts it’ll take until 2024 for the travel industry to rebound to 2019 levels.

empty hotel pandemic hospitality
2020 was a devastating year for hotels.

Welcome to a new definition of wellness in hospitality

As evidenced by the new campaigns that started rolling out as early as April of last year, many leading hospitality chains are pivoting to deliver on the new wave of wellness requirements of the post-COVID world.

In April 2020, Marriott – the world’s biggest hotel chain – launched its Global Cleanliness Council with a focus on examining cleanliness standards; more recently, it announced it would be providing COVID-19 tests to business travelers. In July, Hilton launched Hilton Clean Stay, a program focused specifically on hotel cleanliness and disinfection. And Intercontinental Hotels Group partnered with Cleveland Clinic to launch IHG Clean Promise with a focus on hygiene and safety practices.

Tellingly, these campaigns offer a far stricter, antiseptic interpretation of “wellness.” What remains to be seen now is whether they are convincing enough to entice travelers back in, and whether or not they prove sufficient in actually keeping those travelers safe – and well.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Miami is bracing for a flood of spring break travelers as hotel bookings soar

Spring break visitors on Miami Beach in 2017
Spring break visitors on Miami Beach in 2017.

  • Spring break travelers are flocking to Miami despite COVID-19.
  • Miami hotels are seeing 90% occupancy rates for weekend bookings during the spring break season.
  • However, spring break will look different this year due to safety protocols and restrictions.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Like every other event during COVID-19, this year’s spring break will look different from years’ past. But despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, springtime vacations in Miami are still on.

Similar to last year, Miami Beach has implemented COVID-19 safety protocols through spring break from February 22 through April 12. This includes a curfew in Miami-Dade County from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m, capacity limits on some public beaches, and an uptick in police presence. Alcohol consumption will also be banned from public beaches during this “high impact period.” 

However, these limitations aren’t stopping many travelers: Miami’s 2021 spring break season will likely be the busiest time for the city’s hotels since COVID-19 first hit the US, according to Wendy Kallergis, president and CEO of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association.

Occupancy rates at Miami hotels are hitting all-time highs since the start of the pandemic

miami beach spring break
Miami Beach during spring break in 2017.

Jan Freitag – the national director for hospitality market analytics at STR, a hospitality data and analytics group – is predicting that Miami, and all of South Florida, will do “quite well” during the spring break travel season into the potential summer travel boom

Occupancy rates in Miami hotels grew from almost 42% in October 2020 to nearly 55% in January 2021, according to data from STR. During the week of Feb. 14 to Feb. 20, these rates skyrocketed to 76% – which was down 14% from the same week last year, just before the pandemic started impacting travel.

Now, hotels in Miami are looking at 90% occupancy rates for Thursday-through-Sunday stays during the spring break season, Kallergis told Insider.

Among those is Mint House, a business travel and tech-oriented hotel chain with two Miami locations that have been seeing “extremely high” occupancy rates ahead of the spring break season, Will Lucas, CEO and founder of Mint House, told Insider in an email statement.

In February, Mint House’s Miami hotels hit an occupancy rate of more than 95%. They’re now heading into March with a 70% rate, but Lucas expects them to push past 90% by the end of the month.

Both Miami locations are now booked every weekend through April 5. 

Differences compared to non-pandemic spring breaks

miami spring break 2020
Spring break in Miami in March 2020.

There will be some changes compared to previous Miami spring breaks, however. Events that have traditionally drawn people to the city – including Ultra Music Festival and large work conferences – have been canceled, which could decrease the number of springtime visitors. The county’s curfew could also put a damper on late-night beach parties, and many Miami hotels are still asking guests to wear masks. 

“If you are coming here with an anything-goes party attitude, change your flight reservation now and go to Vegas,” Raul Aguila, Miami Beach’s city manager, said during a city-council meeting, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Miami Beach is not going to tolerate anarchy.”

And the uptick in bookings may not be driven solely by college students, like in years past. Many students are still remote, and several colleges have taken precautionary steps to prevent the traditional “spring break” from happening.

Instead, Freitag thinks the surge in Miami bookings can be tied to “American consumers at large” looking to get out after being stuck at home for so long due to COVID-19.

Kallergis also predicts these travelers will be spending more time at their hotels’ pools, restaurants, bars, and patios instead of roaming around the city. 

“I think the hotels are ready,” Kallergis told Insider. “They’re definitely staffed up, and they’re hoping for even more business inside their properties.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Hyatt says it’s creating a ‘highly inclusive environment’ as people call for a boycott of the hotel chain for hosting CPAC in Florida

trump cpac merch
Various items are seen on sale at the merchandise show at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.

  • People are calling for a boycott of Hyatt, an American hotel chain that is hosting CPAC this weekend.
  • The annual political gathering for conservatives is taking place at Orlando’s Hyatt Regency hotel.
  • A Hyatt spokesperson said the chain is responsible for creating an inclusive environment.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As people call for a boycott of Hyatt for hosting this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, the American hotel chain is standing up for what it is describing as its  values of inclusivity and respect.

“We take pride in operating a highly inclusive environment and we believe that the facilitation of gatherings is a central element of what we do as a hospitality company,” a Hyatt spokesperson told Fox Business in response to hosting CPAC in its Hyatt Regency hotel in Orlando, Florida.

“We believe in the right of individuals and organizations to peacefully express their views, independent of the degree to which the perspectives of those hosting meetings and events at our hotels align with ours.”

The Hyatt spokesperson said the chain is responsible for creating an inclusive environment for all guests.

People initially took to Twitter over the weekend to call out the American hotel chain for hosting the conservative event, which is featuring speeches from Republican lawmakers, former White House officials, and former President Donald Trump. Many people took issue with the design of the event’s stage, which was reminiscent of symbol used by the Nazi party.

This year’s event is also shadowed by the January 6 iinsurrection at the US Capitol by Trump supporters. The mob had been fueled by baseless claims of election fraud propagated by Trump and other far-right conservatives, including his long-time ally Roger Stone, who was on stage at the Florida event on Saturday. 

 

Some prominent Republicans took to Twitter to defend the hotel chain.

The event officially ends on Sunday, February 28. On Friday, CPAC hosts were booed and heckled when they asked crowd to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rising remote work is upping job inequality in European capitals and ‘scarring’ some sectors, says OECD report

Paris
The expansion of remote working has led to labor inequalities in major European capitals.

  • An report by the OECD and Indeed warned that remote working may aggravate labor inequality. 
  • Analyzing job postings for major European capitals, experts said the service sector may be scarred.
  • The percentage of remote job postings is increasing but the job market has still not recovered.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Remote working options have allowed many companies to keep going during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some companies even thriving as a result. However, this hasn’t been possible in all sectors with retail, hospitality, and healthcare among the most affected.

The expansion of remote working has led to labor inequalities in major European capitals including London, Paris, Madrid, and Berlin. Unemployment in the UK hit its highest level in five years last month and job offers have been harder to come by in all the cities and their countries. Meanwhile, remote jobs have thrived.

Sundar Pichai
Google plans to try and accommodate remote working indefinitely.

This is one of the major findings published in a report on remote working in European capitals, co-authored by OECD economist Lukas Kleine-Rueschkamp and the Indeed job portal’s chief research economist for the MENA area Pawel Adrjan.

Using data from the Indeed portal, they said: “Labour markets in these cities are being pulled apart in early 2021, with postings for higher-paid jobs performing better than those for lower-paid service jobs.”

Remote working as a factor of inequality

“The move to remote work is greater and more persistent in these cities than in other places and may be long-lasting,” the report said.

A survey conducted in January by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) found that just one in 10 companies expected their employees to return to the office after the pandemic.

Major companies have recently extended their remote working policies, with Google planning to try and accommodate remote working indefinitely.

“Cities such as London have already experienced population declines,” Kleine-Rueschkamp and Adrjan added. They said that although it was unlikely that living in a major European capital would not have its perks after the pandemic, “the trends COVID-19 has initiated might weaken their appeal.”

Remote working does appear to be much more prevalent in major cities than in the rest of the country. Remote work increased 7.3% higher in Berlin than in the rest of Germany, and 5.4% more in Madrid than the rest of Spain.

london street
The report warned of the consequences of further decline in European capitals.

Paris and London had smaller disparities but they were still notable. Remote working growth was 4% higher in Paris than in the whole of France, and 2.4% higher in London than the rest of the UK.

Remote job offers previously constituted 5% of the overall workforce in Madrid in 2020 but stood at 15.7% a year later. In the rest of Spain, the rate has increased from 4% to 10.4%.

The report attributes this phenomenon to the fact that “postings in occupations suitable for working at home, like tech, finance, law, and marketing, are most prevalent in big cities.” In comparison, the service sector is heavily affected by remote working and could be “scarred for a long time,” especially in London and Paris.

Fewer jobs available than before the pandemic

The OECD report revealed that job markets in European capitals had been seriously hit by the pandemic. London was the worst affected, with 41% fewer vacancies at the end of January 2021 compared to February 2020.

Paris and Madrid both had around 25% fewer vacancies than before the pandemic, while Berlin had 8% fewer. Paris was the only instance where the capital was worse affected than the rest of the country.

The report warned of the consequences of further decline in European capitals, as their economic growth tended to outstrip the rest of the country. In the years prior to the pandemic, “GDP per capita jumped more than 12% in these cities, almost 3 percentage points faster than national growth.”

At the height of the pandemic-related job market contractions, however, capitals were affected more than the rest of the country.

Job openings in London were 57% lower than before the pandemic, 48% lower in Madrid, 42% lower in Paris, and 26% lower in Berlin. The report noted that “for much of 2020, job openings in these cities were between five and 15 percentage points lower” than the rest of the country.

The report said large cities would “a difficult adjustment period for some urban workers,” adding that “the pandemic’s labor market effects may be temporary for some sectors, but, for others, they may last.”

Policymakers should support displaced workers and those at risk of redundancy by offering comprehensive skills development strategies tailored to local conditions,” the researchers concluded.

Read the original article on Business Insider