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As countries in Asia impose stricter entry requirements on foreign visitors amid a new wave of imported coronavirus infections, hotels in the region are seeing unexpected opportunities as quarantine lodgings for travelers and workers seeking self-isolation venues.
Industry players say the unusual proposal of repurposing hotels as quarantine quarters is one way the battered hospitality sector could fill up some rooms and get much-needed revenue during such tough times, while lending a hand to the most affected sectors or communities amid the escalating situation worldwide.
While hotels in parts of Europe and the U.S. have announced moves to reutilize their empty properties as shelters for the homeless, in Asia they are more likely to double as temporary housing solutions for workers affected by border closures. Or they serve to help people undergoing mandatory self-isolation due to their possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Do Not Disturb
With few people traveling right now, Thailand’s A-One Hotels Group is employing a new tactic to attract bookings by rolling out a self-quarantine package at its Bangkok and Pattaya hotels, the company’s director of sales and marketing Shreyash Shah told Skift.
These full-board packages are targeted at Thais or residents who wish to isolate themselves for 14 days. Meals are delivered to the rooms on trolleys, while dishes, cutlery and bedsheets used by guests in self-isolation will be separated for special handling.
A special team will provide daily housekeeping services and help monitor the conditions of the guests under quarantine. Should any of these guests become unwell or develop any coronavirus symptoms during their stay at the hotel, they will immediately be sent to the several hospitals located in the vicinity of the hotel, according to Shah.
“We hope to get at least some customers with these quarantine packages, as standard tourists will not come during this time,” Shah remarked. These packages are priced very competitively with rates slashed by 20 percent, he added.
With the Singapore government making it mandatory for anyone entering the country since March 20, 11.59 p.m. to undergo a 14-day stay-at-home notice, Park Hotel Group Executive Director Shin Hui Tan has already seen an uptick in enquiries from returning residents wanting to check themselves into hotels during the two-week period.
Anticipating more guests to check into its hotels for self-quarantine in the days ahead as more overseas Singaporeans return to the country, the hotel group has launched a packaged stay inclusive of three daily meals, said Tan. The package is priced at “very special rates so it can only defray some operating costs,” she added.
Budget hotel startup RedDoorz, meanwhile, is also providing a number of rooms as alternate lodging for foreign workers to serve the recently implemented 14-day stay-home-notice levied by the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore, a country that is heavily reliant on foreign manpower.
“We are also exploring other avenues on how we can support those affected, and are actively pursuing potential government-led initiatives to identify ways in which we can contribute to their ongoing efforts, not just in Singapore but across the region,” a RedDoorz spokesperson told Skift. The budget hotel network is currently present in more than 150 cities across Southeast Asia with a property tally of more than 1,800.
Elsewhere in the region, Macau has so far designated seven hotels as venues of medical observation for residents returning to the city. Such a move, according to the Macao Government Tourism Office, will enable the authorities to better monitor residents’ health conditions and allow immediate follow-up test and treatment if necessary, in turn reducing the risk of transmission of disease within the household and community.
Accommodating Stranded Travelers
Even in such tumultuous times, hotels in Asia say business has not entirely evaporated although they are seeing the lowest of occupancies in recent times.
Six Senses Yao Noi, located on the island of Koh Yao Noi in southern Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, is still seeing business from existing guests looking “to wait out the situation” at the island resort, according to the resort’s Marketing Communications Manager Nicolette Ng.
While Ng said some guests cut short their stay to return home as countries worldwide tighten their borders, there were some travelers who flew out from Europe to the Six Senses resort before the continent closed its borders last week.
These small pockets of business are still offering some “positives” for the resort despite the situation, she remarked.
With Bangkok and its surrounds now in partial lockdown, Alexander Wallace, CEO of Pragma Hospitality, foresees a greater likelihood of more travelers stranded in Thailand as global travel bans multiply with each passing day while international flight capacity is drastically cut.
The hotel management company is now in the midst of designing full-board packages to be launched at its budget hotels in Thailand to cater to visitors who may not be able to return home, said Wallace.
Should Thailand go into full lockdown, Wallace intends to keep his hotel kitchens open for outside catering. “We will provide food at a reasonable cost and generate some revenue to cover losses.”
“It’s a fight for survival now and we will fight hard,” he stated.