As travel restrictions ease and intrastate travel is allowed in all states, many of us are looking forward to our first getaway in months. But lots of people are still nervous about staying away from home; a fear of catching the virus and being in close contact with other people is a real concern for many.
The hospitality industry is having to think on its feet; as well as offering safety assurances, they’re having to provide clever alternatives so guests can enjoy a break without getting too close to others.
What the industry is doing to make people feel safe
* The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) has launched the COVID Clean Practising Business program. This allows small and medium businesses to develop plans and procedures to create COVID safe operations, including guidelines on social distancing for staff and guests. If you see the COVID Clean Practising Business mark on-premises or a company’s website, you know they’re following appropriate procedures.
* The majority of hotels are now offering contactless, keyless check-ins, with hardly any personal contact. Buffets and mini-bars are gone, replaced by in-room dining or takeaway left at your door.
* Extra cleaning is being employed in-rooms and throughout the rest of the premises in most venues. Linen changes and in-room cleaning during your stay are less frequent (or not at all if you request), and windows are left open between guest stays to improve air-flow.
* Major hotel chains have introduced company-wide policies to allay guests fears. Marriott is using electrostatic sprayers which mist disinfectant across large areas to clean guest rooms and is also testing UV cleaning technology. Hilton has a ‘CleanStay Room Seal’ to show rooms haven’t been accessed since they were cleaned. They are also working with the Mayo Clinic's Infection Prevention and Control team to inform their cleaning policies.
These hotels are offering clever ways of social distancing, all without losing their luxury appeal:
ACT and NSW
If you’re after fine dining but don’t want to have travel outside your hotel or sit in a restaurant with other diners, the Ovolo Nishi in Canberra is offering a “Restaurant in Room.” You can book a three or five-course dinner from Monster, served in your room by socially-distancing wait staff. Dinner is from $129 per couple, and if you pay an extra $90 you can stay the night too.
The Crowne Plaza Canberra and Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach are offering ‘micro-wedding packages’ for couples who don’t want to cancel their wedding but do want to stay in a hotel where they can guarantee social distancing and extra hygiene. Packages are $400 for a socially-distant venue, celebrant, hotel room and dinner for the couple and two guests.
If you want secluded luxury within easy reach of Sydney, Bangalay Villas is your spot. The resort sits on the edge of Shoalhaven’s Seven Mile Beach and is made up of 16 totally private villas. Each beautifully appointed villa comes complete with cleaning equipment and disinfectant surface spray and offers remote check-in and keyless entry. Instead of heading to the restaurant, you can get in-room dining or takeaway delivered straight to your door – and left on your doorstep if you so choose.
In Bouddi National Park, 90 minutes from Sydney is The Pretty Beach House. The exclusive lodge has just four rooms – so a maximum of eight people at any one time, making social distancing very easy. Their ethos is “home away from home” so you can have food and drinks delivered to your room, with minimum human contact.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery when it comes to working from home, but still want to socially distance from your colleagues, Next Hotel in Brisbane is offering the perfect solution; a private room from 9 am-5 pm with free parking (so no public transport), free wif-fi, and make your own tea and coffee facilities. Plus, if you’re working late you can stay the night for an extra $30.
Lizard Island Resort is the most northerly Great Barrier Reef resort, making social distancing pretty easy. When you get there, it’s even easier to be alone; there are 40 rooms on the island, and 24 idyllic white-sand beaches – which means less than two people per beach. Pretty good odds of not being too close to anyone. It will reopen in September.
Social distancing is easy when you stay at The Cube on the Murray River; this floating pod is on Adelaide’s Murray River, so people have to cross water to reach you. It even comes with a breakfast hamper left at your door, so you don’t even have to avoid people at the shops.
The Manor Basket Range in the Adelaide Hills is a historic estate which has 12 self-contained townhouse-style suites, so you’re unlikely to run into other guests. They’ll drop breakfast at your door, and the large gardens make socially distancing easy if you want to stretch your legs. They are also offering a micro-wedding package, where a couple can host 20 guests in an area away from other guests, with staff who are following social distancing guidelines.
Unyoked cabins, in rural Victoria, NSW, and Queensland are secluded cabins, which have always been promoted as a place to escape others. Now they’re going a step further and removing any items in their cabins which may transfer germs, such as yoga mats and picnic blankets. BYO accessories to make the most of the seclusion.
If you want to throw a children’s birthday party away from crowds of people (and soft play), The Langham in Melbourne is offering Kids Glamping packages, complete with tents, backpacks full of activities, pillows, robes, slippers and milkshakes delivered to the door. The hotel reopens on June 30.
Eco-friendly cabins Hobart Hideway Pods are 20 minutes drive from the centre of Hobart, and the perfect place to socially distance. In fact, the owner Clare Corrigan let them out for free for travellers returning to Tasmania who had to self-isolate. “First and foremost we need to look after each other, especially the vulnerable in our community,” she said. All pods have now been deep-cleaned and are ready for guests keen to keep away from others again. Bring your own breakfast, or ask for it to be delivered to your pod door.
H on Smith in Darwin is offering “Stay Safe” packages where you can order a grocery shop and ready-made meals direct to your door. If you don’t opt for the special package, in-room dining is required.
Cape Lodge sits on a vineyard in Margaret River, and has just 22 rooms set in expansive grounds. If there are still too many people around, you can hire the Residence, a private house that sleeps eight people. It sits on its own three acres of grounds and boasts its own private lake too. It has a fully equipped kitchen too, so you can cook and eat your own food.
Blackwood River Houseboats on Margaret River are the ultimate way to stay away from others. You can skipper your own boat and choose where – or if - you dock – as you sail through 25 metres of National Park and river reserve. You’ll be closer to river dolphins than people.
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