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Travel

How the virus will change hotels, B&Bs and villas for ever

Check out the new check-in: Mini bars replaced by sanitation units. Housekeeping robots. And no more buffets… how the virus will change hotels, B&Bs and villas forever

  • Hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more 
  • There are plenty of bargains on offer at hotels and B&Bs to tempt travellers back 
  • But what is being put in place to keep you safe? Here’s what to expect…

Mid-rant, Basil Fawlty, the irascible hotel owner played by John Cleese in classic TV comedy Fawlty Towers, is interrupted by a guest complaining: ‘I’m not satisfied!’

To this, Fawlty — not one to take criticism lightly — raises an eyebrow and snaps: ‘Well, people like you never are, are you?’

How Fawlty would have coped with the expectations of today’s desperate holidaymakers we’ll never know — but, thankfully, real hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more.

hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more. But what will you get for your cash? And what measures are being put in place to keep you safe?

It will be a case of hand sanitiser at every turn, endless cleaning, contactless payments at reception — and you can forget that complimentary welcome drink.

We could see plenty of bargains on offer at hotels and B&Bs to tempt travellers back, and the same with air fares.

But what will you get for your cash? And what measures are being put in place to keep you safe?

Here’s what to expect…

HOTELS

  • Contactless check-ins will be the order of the day, with printed room keys and no requirement to queue to check out. Self-service machines, wiped down regularly, will be a feature of hotel lobbies everywhere. Many groups including Ruby Hotels, Citizen M and Premier Inn already have this at some properties.
  • Thermal screening on arrival could be the norm. It’s already been introduced at the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum in Turkey.
  • Collection cars from airports may also be phased in. Many guests will not want to use public transport. Partitions and drivers wearing PPE could become standard ‘upgrades’. At mass-market hotels in resorts in the likes of Spain and Turkey, buses with extra spacing will be brought in.
  • Facial recognition is a possibility at check-in at the most high-tech hotels, plus at lifts and for room entry. It’s already done at the FlyZoo Hotel in China.
  • Face masks for all guests will be provided. Accor group hotels, which includes Ibis, Sofitel and Novitel, is preparing this.

RENTALS 

Holiday rentals of every type will have to prove they are clean to reassure customers 

  • Social distancing will be easier than in hotels so bookings may boom.
  • Every type of holiday rental will have to prove they are clean to reassure customers.
  • Hygiene standards approved by governments are expected across the globe. Singapore’s SG Clean initiative and Portugal’s Clean & Safe stamp are some of the first nationwide initiatives.
  • In the UK, Premier Cottages is part of an advisory panel, along with UK Hospitality, Visit England and others, which will formulate health and safety guidelines to be circulated by the Professional Association of Self-Caterers.
  • More self-catering accommodation will offer electronic key-safes and contactless check-in; already being introduced by Oliver’s Travels, which has holiday rentals in the UK and Europe.
  • Chefs on call will be offered more widely because people are reluctant to eat at restaurants.
  • Deep cleans will be organised between bookings, so swap-over where guests leave in the morning and others arrive in the afternoon become rarer. Mullans Bay in Northern Ireland has brought in deep cleaning between bookings, as well as a requirement for guests to drive to the door of the rental so check-in is contactless.
  • To win guests away from hotels that can no longer easily offer such services, some upmarket rental chains may offer spa treatments in privacy. The Greek Villas company has already begun this.
  • If hosts do not install hand-sanitiser dispensers and plastic divisions, or put plastic coverings over their own household items, some guests could be put off.
  • Renting out rooms within houses will become much less popular as guests may doubt social distancing and cleanliness.

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Travel

How to prepare for a post-lockdown break

It’s time you got ready for lift-off: How to prepare for a post-lockdown break with this four-step checklist

  • Check the expiry date on your passport and European Health Insurance Card 
  • Be wary about letting travel insurance lapse or you could face a high renewal fee
  • If you plan to rent a car when abroad, check your driving licence is still valid

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: How to get ready for a post-lockdown break.

They are called ‘the new Martini set’ – travel-lovers so desperate to get away that, as the famous drinks advert once promised, they’re ready to go ‘any time, any place, anywhere’.

With bags packed and passport at hand, all they need now is for the lockdown to end.

Raring to go: Getting everything in order now means you won’t be caught out when holidays resume

‘We know plenty of people who miss travel so much that they don’t care where they go for their next holiday,’ says Michele Robson, of luxury travel blog Turning Left For Less. ‘They just want to be on one of the first planes to take off when travel restrictions are lifted.’

When that will be remains uncertain. In the meantime, travel experts suggest this four-step checklist to ensure you are ready for when the world reopens.

First, check your passport. Many countries will let you in only if it has at least six months before it is due to expire. From January, EU countries may also turn away UK residents if their passport is more than ten years old – many are valid for up to ten years nine months.

Check the expiry date and also its issue date to see how long it lasts and how old it is. If necessary, search ‘passports’ at gov.uk to renew it online for £75.50, or pay £16 extra for the ‘check and send’ service at post offices. Both are available during lockdown, although turnaround times may be longer than the usual three weeks.

Passports for under-16s have to be renewed every five years.

Next, check the expiry date on your European Health Insurance Card. The EHIC gives UK citizens free emergency medical care in the EU until the end of the year, while negotiations continue to see if this can be extended indefinitely.

The cards expire every five years (end dates are on the front) and some 450,000 a month are likely to become invalid between now and January. It’s free to renew (or get your first one) by visiting ehic.org.uk.

Check the expiry date on your European Health Insurance Card – the cards expire every five years

Be wary about letting travel insurance lapse, especially if you have a holiday booked for later this year or in 2021.

High renewal quotes are being reported for those whose annual policies expire during lockdown, while new plans are being issued with extra exclusions so future claims relating to coronavirus are likely to be refused.

However, big names including Aviva, Direct Line and most comparison websites have stopped accepting new travel-insurance customers so it may be difficult to find an alternative provider.

Despite a high renewal quote, paying up means your holiday is still protected and you benefit from cancellation cover if you are unable to go due to non-coronavirus ill-health or other reasons right up to your departure date.

If you have a holiday booked and rely on travel insurance offered as a perk with your current account, it will be risky to switch accounts until you’re sure you can find alternative insurance elsewhere.

If you plan to rent a car when abroad or are taking your own to Europe, check that your driving licence isn’t about to expire.

Renewals cost £14 and can be done online through gov.uk or use the Post Office ‘check and send’ service for £21.50. Post offices can also let you know if you will need an international driving permit, which they can supply for £5.50.

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Cruises

How Karisma is Caring for its Employees and Communities During COVID-19

Karisma Hotels & Resorts shared some details today of the ways in which it’s working to support its employees, communities and at-home guests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has always been ethically oriented, community-centric and compelled to care for its team members simply out of a sense of doing what’s right.

In addition to its other ongoing good-works initiatives, Karisma is currently engaged in the following efforts:

— Karisma Hotels & Resorts has protected its entire full-time workforce, providing continued employment even in the face of the hotel industry’s current financial predicament.

—The Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana property, with the assistance of municipality police, is delivering 800 meals daily to Dominican community members who are most in need of support.

—The Karisma Foundation is providing medicine and medical supplies for 160 beneficiaries who are currently impacted by COVID-19 in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. El Dorado Royale is also supplying food from its 75,000 square-foot onsite greenhouse at-cost to the local community.

—El Dorado Royale is further delivering free baskets of the foods produced in its greenhouse to hotel employees and Riviera Maya locals in need.

—To support the mental health of the global community, Karisma has also launched its #ExperienceElDoradoAtHome campaign to provide guests with virtual vacation moments that can be enjoyed from home. A video series highlights topics such as salsa dancing, mojito making, crafting the perfect taco, and tips and tricks on wellness and ideal skincare routines. Over the next few weeks, the El Dorado Spa Resorts will present on recipes for signature dishes and drinks, and resort activities for viewers to try at home for a taste of travel while safely self-isolating.

For more information, visit karismahotels.com.

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Travel

Here’s How to Take Over 20 of the Best Disney World Rides Virtually


If you’re a die-hard Disney fan looking for some good news, look no further. For the first time ever in Disney’s history, all Disney parks around the world have been closed indefinitely since March 16. Luckily, we can still have some fun on the best Disney World rides virtually.  

a sign on the side of a road

How can you take the virtual rides?

Have you ever wished you could take your favorite Disney World rides without having to wait in long lines? Thanks to the YouTube account Virtual Disney World, you can do it now. The channel has been offering virtual reality rides through 360-degree videos since 2016. All you need to do is click on the page and you can take as many rides as you want for free. If you want to make things even more fun, you’ll be happy to know that the rides are compatible with a virtual reality headset or a smartphone with a headset. You’ll have fun learning these 23 mindblowing facts about Disneyland.

The channel has over 62,000 subscribers to date and includes rides from Disney World’s Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Universal and more. Each video takes you through one ride from start to finish—no waiting in long lines or travel necessary! If you’re looking for more fun Disney-related activities you can do at home, try to see if you can spot all the hidden Mickeys in Disney World’s new ride.

What are some of the rides that you can take?

Thanks to Virtual Disney World, you can take rides from all of the four theme parks in Disney World, as well as Disneyland rides, and rides that no longer exist. For those who may wonder: Here’s the difference between Disneyland and Disney World.

These are the most popular attractions for viewers:

The Slinky Dog Dash from Disney’s Hollywood Studios features a two-minute roller coaster ride.

The Frozen Ever After from Disney’s Epcot theme park is a song-filled journey in a slow-moving boat ride through short waterfalls.

Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain from Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park is a race through the Himalayas on a speeding train.

Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid, which is at Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park, recreates scenes from the classic film.

Are there other virtual Disney offerings?

While the YouTube channel offering these rides is not officially affiliated with Disney, there are other virtual attractions that Disney is offering until the parks open again. If you’re looking to add some creativity into your day, you can watch a complete series of how-to tutorials on drawing Disney characters. Need some magic in your life? You can view Disney’s Magic Happens Parade online, and experience the magic without having to stake out the “perfect spot” to see the parade. You can also take a virtual, behind-the-scenes tour of Walt Disney’s Imagineering, which is a very rare treat. Or, you can join in this magical moment as the Dapper Dans, an iconic part of the Main Street, U.S.A. experience at Disneyland Resort, give a video-performance to bring some joy into people’s lives.

The post Here’s How to Take Over 20 of the Best Disney World Rides Virtually appeared first on Reader’s Digest.

WATCH: Disney safari cast member ‘works from home’ with stuffed animals (provided by USA TODAY)


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    2021 cruise bookings are on the rise despite coronavirus chaos
    The cruise line industry has taken a major beating due to covid-19, still analysts say the number of bookings for 2021 cruises have increased since this time last year.

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    Coronavirus-hit cruise ships able to dock in Florida
    Two Holland America cruise ships with coronavirus patients aboard were finally allowed to dock at a port near Fort Lauderdale, resolving a days-long impasse that drew the attention of President Donald Trump. Jillian Kitchener has more.

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    Reuters – US Video Online

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Cruises

How Suppliers Are Preparing for the Travel Comeback

In preparation for the recovery of the travel industry once the coronavirus is surpassed, suppliers are debuting an array of incentives and special offers to help agents jumpstart their sales.

“What we have really been seeing from suppliers is their flexibility with policies, and adding incentives to get clients to go for future travel credits instead of canceling everything outright for a refund,” said Hannah Nowicki of Sunset Travel & Cruise. “For example, many large suppliers are offering vouchers for 125 percent of the trip cost for future travel. Cruise lines are also doing the same with incentivizing additional onboard credits.”

She noted that she is also “seeing extended ‘travel dates’ offered by suppliers. Many are now offering December 2021 as the expiration for future travel credits. This is huge,” she said. “Incentivizing these future travel credits for clients not only helps them with extra perks, but it also protects our commission. It really is a win-win all around.”

“The ‘battle cry’ of all cruise lines is under the generic umbrella of ‘Cruising With Confidence,’” said James Ferguson of Travel Edge, adding that in some cases lines are 50 percent off the cruise fare for the second guest.”

Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel added: “Vendors are also providing webinars and online training about products to recommend once the pandemic subsides.”

Here is a handful of supplier offers that have been recently unveiled:

Playa Hotels & Resorts introduced a “Once-In-A-Lifetime-Savings” plan, which provides access to the company’s lowest-ever rates with a 100 percent refund cancellation window.

Vacationers who canceled stays at the Curacao Marriott Beach due to the coronavirus can rebook with such perks as $100 food-and-beverage credits and complimentary cancellations up to 24 hours before arrival.

As reported, Regency Seven Seas Cruises debuted “Regent Reassurance” for trips scheduled now through September 30, 2020. Travelers who have paid in full have the option to cancel up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a 100 percent future cruise credit, which can be applied to any new booking within one year on any future Regent voyage sailing between now and December 31, 2022.

AmaWaterways unveiled “Travel Waiver Plus, which provides cancellations for any reason and includes future cruise credits covering cancellation penalties.

Crystal implemented a temporary cancellation policy that enables guests to cancel up to seven days prior to sailing, along with 100 percent future cruise credit on its ocean, river, yacht and expedition sailings.

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Cruises

When and How Will Cruising Return?

While the entire travel industry has ground to a halt from the coronavirus pandemic, the cruise industry was hit especially hard as multiple ships were turned away from ports while passengers and crew fell ill and even died.

“COVID-19 has been a PR disaster for the cruise industry,” said Ben Cordwell, a travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

How does the cruise industry recover and regain its momentum?

“Since the cruise industry pivoted from passenger shipping to leisure cruising in the 1970s, cruise lines have not faced a full-scale halt of operations like they face today due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Robert J. Kwortnik, an associate professor at Cornell University’s Hotel School, who studies tourism with a focus on the leisure cruise industry. “This situation truly is unprecedented, which means the response to it will have to be unprecedented as well.”

First, the cruise companies need to secure the finances needed to keep the core operations running – which they’re already doing. Kwortnik said they also need to prepare logistically for re-crewing ships when they are ready to resume sailing, especially with travel restrictions and severely reduced numbers of flights.

They’ll also have to figure out how to weed out sick passengers and disembark ill and healthy guests if the need ever arises again, he said. It likely will mean more detailed health forms before boarding and thermal scans to check temperatures.

“Stronger or different health screenings may become the new normal for the cruise industry, much like the more involved TSA screenings implemented after the 9/11 tragedy in the United States,” Kwortnik said.

Flexible cancellation policies also may be required so people don’t lose all they paid if they cancel at the last minute due to illness. “Reducing, and ideally eliminating, the possibility of sick passengers getting on a cruise ship will require both more vigilance at the port and the removal of disincentives for ill travelers to show up at the port in the first place,” he said.

But the biggest challenge likely will be convincing people to take a cruise. Steeply discounted fares will help, at least with avid cruisers eager to return to the seas. But many travelers will need to be convinced that ships are disinfected and clean.

“Veteran cruisers know how seriously cruise lines take onboard cleaning and hand-washing to minimize the threat of norovirus. But coronavirus is very different,” Kwortnik said. “Moreover, the important new-to-cruise segment doesn’t have experience with the extraordinary sanitation measures used by cruise lines to minimize the threat of illness spreading onboard. While it’s reasonable for the cruise lines to be reluctant to discuss a common objection to cruising — the fear of getting sick — it may now be necessary to move the question of health/sanitation more front and center as part of a public awareness campaign, especially for travel agents and the new-to-cruise market.”

In fact, Crystal Cruises released a video by President and CEO Tom Wolber, in which he said the luxury line enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols for ships, terminals and vehicles transporting guests. Carnival Cruise Line also detailed its more rigorous cleaning standards on its website.

When cruising does resume, travel advisors will be essential in helping the cruise industry recover, just as they were in building the industry since the 1970s.

“Travel agents may never have been more important to the cruise industry than now. Agents will be key sources of information for cruise education as the cruise lines make operational changes to protect passenger safety, and of course for information about cruises sailing again, itinerary changes, reservation and cancelation changes, etc.,” Kwortnik said. “Communicating and incentivizing the travel trade will be vital to the industry’s reemergence. Travel agents are trusted by their clients, and this trust will be critical as travelers decide if and when it’s safe to cruise for the first time or to cruise again.

“Cruising is an outstanding vacation value, and the industry will come out of this pandemic stronger and all the more focused on guest safety and security,” Kwortnik said. “There’s no reason travel agents shouldn’t be confident to continue selling cruises to their clients and to recommend cruises for customers who have never sailed before.”

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Travel

How Women Can Maximize Their Travel Experiences, According to a Woman Who Made It Her Job


When Lauren Bates got laid off, she decided to turn a bad situation into an opportunity to follow her dream.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Lauren Bates founded Wild Terrains, a travel company with women in mind, after losing her job in 2018. Wild Terrains currently plans trips to Portugal and Mexico with itineraries that revolve around female business owners and entrepreneurs.

“There are so many women who lost jobs and they feel like it is this rare thing that has happened to them,” Bates, the founder and CEO of the all-women travel company Wild Terrains, told Travel + Leisure. “It doesn’t have to be this traumatic [thing].”

So when Bates took the leap to start her own travel company in 2018, she decided to focus on what she saw as something missing from the market. Rather than plan around hitting specific tourist attractions or centering the trip around a niche activity like yoga, Bates’ planning revolved around the women she wanted her travelers to meet — entrepreneurs and business owners.

“At Wild Terrains, our mission is to create travel experiences that propel women forward by giving them a safe space to make meaningful connections and have those deep conversations that transcend borders and generations” Bates told T+L. “Cultivating these meaningful connections among women is transformative. Seeing the world through other women’s eyes makes us wiser. It opens us up.”

a group of people posing for the camera: Lauren Louise Photography

The company has now grown to plan trips in two countries — Mexico and Portugal — and is looking to add a third in Argentina this spring.

“Most travel companies start with the things they want you to do and not the people who are interesting in that culture. Our business model is totally flipped,” she said.

Bates starts by finding someone like a female perfume maker or jewelry designer and curates her itineraries around these women — they often have the best stories to tell, after all. Trips include food crawls, classes and meeting with local boss babes.

She invites people to learn about the company’s partners on the website, highlighting their businesses and the powerful women behind them.

“To me, that’s the cultural exchange we need, especially for women, to be having conversations like ‘what is it like to be a woman in Mexico?’” she added. “We’re in such an important time in the world now. If women aren’t having those conversations, how do we create a more equal world? I don’t think we do.”

a group of people sitting at a table with wine glasses: Lauren Louise Photography

Bates has spent many years traveling both as a solo woman and in a group, and these are her best tips for women to maximize their own travel experiences.

Be Proactive

Bates said travelers shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to the people or businesses they want to explore when they get to their destination. If there’s a specific shop you want to visit, for example, she said to try sending them a message on social media and see if you can meet the owner in person.

“I think people underestimate how much locals want to share,” she said. “Most humans want to connect with other people. Send that email, send that DM on Instagram.”

Think Outside the Box in Terms of Travel Companions

Bates suggests broadening who you’re willing to travel with by thinking outside only your age group (hello moms and grandmothers) or considering someone you may not know as well.

“Travel makes people really close,” she said. “Try a short, long weekend with someone you maybe don’t know that well.”

Be Intentional with How You Spend Money

Bates told T+L that it’s important to know where your money is going by doing your research ahead of time. Bates suggested things like finding out if the person who owns the airbnb you’re staying at is a local and figuring out who you’re supporting with your tourism dollars.

Create a Balance Between Planning and Leaving Room for Spontaneity

While Bates says it’s a good idea to plan things like accommodation in advance, it’s also important to leave room to explore.

“My usual rule of thumb is I will plan one thing I have to do per day and then I leave the rest open,” she said. “I’ll create a Google map [for] all the places I’m interested in seeing like shops and cafes and then after I do my one thing of the day… I’ll open up that Google map and then I just walk.”

Eat like a Local

One of the best parts about traveling is food and that can be even better if you know the best spots to go to.

“See if you can meet a local and ask them to take you to their favorite spots,” she said. “When I get in a cab or an Uber from an airport, I ask the cab driver to give me their favorite spots. I ask the bartender, they always know the non-touristy places to go for great food and great drinks.”

Besides, when eating like a local, the experience turns into so much more than trying new food.

“When we explore, eat, learn, laugh and authentically share ourselves with each other — we amplify each other,” Bates added. “This human exchange through travel lays the foundation for a more understanding and equal world.”


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    Crew member performs beatbox routine for passengers
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    Storyful

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    Why you shouldn’t use seat pockets
    Flights are becoming less and less pleasant, and with everything going on right now it’s okay to be paranoid and take a bit of extra precaution. Flight attendants have found some pretty nasty things inside of the seat pockets and advise travelers not to use them. Veuer’s Johana Restrepo has more.
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    Veuer

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    The best and worst airline to travel with your pet
    Traveling with your pet can get expensive, but we have a list of a few airline that charge affordable fees. Buzz60’s Taisha Henry has the story.
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