Resourceful hoteliers stay open coronavirus

While countless hotels worldwide have shuttered because of
plummeting occupancy amid the Covid-19 pandemic, some enterprising hoteliers
have adapted in order to stay open.

In Delray Beach, Fla., boutique property Crane’s Beach House
has repositioned itself as an extended-stay accommodation, offering reduced
rates in order to attract month-long bookings. According to general manager
Cathy Balestriere, the decision was made in response to guest demand.

“This is March in South Florida,” said Balestriere. “This is
when we are normally at the height of our season, and we usually have a lot of
our Northern and Northeastern clients that come in for 30 days or longer, year
after year. And they were already here. So, some decided to stick it out and

While rates for a studio at Crane’s Beach House typically start
at around $400 per night, the property is currently charging around $129 per
night ($4,180 per month) for the same room type. As of March 19, Balestriere
said 18 of the resort’s 28 rooms were occupied. 

Crane’s Beach House benefits from being set up for long-term
stays and self-isolation. Each of the property’s studio and one-bedroom
accommodations feature a kitchenette or full kitchen, and all rooms have
individual outdoor entrances. Some rooms have private patios, and Balestriere
has rearranged and separated all outdoor seating to promote social distancing.

The resort has implemented a stringent “no contact” guest
service policy. Guests are welcomed remotely, with initial communication
occurring via a Ring video doorbell. Check-in processes are completed in-room
via phone. Any requested items — such as extra towels or toiletries — are
dropped off in front of doors in disinfected plastic bins. Housekeeping time
slots are pre-scheduled, with guests required to step out of the room for 45
minutes during cleaning. Each room is cleaned by a single housekeeper in order
to minimize risk.

“We all wanted to make sure we were taking enough
responsibility to feel safe about what we’re doing,” said Balestriere.

In nearby Palm Beach, the Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa is
similarly keeping its doors open, catering to guests who are extending their
stays or have been displaced as other hotels in the area close. While the
property had to close its sushi restaurant, Mizu, it has kept its signature
restaurant, Brandon’s, operating.  The
restaurant’s full menu is available for takeout and delivery for both locals
and guests.

Also targeting travelers looking to hunker down for a longer
stay is Maine’s Kennebunkport Resort Collection, which plans to make its Cape
Arundel Inn and Cabot Cove Cottages available for weekly and monthly stays when
they open for the season this spring.

Buyouts of Cape Arundel’s seven-room main house and three-bedroom
cottage are priced at $9,500 per week/$36,000 per month and $2,500 per
week/$10,000 per month, respectively, while Cabot Cove Cottages, which offers
16 standalone units, can be booked for $1,500 per week/$5,500 per month. 

“With what’s happening, we’re seeing summer residents
arriving earlier to get away from things,” said Deb Lennon, managing partner
for Kennebunkport Resort Collection. “And we’re also getting inquiries from our
repeat guests, reaching out to see what we have open. So that sparked the idea
of offering buyouts to families who may want to escape their condos in more
densely populated areas.”

Like Crane’s Beach House, Cabot Cove Cottages offer a
no-contact check-in experience, with all guest communications being done online
or over the phone, while Cape Arundel Inn includes a host check-in visit at
what Lennon calls “a safe distance.”

Heightened precautions have been put in place around
cleaning, with housekeepers wearing gloves and masks. A concierge can arrange
for grocery delivery, while at Cape Arundel Inn, a chef is also available for
private meals. 

“It is really hard being in the travel business right now,” said
Lennon. “But we do recognize that some people want an opportunity to have some
kind of respite away from things. And this also offers us the opportunity to
keep our team engaged and employed.”

Taking things a step further is Le Bijou, a luxury apartment-hotel
brand that operates locations in Zurich, Zug, Lucerne, Basel, Bern and Geneva,
Switzerland. The company is advertising serviced “quarantine apartments,”
complete with no-contact check-in, food delivery and personal chef services.
Guests can even bypass a visit to the hospital and opt instead for an in-room
coronavirus test and healthcare services from Double Check Zurich, a private
Swiss health clinic.

Prices for Covid-19 quarantine stays are available upon request, but prior to the pandemic, rates at Le Bijou apartments typically ranged between $800 to $2,000 per night. Healthcare services are available separately at around $500 for coronavirus testing, approximately $1,800 for twice-daily nurse visits and roughly $4,800 for 24/7 nurse care.

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This Is the Last Remaining Opening Day Ride in Universal Studios Florida

There’s a lot of reasons to love Universal Studios Florida. After opening its doors in June 1990, it’s become home to many attractions like Fast & Furious: Supercharged, Halloween Horror Nights, and last but not least, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Sadly, it also saw the closing of many of its other attractions, like The Blues Brothers Show, and Back to the Future: The Ride. But worry not, it is still possible to take a walk down memory lane at Universal Florida as one attraction from its opening days remains—the E.T. Adventure. Wondering what the difference is between Disney and Universal? Here’s the answer.

a palm tree in front of Universal Studios Florida

History of Universal Studios Florida

The plans to open Universal Studios Florida were announced in 1986, to compete with long-time rival Disney. When it opened in June 1990, Universal Florida didn’t exactly have a smooth start. Local and national news were there and so were the guests, but most of the rides didn’t even work yet. Despite the setbacks, Universal decided to persist, offering every guest who visited a free ticket to return for another day in the future, according to Theme Park Insider.

The strategy must have worked, as the following year, Universal added four new attractions to the theme park, The Blues Brothers Show, StreetBusters, The Screen Test Home Video Adventure, and How to Make a Mega Movie Deal, and kept growing ever since. The park now brings in around 10 million visitors a year and has seen the closing of many of its opening-day attractions to make room for newer ones. According to Ashlynn Webb, public relations coordinator at Universal Orlando Resort, the E.T. Adventure is the only opening-day attraction that has withstood the test of time.

What is the E.T. Adventure?

The E.T. Adventure is based on the beloved 1982 sci-fi movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestial, and gives the visitors a chance to feel like they’re in the movie themselves. How? By taking a ride on one of the movie’s iconic flying bicycles! In the attractions early years, guests also had the option of riding in a spaceship modeled after the one that E.T. came to Earth on in the movie, according to The Other Orlando.

The ride takes the visitors through various adventures. They travel past NASA and police officers chasing them, fly over the city into outer space, and visit E.T.’s home, the Green Planet. At the end of the ride, E.T. thanks each of the visitors by name and says goodbye with his iconic line, “I’ll be right here.” Next, find out more about another iconic ride, Universal’s Harry Potter Ride.

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