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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The best UK farms to stay at during the joyous lambing season

Family breaks that come woolly loaded: The best farms to stay on during the joyous lambing season

  • Here is how to enjoy one of the most joyous parts of the farming year
  • Visit places such as Mudchute Park in London to see newborn lambs in the fields
  • Stay Lambing Live, in Cumbria, is a popular place to stay in lambing season 

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week, he looks at visits to family-friendly farms.

Spring is finally in the air and this year’s main lambing season is set to coincide with the school Easter holidays. Soon, flocks of photogenic gambolling lambs will be seen across the country. Here is how to enjoy one of the most joyous parts of the farming year.

Lambtastic cottages

Adorable: Children and lambs enjoy feeding time (stock image)

Farm stays can be magical in lambing season and are often booked a year in advance. You can stay in a cottage, converted barn or farmhouse – and hardier souls may consider a springtime stay in a yurt or on a glamping site as well.

The most popular places to book include the Cumbrian cottage that hosted presenters Kate Humble and Adam Henson for the BBC’s Lambing Live in 2011 – a three-bed property called Stay Lambing Live. Four-night midweek breaks start at £845 in lambing season.

In Cornwall, the lambing shed opens its doors to guests staying at The Olde House cottages on the 550-acre Penpont Farm.

Other well-recommended farm stays include Hare Farm in Sussex, Millmoor Farm in Cheshire and Hicks Farm in Powys. The BBC’s Countryfile magazine has a guide to the best farm stays in the different seasons.

Cuddles and feeds

Day trips to National Trust sites, where most gardens are still open, are another way to see lambs up close. Last spring the 13,000-acre country estate at Wallington in Northumberland even offered Lambing Shed Live events, where visitors took a tractor ride before helping cuddle and feed the babies. 

The estate also offered Lambing Apprentice days, with a full shift volunteering in the lambing shed to get a feel for life as a farmer. Down in Devon, there are plenty of lambs gambolling around the Trust’s elegant Arlington Court estate on the edge of Exmoor, and free talks by farmers planned for April evenings will hopefully be rescheduled for later in the year. Details will be on the National Trust website.

Country in the city

Visit places such as Mudchute Park, above, in London to see newborn lambs in the fields 

City farms can share the magic for those who can’t manage to get out to the countryside. The newly reopened Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is one of many urban farm projects to offer a little taste of the country. London has nearly a dozen city farms, including Mudchute Park, across the River Thames from the gleaming skyscrapers of Canary Wharf.

Owners say a lack of funds for promotion and advertising means many locals have no idea what’s on their doorstep. Visit places such as Mudchute and you can have the extraordinary experience of seeing newborn lambs in the fields, even as you walk down neighbouring city streets. You can buy locally produced wool and fleece from the flock on the farm’s online shop. 

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