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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to make travelers feel more concerned about safe travel, all-inclusive resorts have acted quickly to roll out new sanitization and cleanliness protocols.
But with locations around the globe, hotels in this category often follow widely different approaches to safety, depending on the brand as well as the destination and the country in which they’re located.
What are the best steps for hotel guests looking to have the safest possible all-inclusive experience?
Before the TripWhen travel advisors and their clients are considering the options for an all-inclusive vacation, it’s important to assess the comfort level of the traveler as well as the general policies of the hotel.
Most large all-inclusive hotels make it mandatory that all staff members use face masks, for example, but not all require that guests wear them. For some vacationers, that’s not a problem (and it may even be a selling point). But more health-conscious travelers may prefer to opt for properties where both employees and guests follow the same safety practices.
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Mexico’s Royal Resorts is among the all-inclusive hoteliers that requests that guests wear masks when indoors, requiring them specifically in its activity center, kids’ club, spa, stores, elevators and transportation vehicles. Hyatt Ziva and Zilara properties, meanwhile, recently began requiring masks of all hotel guests when indoors or moving around the property.
Travelers may also want to verify if the hotel is operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic, as that can make it easier to practice social distancing. In addition, hotels that are more tech-savvy may be better at offering touch-free ways to enjoy the stay — including check-in via hotel apps and digitized restaurant menus that eliminate the need to touch much-handled printed material.
Even within one hotel property, sanitation guidelines may apply to some parts of the property and not others. So, identifying what’s important to the individual traveler can help to determine which hotel is the most appropriate. If a vacationer is concerned about the coronavirus and is also a health and fitness buff, for example, he or she may not feel comfortable working out in a gym that does not require masks or social distancing.
On PropertyOnce at the hotel, there is a lot that guests can do to feel safer. Wearing a mask in all public areas is a good start, even if the resort does not require it. Following the standard guidelines of staying at least 6 feet away from other people is another good idea.
Several all-inclusive hoteliers are touting their improved room cleaning techniques, but guests should take extra precautions when they arrive, too. Many hotels now provide some kind of sanitation kit — hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and perhaps even a mask — that can be used during the stay. But bringing one’s own kit is advised, especially if it is not clear whether the hotel will provide one. Either way, immediately after check-in, guests should use a wipe to clean all “high-touch” surfaces in the guestroom — including door handles, light switches, the telephone, the television’s remote control and bathroom fixtures.
To minimize the number of people who have contact with the guestroom during the stay, travelers may want to ask that hotel staff to not perform housekeeping services or enter the room at any time, unless the guest specifically requests it.
Most all-inclusive hotels have multiple dining venues, and guests can scope out each of them to see how they feel about the seating situations: Are the tables appropriately spaced? Is there outdoor dining available? One of the great things about all-inclusive resorts is that they tend to offer lots open-air options for dining and entertainment, which is generally considered the safest option given the current situation.
Fam Trip SafetySome travel advisors are finding that fam trips are the best way to educate themselves about the “new normal” at all-inclusive resorts. And there are multiple ways that advisors can make their own visits safer, too.
For some, individual fam trips are the most comfortable route, since they eschew large groups and still allow for in-person meetings. For group fams, advisors can ask organizers about the specific health and safety protocols that will be followed on the trip. For example, will seating for meals take social distancing into consideration? Are masks required? Will group events take place outdoors or indoors?
At a recent group fam trip hosted by the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, for example, all events took place outdoors, and the group of more than 40 travel advisors split into two groups for dinners, with each group at a different open-air venue.
Comfort levels vary from traveler to traveler. Reviewing policies and taking precautions can assure that every all-inclusive vacation is the result of an informed and educated decision.