Safety first for holiday getaways

High-end getaways such as Chiva-Som maintain their charms while enhancing hygienic measures. (Photo courtesy of Chiva-Som)

After months of business suspension due to Covid-19, several hotels and resorts have resumed operation, and many more are soon to follow suit. Various promotions with special benefits are being offered to draw guests, and income, back to the properties. Still, despite immense travel cravings, a great many people may still feel uncomfortable to sleep at someplace other than home, and thus reluctant to take advantage of the opportunity.

The truth is that apart from designing tempting packages, a lot of hotels and resorts, especially upscale ones, have also paid serious attention to enhancing their hygienic measures. Acquainting yourself with the new protocols adopted by leading players in the hospitality industry may not only help restore your confidence in taking a vacation but also give you some idea of what to look for when choosing holiday accommodation.

Upon arrival at a good property, you, as a guest, will have your temperature checked and your hands sanitised. A face mask, of course, is a crucial part of the dress code both for guests and staff. Some places, like the Chiva-Som in Hua Hin, even go a step further -- all arriving guests need to walk on a sanitiser mat. Don't be surprised if your luggage has to undergo a disinfection procedure.

After the check-in process is done and you have your now sanitised ID and credit cards back, a staff member will lead you to your room which will have been deep-cleaned and not used by any guest the past 24-72 hours, depending on the policy of each property.

Apart from the conventional room cleaning process and the shift to using hospital-grade disinfectants, certain chains like Centara Hotels & Resorts also use electrostatic disinfection treatment to make sure their rooms are safe to sleep in. Meanwhile, Chiva-Som opts for ultraviolet light, and Pimalai on Krabi's Koh Lanta uses ozone sterilisation to rid their rooms of germs. By the way, hand sanitising gel is now among the basic in-room amenities.

New seat arrangements with social distancing in mind at the Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld. (Photo courtesy of Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld)

In all common areas, from lobby, lifts and lounges to the gym, meeting rooms, conference halls and food outlets, social distancing must be observed. A self-service buffet is, therefore, out of question. At the Park Hyatt Bangkok which I visited the other day, all guests had breakfast served in their rooms. Speaking of F&B, some hotels now enable you to order food from your smartphone so you no longer need to touch the printed menu. Spas are also an area that serious attention must be paid to. Ideally, each therapist should wear a mask and face shield. The guest receiving treatment should also wear a mask. However, that may not work in practice. Trust me, I tried.

Saunas, steam rooms and common-use Jacuzzis, for now, remain off-limits. Swimming pools can be used but social distancing applies. The sanitation of the pool water must also be stringently maintained. Cape & Kantary Hotels -- which, unlike the other brands previously mentioned, has not yet reopened its properties but will do on July 1 -- claims that water samples from its swimming pools and other areas will be sent for lab tests on a weekly basis to ensure cleanliness.

Some hotels have obtained SHA certification, which means their safety and health administration is up to the Tourism Authority of Thailand's standard. This may be something to look for when you need to decide where to book.

Last but not least, properties that care about this issue will make health and safety information easy to find on their websites.