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Covid-19: Hundreds of Singaporeans book staycations after some hotels get permission to reopen

SINGAPORE — Hundreds of Singaporeans have booked staycations in the first few days since some hotels here got the go-ahead from the authorities to reopen for bookings. They had to stop taking in guests when the circuit breaker to restrict movement and business activities began in early April because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19: Hundreds of Singaporeans book staycations after some hotels get permission to reopen

Capella Singapore, on Sentosa Island, is one of the hotels attracting strong interest from Singaporeans looking for a staycation now that some hotels have been permitted to reopen.

  • 35 hotels had been approved to reopen as of July 15
  • Several hotels are fully booked for the weekends until mid-August
  • Many are offering staycation packages and F&B promotions to encourage bookings
  • Access to gyms, swimming pools is limited to a small number of users each time

 

SINGAPORE — Hundreds of Singaporeans have booked staycations in the first few days since some hotels here got the go-ahead from the authorities to reopen for bookings. They had to stop taking in guests when the circuit breaker to restrict movement and business activities began in early April because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some hotels told TODAY that they are fully booked for the next few weekends, while others reported occupancy rates of up to 80 per cent. Several hotels are wooing guests with discount staycation packages and food-and-beverage (F&B) promotions.

For months now, Singaporeans have been unable to travel abroad or to stay at hotels here during the coronavirus crisis.

As part of the wider push to reopen the economy gradually, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on July 3 announced that hotels may apply to the authorities to take bookings from guests wanting staycations and to reopen recreational spaces for children.

Strict safety rules apply, including the screening of all guests, limits to the number of guests in common areas and the use of disinfection.

As of Wednesday (July 15), 35 hotels had been approved to reopen.

STRONG DEMAND 

Among those who are arranging a holiday on home soil is business development manager Melvin Chew. The 31-year-old told TODAY that he booked a weekend staycation at his favourite Singapore hotel on Thursday afternoon out of spontaneity.

“My partner and I thought of it over wine last evening to ease our need to get out of the country. We talked about places we want to visit but because of the Covid-19 situation, we’re homebound.” 

Mr Chew and his partner will be staying at Fairmont Singapore — which is in Raffles City Shopping Centre — for the weekend of July 25 and 26. He has stayed there once every three months for the past 10 years.

Another hotel that has reopened, the Grand Hyatt Singapore at the Orchard Road shopping belt, said that it is fully booked for the next few weekends after a surge of interest since its booking system went live on Tuesday evening. The hotel, situated along Scotts Road, has 677 rooms and suites.

At Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel along Orchard Road, its director of sales and marketing Alvin Lim said that the property has received “more than 200 bookings” since it reopened for staycations on Monday evening.

Another popular choice is Capella Singapore, on Sentosa Island, which said that about 60 enquiries a day have poured in since it was given the approval to accept bookings on Tuesday. A spokesperson was unable to provide details on the number of bookings.

At Parkroyal on Beach Road, general manager Paolo Campillo said that the hotel, with 346 rooms, had taken more than 20 bookings just one day after reopening on July 14.

Parkroyal on Beach Road has reported strong interest from Singaporeans seeking a staycation. Photo: Parkroyal on Beach Road

“We believe this is attributed to the pent-up demand over the past couple of months due to the extended travel restrictions,” Mr Campillo said.

Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort and Spa has also received numerous enquiries since its reopening on July 10, but has capped its intake at 50 per cent of its 215 room capacity.

“This is to ensure that we comply with the Ministry of Manpower and STB’s requirements for both hotel guests and our ambassadors,” its general manager Piotr Kupiec said. The hotel is fully booked for most weekends until mid-August.

Mr Teo Joo Leng, group general manager at One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove, said that the hotel has hit an occupancy level of 80 per cent of its 26 rooms, within days of resuming staycation bookings on July 9.

PROMOTIONS TO ENTICE GUESTS

Some of the 18 hotels contacted by TODAY said that they are offering staycation packages and F&B promotions to woo customers, with offers lasting until the end of the year.

They include Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, which has introduced three packages with some discounts close to 50 per cent. Its “Blissful Escapes” package is now available from S$380++, down from its usual price of S$720++.

One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove has two staycation promotions — “Romantic Escapade” (from S$688++) and “Family Getaway” (from S$388++) — both at about half the usual price.

Dining discounts of up to 30 per cent are also being offered, with numerous hotels rolling out dining credit and gift vouchers.

As part of Marina Bay Sands’ Dine & Earn campaign, hotel guests who are Sands Rewards Lifestyle members will earn up to 20 per cent instant reward dollars — double the original 10 per cent — when they patronise Marina Bay Sands-operated celebrity chef and signature restaurants until Aug 31. The integrated resort is among the hotels approved to reopen.

Hotels are also offering flexible check-in and check-out timings, complimentary parking, spa treatments, room upgrades, and perks for families with children. For example, children under 12 can stay for free under Fairmont Singapore’s “Upsized Staycation Offer”.

The Fullerton Hotel is offering a “Work From Fullerton” staycation package where guests can utilise a guestroom for a 12-hour period as a work environment that is free from any distractions.

Parkroyal on Beach Road is offering culinary workshops, while guests at One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove can head offshore by taking up yacht-charter offers.

SAFETY MEASURES

STB’s safe management measures state that hotels must regulate entry to their premises by screening every individual entering the hotel and implementing the digital SafeEntry contact-tracing system.

Occupancy in lobby areas is limited to no more than one individual for every 10 sqm of space accessible to guests at any given time, and hotels must comply with staggered check-in and check-out timings for guests.

Other mandatory measures include controlling guests' access to shared facilities, and complying with strict disinfection measures of hotel rooms. Hotel F&B establishments, spas, sports and recreation facilities, children's clubs and function areas are also subject to safety protocols.

In the event of suspected or confirmed infected cases, hotels are required to map out response plans, including steps such as isolating confirmed cases and sealing off areas where a confirmed case has visited.

Apart from practising SG Clean practices, which are required of establishments in meeting higher standards of hygiene, the hotels have to use hospital grade disinfectant and replace buffet services with plated meals, for instance. 

One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove and Oasia Hotel Downtown are taking their safety measures up a notch by equipping employees with personal protective equipment when they enter guests’ rooms.

At Raffles Hotel, suites are kept vacant for a 24-hour window between guest departures to ensure optimum cleanliness, before they are assigned to the next occupant·

To use the gym at Oasia hotel, which is limited to two users each time, guests are required to book a time slot of an hour.

As an alternative to using the gym, which is limited to 18 people each time, guests at Grand Hyatt Singapore may request fitness mats and weights to be delivered to their room. Tools in its spa facility are also sanitised with ultraviolet light after each service.

Over at Fairmont Singapore, guests who are looking to use the spa and fitness facilities will be required to make an appointment.

Prior booking is also required for swimming pool usage at various hotels.

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Staycation hotels booking Covid-19 coronavirus

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