How COVID-19 blurred the lines between hotels and hospitals
Last week, the image of a luxury hotel in Hyderabad offering a vaccination package worth Rs 2,999 – including the dose fee – went viral on social media. Later, other images of this type were noticed, including that of The Lalit in Mumbai and Columbia Asia in Bangalore.
So much so that it prompted authorities to stand up and take notice, and soon the government issued a notice calling for action against private hospitals offering special packages for COVID-19 vaccination in conjunction with hotels. Following the directive, the hotels withdrew the offers.
Even as the nation grapples with a disastrous second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the travel and hospitality industry it is once again a difficult time – so much so that we ‘now calls’ an existential crisis’.
The industry only recently started its recovery journey after the long period of lockdown and loss of business in 2020, but was once again forced to shut down. So, they try to look for ways to adapt to the current scenario and try to settle a fraction of their growing losses.
For example, Zostel, a chain of youth hostels across the country, converted some of its properties into quarantine and isolation centers, even as it launched the Zostel bubble to offer travelers long living and digital nomads a safe environment. âThe only trip the industry has seen in recent times are those who opt for long stays to escape their COVID-stricken cities,â said Dharamveer Singh Chouhan, co-founder and CEO of Zostel.
While Zostel’s premises in Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur have been transformed into quarantine centers with multiple patient facilities, long-stay programs in places like Dalhousie, Alleppey, Mukteshwar and Vagamon are aimed at digital nomads and stranded travelers.
There are strict regulations and a nighttime curfew that guests must adhere to if they choose to stay in the Zostel bubble, Chouhan said, adding: âThese are definitely tough times and people need all the support and the advice they can get on how to weather this storm and emerge safely.
Meanwhile, Treehouse Hotels and Resorts has launched an impact initiative to help patients and families infected with Covid-19 in the Bhiwadi region with simple and nutritious meals. They have now extended this initiative to their guests or anyone who wants to help.
Anyone booking a room at one of its participating hotels not only gets a vacation, but also a chance to help with the hospitality company’s relief efforts. Each night would help feed 50 people in the community. “This initiative not only allows our customers to create happy memories, but also makes their vacations more meaningful,” said a company statement.
Jayant Singh, Managing Partner of the company, adds: âThe hospitality and tourism industry as a whole has been hit hard over the past 18 months. Our company also felt the pain, but the team wanted to work and contribute but had no direction. “
The international digital travel platform Agoda has leveraged its technological expertise to help people in India research and find alternative quarantine or stay options during this latest phase of the pandemic. For this, Agoda has organized a list of hotels from its network of accommodation partners that provide “hospi-tel” services, that is to say that accept customers positive for Covid-19 to be isolated until their recovery.
Guests who have tested positive for COVID-19 and whose vital signs are stable can now self-isolate at one of the listed hotels, more than 100 hotels located in 23 cities across India. These properties, according to Agoda, are equipped with amenities such as COVID-19 nursing support, three daily meals, and oxygen support.
âAgoda’s second initiative is aimed at those who are negative for COVID, including frontline workers who want to protect their families and live close to their jobs. With over 450 hotels in cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata, and cities like Mohali, Raipur and Nashik, to name a few, Indians returning home, traveling interstate or isolating themselves can now book their stay.
âWe hope to help by doing what we do best, using our technology to connect our partner hotels to guests and making hotel reservations quickly and stress-free through our platform,â said Tarik Fadil, Associate Vice President , Partner services, Indian subcontinent. and Northeast Asia.