We don’t know if we should be more afraid of the coronavirus itself or the virality of the news around it! Nevertheless, it is understandable that people are worried and have doubts about whether this is a good time to travel. As members of the hospitality community, we thought we’d address some of these questions, especially those that have been raised by many of our guests. Questions like:
“How do you make sure the food at your property isn’t contaminated?”
“Have the guests from the previous stay had any illnesses?”
“Is your housekeeping staff well-groomed and maintaining hygiene?”
All valid questions.
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has infected over 98,000 people worldwide. While these concerns are justified, can we say the same for the mass hysteria that’s following us on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and newspapers?
What this means is that if you’re careful and follow the right hygienic routines, your travel plans can, and should, stay intact. And just to make sure you have a super-duper trip, we have some additional suggestions for you.
Choose your destination wisely
A question we get asked a lot is “Where should we stay at a time like this?” Avoid international or crowded destinations. This is a great time to explore the silent corners of India. And if the coronavirus had a silver lining, it’d be the awesome bargains it’s bringing even at premium destinations! So, head to the frosty folds of the Himalayas, the lush forests of the Sahyadris, or the rolling dunes of the Thar Desert if you are looking for something unique.
With most cases recorded in tourist-favourite areas, it’s no surprise that lesser-known, offbeat destinations are seeing a surge of inquires. Think a drive along the Konkan coast, exploring the backwaters of Udupi and cocooning yourself in a coffee estate instead!
Take the road less travelled
Avoid airports and railway stations. They’re crowded and that means higher chances of being exposed to the virus. Both airports and train stations are hubs where strangers converge. When you’re travelling it’s best to eliminate the risk altogether – book a chartered jet 😉 or speedboat to reach your destination. Or, better still, drive your family to a destination near Mumbai in your own car. When was the last time you took a road trip anyway?
Ditch the hotel for a home
Ditch the hotel. When you stay at a hotel, you are sharing your space with travellers from around the world. They’re sitting in the same lobby as you are, eating in the same restaurant, and taking dips in the same pool. Instead, choose private homes where you control the space around you. In fact, this is the perfect time for a Do-Nothing vacation! At SaffronStays home, the only other people around you will be caretakers and cooks. Staff members have also been told to escalate any signs of illness to management, be it staff or guests.
Challenge the norms, sometimes
While global companies need to take a more holistic approach for their employees based across geographies, for start-ups and SMEs on India, the rules are negligent. With no shackles of global guidelines, travel bans and diktats will never arise. In fact, heading out for week-long workations might be the brightest idea to pitch to your bosses, right now. For corporates that have shied away from hotels, how about private spaces that are not shared by hundreds of other business and leisure travellers. As Darwin said, “It’s not the smartest that survives, but the one who adapts fastest”.
Eat right, eat fresh
If possible, avoid eating outside food. In fact, just like the olden times, carry your own food while travelling. Now’s not a good time to eat raw or unrefrigerated food, given the health scare. So while summer vacations are synonymous to ice creams and cold drinks, it’s wise to switch to warm drinks and hot beverages. We have chefs in every home to make you hot, healthy, and freshly cooked meals and views that deserve a piping hot adrak wali chai.
Entertainment in the time of virus
Everyone is bound to skip the weekly matinee; after all, you’ll be in an enclosed spaced with unknown individuals! While OTT platforms are already seeing a rise of subscribers, we’ve seen queries for homes with mini theatres and home theatres systems steadily rise. You know your kids and friends are going to hit a ceiling of boredom if they’re holed up at home in lieu of a scare, so it’s advisable to head out for a bit yourself.
All said and done, many of you may still not wish to travel at sensitive times like these. All leading airlines are allowing cancellation or rescheduling at no extra costs. At SaffronStays, we have also reworked our policies to account for this extraordinary situation.
Tejas and Deven Parulekar