Virtual yoga and fitness, happy hours and mindfulness sessions all in the comfort of your hotel room? These are just some of the creative spins Hong Kong hoteliers have rolled out for returning residents serving their 21-day quarantines.
Currently, visitors travelling from locations outside of mainland China must quarantine at one of the 36 approved hotels under Hong Kong's Designated Hotel Scheme.
“[Returnees] can make bookings of the designated quarantine hotels through various channels (including the hotel’s official website and travel agencies)”, said the official government statement.
The Hong Kong government’s attempt to quash the city’s fourth Covid-19 wave had ruffled the features of some hotel members, when it announced on 11 December the 36 exclusive hotels approved to accept quarantine guests between 22 December and 19 February.
In response, hotels on the approved list have not only crafted enticing packages to reel returning residents in, but also racked their brains for more ideas since the government had extended the compulsory quarantine from 14 days to 21 days.
Playing up in-room fun
Among the government-approved hotels for quarantine stays, Landmark Mandarin Oriental is among the upscale options, with prices reaching up to HK$50,000 (US$6,448) per night. The hotel is offering a 21-day accommodation package which includes a full-board meal plan and in-room access to wellness experiences.
“Our culinary team has created a menu which ensures not only a balanced diet, but variety as well”, said a spokesperson from the hotel. “Our wellness team has developed a range of yoga and fitness experiences that can be delivered via livestream so that guests can participate from their room or suite."
Meanwhile, Shangri-La’s Kerry Hotel is also focusing on in-room entertainment with the help of technology. “We have created a programme of fun activities to engage with our guests through Zoom and other social media channels”, a hotel spokesperson told Travel Weekly Asia. These activities include fitness and cooking classes, fun and virtually interactive games and inspiring videos to keep their mind and body occupied. The hotel has been working closely with the Centre for Health Protection to ensure all measures are in place during guests’ stays.
Newly-opened Four Points by Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung on Lantau is also part of the scheme and is offering returning residents daily full-board meals, in-room recreational gadgets to unwind, access to PressReader and laundry cleansing liquid in its quarantine packages.
Ovolo Group’s Quarantine Concierge package was successfully implemented across all its properties, yet only Mojo Nomad made the quarantine list. The government-approved Aberdeen hotel continues to offer the package for its 21-day quarantine guests, with perks including daily breakfast, barista-made coffee and happy hours.
“From the moment we conceived this package [Quarantine Concierge], our principal goal was to create a stay that was exciting, accommodating, and most of all comforting”, said Girish Jhunjhnuwala, founder of Ovolo Group.
“We were determined to make sure the 14 days, now 21, would fly right by. From mindfulness kits to fitness gear to daily happy hour, guests are not short of activities to keep them busy."
Rooms have since been converted to one-bedroom suites, allowing guests more space to exercise and walk around in, added Jhunjhnuwala. The hotel has implemented supercharge Wi-Fi and weekly zoom sessions with their room neighbours. “We've seen huge enthusiasm for staying fit and active within the rooms."
Surprises are also a hit for guests. “We like to delight our guests with surprises, which our hotel general managers have done for guests, from sending floor-to-floor happy hour trolleys to mid-day snacks”, said Jhunjhnuwala.
Extended quarantine, extended setbacks
Despite the creative packages to make guest’ stays more bearable over the 21-day isolation, there has been a notable setback in bookings since the extended quarantine announcement, due to a number of factors.
“Since quarantine got lifted to 21 days, people are reconsidering their travel plans”, Tim Alpe, Ovolo Group’s COO remarked. “That being said, we envision a little pick up after CNY for all returning Hong Kongers."
The ban on incoming flights from Britain has also affected hotel bookings. “A large portion of arrivals into Hong Kong have been from the United Kingdom, but with flight bans coinciding with the extended 21-day quarantine, it has resulted in a double dip in quarantine appetite”, added Jhunjhnuwala.
He noted that more popular bookings seemed to lean towards corner rooms and rooms with a view, at both Ovolo Southside and Ovolo Central when they were able to accept guests.
“At Mojo Nomad, our harbour view rooms have been in very high demand due to the beautiful view, allowing guests to meditate at sunrise and sunset every day. Our rooms also have windows that guests can open — a huge plus for many — allowing guests to air out their rooms and breathe in the crisp, fresh, winter air."
Price undoubtedly also affected guests’ choice in room type, particularly at Kerry Hotel. “We noticed that many guests opt for the rooms with lower rates, so our balcony rooms don’t necessarily sell better,” said a spokesperson. The hotel welcomes local residents coming back from abroad and has been seeing a “steady booking rate at the moment”.
There are currently 36 hotels on the official designated hotel list, however, there is no update on increasing the supply as of yet.