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How to staycay in the new normal

As Singapore opens up after months of lockdown, hotels are eagerly welcoming domestic bookings. But what should we expect from a pandemic hotel break? asks Gayatri Bhaumik.

Face masks by the pool are just one new addition to these pandemic travel times.

It goes without saying that to ensure their guests’ safety, hotels are stepping up their cleaning game and finding creative ways to politely enforce local social distancing rules.

Temperature checks, health declarations, and personal care kits are now all part of the Singapore staycation holiday. Inevitably though, some of the covid-19 protocols are resulting in a more invasive guest experience (designated pool times, anyone?). But having said that, properties are working hard to ensure families have a fun stay.

Wouter de Graaf, General Manager of Sofitel Singapore City Centre, agrees that the guest experience is at the heart of everything the hotel does, even while implementing pandemic protocols.

“The pandemic measures issued by the local authorities move quickly and sometimes come at short notice… but we still strive for excellent service and won’t compromise on guest experience as we navigate the change,” he says.

Luckily, guests have mostly been understanding about the ‘new normal’. “Guests have, on the whole, been extremely cooperative and fully understand that the new protocols are in place to ensure they have a fabulous, safe stay,” says Fernando Gidaja, general manager of Capella Singapore.

The luxurious Capella Singapore property has enhanced cleaning protocols that have been developed in partnership with international hygiene specialists, Ecolab and Diversey. All public spaces and high-touch surfaces are thoroughly (and regularly) cleaned, and luggage is sanitised on arrival. The property has been awarded the local SG Clean certification.

Social distancing is carefully enforced, with all public spaces reconfigured to allow more space between guests. The gym requires advanced reservations for maximum two-hour sessions, and only four guests are allowed at once.

Similarly, only a handful of guests are allowed at the pools at any time and pool-time is limited to just two hours. Additionally, the Auriga Spa is offering ‘light-touch’ treatments, like crystal healing and sound therapy.

Capella Singapore’s dining outlets follow Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point guidelines for food prep and hygiene; dry and fresh produce is disinfected and prepped outside the kitchen before being stored. Plus, all kitchen utensils are kept in UV boxes to ensure a thorough cleaning.

Sands SkyPark Infinity Pool now allots one-hour time slots to guests.

Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands is also an SG Clean-certified hotel. Electrostatic sprayers are used in rooms and public spaces, laundry is washed at 70 degrees and air quality has been improved with increased fresh air flow where possible and the installation of hospital-grade High Efficiency Particulate Air filters.

Groups must be kept under five people and check-in and check-out times are also staggered to reduce crowds. In fact, reservations are becoming a key part of the hotel experience. Fancy taking a dip in that famous pool? You’ll have to register your interest through your phone to be allotted a one-hour time slot.

The colonial-era Raffles Singapore has a long and storied tradition of excellence. It reemerged gleaming in mid-2019 after an extensive two-year renovation and now, the hotel is reinventing itself again for the covid-19 era.

“It’s the unwavering obligation of Raffles Singapore to respond to the current pandemic with clear priorities to protect the legacy of the hotel, our colleagues, and our guests,” says general manager Christian Westbeld.

A Raffles Personal Care Kit is offered to guests at check-in.

“Since April 2020, Raffles Singapore has had SG Clean certification. At the same time, the property also received the ALLSafe certification introduced by Accor, which consists of safe and secure guidelines to steer the group through these tumultuous times.”

Contactless check-in and check-out and cashless payments are de rigueur, as are digital menus in the restaurants and bars and appointments for the Raffles Spa, fitness centre and pool. Guests receive curated personal care kits at check-in and have access to medical professionals or telemedicine appointments if necessary.

At Sofitel Singapore City Centre, guests will notice numerous changes, all in the name of keeping them safe during the pandemic.

“For guests who have stayed with us before, they’ll notice that the rooms look very different,” says de Graaf. “Unfortunately, for now, we have to keep amenities to a minimum so we can ensure everything is sanitary, but we’re happy to provide anything they need on request.”

Contactless service is the norm here, so although luggage delivery, in-room dining, and laundry services are still provided, staff will not be able to bring items into the room as was standard practice in pre-pandemic times. Like most other Singapore hotels, recreation facilities here can only be accessed with a reservation. The pool is available for one-and-a-half hour appointments; the SoFit gym can be booked for 45-minute sessions.

W Singapore - Sentosa Cove is also a certified SG Clean hotel. As well as staggered check-in and check-out times, guests can also complete formalities through the Marriott Bonvoy app – which can also be used to request contactless services.

To ensure social distancing, guests here are required to make reservations – there are even three time slots for breakfast – and all meals are ordered from a la carte menus and delivered to the table.

Want to use the facilities? You’ll have to make a reservation through the hotel’s Whatever/Whenever team, first. To limit crowding, a maximum of ten guests are allowed at the FIT gym and AWAY spa at any one time; you can also book two-hour time slots at the WET pool.

Singapore hotels have certainly stepped up to the plate, now all that’s left to do is go forth and enjoy a safe stay.


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