Luxury island Retreats

March 06, 2021 | 11:26
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Although the ghost of COVID-19 is still wandering around the world, Vietnam’s luxury tourism and hospitality sectors seem to be preparing their privacy retreats for the return of travellers in the new normal.
luxury island retreats
Photo: Banyan Tree Resort Lang Co

I have checked in the Banyan Tree Resort in the central coast district of Lang Co a day after COVID-19 returned to Hai Duong, Hanoi, and Quang Ninh. These days, I am rather familiar with the image of hotel staff in facemasks, handing thermometers to those who enter the premises, but it still feels a bit strange.

Behind the reception, only one employee quickly scans and returns ID cards and passports, but no paper is printed, and the guests are asked to scan a QR code to confirm and review the resort’s services and fill in their special requirements.

If this had occurred two years ago, I would have seen it as lacking in warmth. But now COVID-19 changed my view.

Amid the pandemic, my family and I feel fully satisfied when things can happen as contactless as much as possible, with in-room directories and restaurant menus replaced with digital options for convenient access on personal devices. Check-in and check-out and experiences such as personal health and fitness classes and cooking sessions may be conducted in-room to enable a privacy-oriented holiday.

In response to the pandemic, most 4- and 5-star resorts around the country implemented an array of ongoing health, safety, and hygiene measures including body temperature checks, the provision of hand sanitisers, spacious set-ups to ensure physical distancing, continuous disinfection of common guest and staff areas as well as frequent touchpoints such as door handles and dining surfaces, and deep cleaning of guest rooms.

That everything can be ordered with a call or a click without close contact first irritated us but then realised that it creates a world of privacy for our family to enjoy the many luxurious services and facilities and made the trip a great private retreat.

Digital advances

As contactless methods remain the best choice for hoteliers to keep guests and staff safe, many of them launched mobile apps to enable contactless communication with guests and staff in real-time.

Herbert Laubichler-Pichler, general manager at Alma Resort – one of the newcomers applying mobile apps – shared, “Such apps are a game-changer for Vietnam’s hospitality landscape. There is no facet of our lives that remains untouched by this pandemic and under a new normal, this app is an effective and contactless way to connect with guests and staff. I believe it’ll soon be incumbent for 5-star resorts across Vietnam to offer the same technology.”

Alma has muscled its way into the realm of mobile app technology alongside predominantly major global hotel brands. Guests are now required to fill in a health declaration using a QR code and are equipped with an electronic COVID-19 information kit upon check-in.

In preparation for the return of travellers, Banyan Tree Group is also committed to going the extra mile to ensure a safe sanctuary for both associates and guests.

Partnering with Bureau Veritas to co-develop a proprietary label and set of protocols, the group has launched the SafeSanctuary, an integrated health and well-being programme . This has been rolled out progressively since June 2020 throughout all their properties.

With an easy download on Android, IOS, Windows, and Amazon devices, apps like those of Alma, Banyan Tree, Angsana, and InterContinental offer menus, promotions, and vouchers as well as livestreams, information about events, and health and safety tips to provide a useful experience for all travellers.

Promising days

The travel industry is seeing a spike in demand as some countries try to lift COVID-19 restrictions, and plans are made for the forming of a global travel taskforce for the reopening of travel. Some travel companies already report a surge in bookings, as the appearance of COVID-19 vaccines brings new hope to the travel industry worldwide.

In Vietnam, besides receiving huge batches of imported doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, the country is pushing ahead with locally-made vaccine trials and production.

“With its strict prevention methods, Vietnam is ready for the added value of the vaccines. I believe that people can soon travel freely and that the tourism industry will quickly return to satisfy all expectations of domestic and international travellers,” said Tra My, tour operator of Amazing Tour. My’s company received three times as many bookings for luxury holidays in Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Danang, Hoi An, and Lang Co than for any other destinations.

Whether you plan to leave your everyday life behind for a while or wish to live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies, the resorts and hoteliers are ready to meet the increasing demands on travel and staycation at safe and luxury private island retreats and getaways in Vietnam.

From the north to the south, both domestic and international hotel operators have quickly changed their performances and services to meet the requirements of safe and sound tourism in a new normal.

By Nhat Ha

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