Here to help: Hotels doing their bit during COVID-19 crisis
These are, as we keep being told, unprecedented times. The outbreak of COVID-19 has undoubtedly had a huge impact on the world and, as far as industry matters and economic concerns go, the travel sector has certainly felt the brunt over the last few months – but it’s not all doom and gloom! We’ve seen the best of our international community in recent weeks as travel companies and hotel brands do their utmost to remain positive and offer help where they can, both in practical and spirit-lifting ways.
Across the UK, hoteliers have been donating food and essential supplies to care homes and the needy. In the South-West, The Pig Hotels are providing free eggs and vegetables from their organic kitchen gardens to neighbouring villages, while staff at Bespoke Hotels and Hand Picked Hotels have been delivering morale-boosting cakes and cream teas to local hospitals.
In Italy, five-star Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como has cancelled a lavish 110th anniversary party in July and is instead putting the budget towards ventilators and vital medical equipment.
Transforming itself to benefit NHS workers, the five-star Mayfair hotel Claridge’s has opened its doors to the dozens of medical staff unable to live at home during the coronavirus crisis. Up to 40 doctors, nurses and other key staff will move into the luxury hotel, staying in rooms that typically start at £650 a night. Paddy McKillen, co-owner of the Maybourne Group, which runs the 208-year-old hotel, said: “Just as it has in the past world wars, Claridge’s has a duty to step up and support the people of London. Teams from all our hotels have volunteered to help and support the dedicated NHS workers at this critical time. We are for ever in their debt.”
Former Manchester United footballer Gary Neville is to open his hotels free of charge to health workers. His two Manchester hotels, Hotel Football at Old Trafford and the Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester city centre, will provide 176 beds for NHS and medical staff. Hotel staff have also been promised they won’t be made redundant or made to take unpaid leave. “It is something we are delighted to have been able to come to an agreement with,” Neville said. “It is at this moment in time that the whole of our industry needs to show solidarity, not just for our staff in these uncertain times, but for the people who need the accommodation most in the coming months.” He added: “Our staff will operate the hotel as normal when health workers are allowed to stay there without any cost whatsoever when they need isolation away from family members who might be affected.”
The Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell has closed its doors to all customers, but will stay open for NHS workers in need of free overnight accommodation.
Three hotels near Kings Cross Station are offering free stays for people stranded on the way to or from Paris via the Eurostar: The Megaro, The Gyle and The California. All are offering accommodation and hospitality without charge where required.
The Clarendon Hotel in Blackheath is still open for anyone in need of somewhere to stay on a longer-term basis, “Whether that’s to be close to local family who might not have space in their own house, or for vulnerable people currently on their own who would prefer to have other people close by while they self-isolate.” The hotel is offering a 25 percent discount across accommodation and food and drink. General manager Ken Milton said: “We know that there are many people in the local area who are now facing weeks of isolation which they may struggle with both practically and emotionally. We would welcome them to join us at The Clarendon so that they can at least be closer to other people, and where we can cook, clean and care for them – with minimal, if any, physical contact – to help them through this incredibly difficult time.”
Ian Crighton, General Manager of The Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne, Dorset, said the hotel is offering a discounted take away menu for the over-70s and NHS workers. The local Sherborne Chamber of Trade and Commerce is also offering free distribution of products and food to the elderly.
On the island of Guernsey, The Duke of Richmond Hotel has launched a complimentary no-contact dinner delivery service for elderly neighbours. The hotel is delivering meals to elderly individuals who are within walking distance and is looking to extend the service to dozens of immediate neighbours who require assistance – they just need to call the hotel before 1pm and a meal will be delivered to their doorstep that evening.
The Cary Arms & Spa in Devon has contacted all of its regular locals and close neighbours who are in the higher risk age group to tell them they can give the hotel a call for support if they need it. It has also been in touch with Rowcroft, a local cancer hospice, offering an ‘endless supply of sanitiser’ as the hotel has the ability to make it.
Macdonald Hotels is offering free daily tea, coffee, and breakfast rolls to all NHS staff for the foreseeable.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has been running a #LightsOfLove campaign where properties are encouraged to leave hotel lights on to signal hearts or a message of love during the crisis. Similarly, Accor has been running a #Heart4All campaign that has seen a number of its hotels sending messages of love and hope by lighting facades with hearts.
Helping re-purpose beds for medical use may be the most obvious possible way to help. A new tech platform launched in March can make the matchmaking process easier between lodging operators and local emergency efforts. Owners of a property can make beds or buildings available by using an online form to specify how they’re willing to help. Cloudbeds has worked with Sabre, Marriott, and RateGain and others on the effort.
Separate from that effort, CEO Rob Paterson of Best Western Hotels & Resorts Great Britain has been talking to the 260 independently owned and operated properties in the brand to see which might volunteer bed space to the UK’s National Health service.
Oyo Hotels & Homes said it would open the doors of its more than 300 hotels in the U.S. to offer free stays to doctors, nurses, and other medical first responders who are helping in the fight against coronavirus.
A mighty effort has been witnessed from the hospitality industry to help combat the stresses of the current pandemic and more stories are flooding in daily, but we want to hear more! Get in touch with Editor, Sophie Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an uplifting story or feel-good news concerning the hospitality and design industries.