BENGALURU: This year has seen the travel industry being affected like never before. Jokes on how plans would now involve frequent trips to the living room and back, with long layovers in the kitchen, have been doing the rounds for weeks now. With holiday plans nowhere in sight, star hotels are now looking forward to a rise in staycations. “There’s been a pent-up demand from guests who want to shake of lockdown drudgery,” says Kunal Chauhan, general manager, Leela Palace Bengaluru, which has received queries from 100 people since May 10.
Recently, Ritz-Carlton Bangalore launched a new offer, beginning at `12,500 per day for double occupancy in a deluxe room, breakfast and a five-course meal with wine. “People are looking to visit a luxury hotel, which they are confident will have safety measures,” the hotel said in a statement. Case in point, Pramod Nanjareddy, whose plans to celebrate his 12th wedding anniversary with a getaway to Coorg or Chikmagalur were cancelled due to the pandemic. Tired after 40 days of being indoors, Nanjareddy and his wife, Sneha Chandrashekar, decided to check into The Den for a night last month.
We didn’t have access to the spa, gym or pool but we got to spend time on their green lawns, which was a welcome change,” says the entrepreneur. Agrees interior designer Kavyashree Rajashekar, who also opted for a staycation with her cousins at the same hotel some days later. “It was the closest I could get to travelling in these times,” she says.
Vinesh Gupta, GM of the hotel, says 40-45 couples checked in for staycation in one month alone, opting for the `5,999 package with bed and breakfast. “I would see guests working on their laptops in the garden. I think some of them were trying to make the best of remote working options before offices reopen,” says Gupta. Since gyms and pools are barred from reopening, hotel staff is bringing in different experiential activities to lure guests. For example, at the Den, you can have a candle-light dinner in your room. The Ritz-Carlton will offer cooking classes with chefs and an art walk of over 400 pieces in the hotel. At Leela Palace, guests can look forward to a special cocktail hour in the evenings, where the menu includes immunity-boosting drinks.
Since some hotels also double as quarantine centres, safety norms have been escalated. The Leela Palace Bengaluru has started its process for COVID compliance from Bureau Veritas. “The quarantined guests are on a different floor. Staffers attend to them in a PPE suit. We ensure that the chance of cross-contamination is near nil,” adds Chauhan. In a bid to facilitate post-lockdown travel, Marriott International announced a deal at their over 90 hotels across India and south Asia, offering discounts for bookings made this month for stay up to June 30, 2021.