Trying times: Hospitality industry struggles for survival amid COVID lockdown

With travel coming to a halt due to lockdown, the already-struggling hospitality industry is working out ways to stay afloat.

Published: 15th May 2021 12:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th May 2021 12:25 AM   |  A+A-

Hotel lockdown, Coronavirus lockdown

Representational image (Express Illustration| Tapas Ranjan)

Express News Service

The hospitality sector had a respite of around three-four months in between periods of high COVID caseloads - September-October last year and March-present. It is back to square one, under lockdown and reeling from losses.

JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru, which had around 85-90 per cent occupancy before the pandemic struck, now finds the situation almost reversed. "The hospitality sector has been one of the worst-hit ones this time. Occupancy is currently just 10 per cent. Guests are mostly people who are in transit, those who had to extend their stay due to the lockdown, or those wanting to isolate themselves for any travel reason," says Yash Bareria, head of sales. 

ITC Hotels is also facing a similar situation, says Amaan Kidwai, general manager, ITC Gardenia. "Room occupancy has come down drastically. During this lockdown, hotels are also one of the categories that should be completely closed. But currently we have some guests who had to extend their stay due to lockdown," says Kidwai, adding that to create a safety bubble, 100 of their staff members are also staying in the hotel to reduce outside contact.

In order to keep themselves afloat, hotels are also offering takeaway food. Somnath Mukherjee, area director, Karnataka, for Taj Hotels, says they are focusing on re-connecting with guests. "We have recently introduced Innergise, a special menu featuring fresh and natural meals packed with antioxidants and immunity-boosting superfoods," says Mukherjee, adding that the menu is priced at Rs 1500. 

Apart from that, Mukherjee says their Yeshwantpur branch is offering quarantine rooms for asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID patients, in collaboration with Columbia Asia and People Tree Hospitals.

"Taj Yeshwantpur provides all meals within prescribed protocols. Pre-packed meals are placed outside the room door in disposable containers. Used containers and cutlery is discarded by guests in the dedicated dustbins," says Mukherjee, adding that in case the patient turns critical they are shifted to a hospital facility that has full care.

Hotels are also offering isolation packages for people who tested negative but need to isolate for travel reasons or if they are primary contacts etc. Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park, is one such hotel. Its manager, Sushma Khichar, says, the guest needs to carry a negative RT-PCR report to avail of the facility. "The package comprises all meals delivered to the room. Guests are also provided high-speed internet to help them work or stay entertained in isolation," says Khichar. 

The Den Bengaluru in Whitefield, which also offers similar packages, has set up a separate team for such services. Vinesh Gupta, general manager, says, "We have allotted around 7-8 per cent of our rooms to this service. These rooms have a separate air flow and a separate task team for this package, keeping the safety of other guests in mind."


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