While many summer plans have been thwarted by the pandemic, the desire to escape from home and work has not lessened.
With a rising sense of ‘burnout’ being felt across all demographics and staycation travel searches increasing by 103% since the start of the year, it is clear that people are seeking a break from the stress of working from home, supporting families and staying safe. This can help reduce stress, boost happiness and life satisfaction, and give people a sense of peace and wellbeing during one of the most challenging times in our history.
So, for many of us, it is time for a well-earned holiday and hotels across the UK can play a key role in maximising their guests’ experience, allowing them the break from reality they deserve. Hotels provide a safe escape, the opportunity to be lost in their rich history, a chance to explore the great outdoors, and the likelihood of some unforgettable memories.
A safe escape
Encouraging people to feel comfortable is the first step to creating the ultimate retreat experience during this time. Hotels have put in place a variety of measures to maximise safety, including one-way footfall systems and floor markings, to facilitate social distancing.
Larger hotel chains are launching specific programmes. One example is Spanish hotel group NH hotel. Its ‘Feel Safe at NH’ Initiative and FASTPASS a combination of three new digital services, Online Check-in, Choose your room, and Online Check-out boost its online and digital services. Moreover, enhanced cleaning practices are a simple but effective solution in ensuring guests feel at ease in their surroundings. From increased disinfecting of ‘high-touch areas’, such as bathrooms, elevator buttons and remote controls, to making hand sanitizer stations and disposable gloves readily available in public areas.
Get lost in the history
Given there are an overwhelming number of British Heritage and other historic hotels in the UK, making the most of a hotel’s character and history is an excellent way of delivering the ‘escape’ for which guests are searching. For instance, guests can enjoy the island’s wild spirit which dates back as far as the late 1920s, and the Burgh Island the team enjoy sharing the stories of historic guests, such as Winston Churchill, Josephine Baker and Agatha Christie.
Other steps hotels can take include tailored events or local partnerships to tap into the cultural appeal of the local area. Indeed, research has shown that cultural events held by hotels, as opposed to local authorities, attract the majority of guests, emphasising the high demand for this type of activity.
Explore the great outdoors
With 55% of millennials traveling to relax from ordinary life, outdoor spaces and gardens have become more important during a period where guests want to safely socially distance. The increased space outdoors allows more guests to enjoy seating and dining within the recommended six-foot distance between individuals, while also providing them with valuable experience of the beautiful scenery and grounds many UK hotels offer.
Consequently, these areas facilitate the relief from stress that characterise of a great escape. Investing in increased outdoor seating and dining areas and offering outdoor lunches or teas can help guests to relax in confidence, dispelling COVID-related concerns.
An experience, not just a stay
Finally, and most importantly, the memorable experiences hotels offer give guests the ultimate escape from their normal lives. Research has shown that the unique and diverse experiences characteristic of travelling produce memories that shape our personality. Indeed, 40% of Brits have already taken a trip that has changed them as a person.
Capitalising on this is, therefore, of great importance. For example, at Burgh Island we offer trails across the island and walking maps for the coastline. Partnering with local tradespeople to offer outdoor artistry classes, foraging and fishing are other ways to create unforgettable moments that keep guests returning while forging stronger relationships with the surrounding communities. It all makes for an experience that we hope our guests will never forget…
By Giles Fuchs, owner of Burgh Island Hotel