In lieu of the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, hotels have left no stone unturned to ensure the safety of their guests. Here’s a round up of all that international hotel groups have done to contain the spread, and the various updates they have announced with respect to the crises. By Bayar Jain

ITC Hotels

 

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As per a statement by the Chief Operating Officer of ITC Hotels, all the properties of the luxury brand have undertaken various protocols to contain the spread of the virus. Associates have been trained in hygiene protocol, and acquainted with the relevant health and safety measures. A central cross-functional team has also been to support hotels with the relevant local and regional authorities. Sanitising, disinfecting and adhering to intensive cleaning practices is also being undertaken.

With respect to existing bookings for future arrival dates — including prepaid rates — ITC Hotels has announced complete reschedules and cancellations free of charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival. Changes to existing reservations, however, will be subject to availability and rate differences. Guests wishing to make new reservations with prepaid rates between March 17 and April 30, 2020 will be allowed to reschedule and cancel at zero cost as well, provided it is done up to 24 hours prior to the arrival date. Group bookings will differ on a case-to-case basis.

Members of the Club ITC Green Points can also breathe a sigh of relief as points that were set to expire between March 17 and April 30 will be paused for the time being. Further, all membership tier changes have also been paused temporarily.

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

 

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All properties of the Oberoi group have undertaken sanitation measures which includes regularly disinfecting touch points in public areas like door handles, elevator buttons, counter tops, railings etc; and placing sanitisers in all public spaces. Moreover, the hotel chain is closely monitoring the temperature readings of resident and non-resident guests, and are also requesting guests to fill in a declaration form during check-in to identify guests who have travelled to high risk countries in the past 14 days. Upon identification, the guests have being made to undertake a medical examination prior to check-in.

With respect to reservations, guests are being given the option of cancelling their bookings free of cost for travel dates till April 30. For those who have paid booking deposits, they can choose to either hold their reservations for a future travel date till December 31, 2020 or request a refund. All new reservations are entirely flexible, and allows for cancellations at any point.

On March 31, The Oberoi Gurgaon put out on an update on their social media handles stating that they would be giving out packed meals to local district health offices, who would then distribute it to those in need. This activity, they said, would be undertaken everyday. daily, which will be given to the local district health office to distribute to the under privileged.

Hyatt

 

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All existing reservations, including advance purchase rate reservations, made before March 13, 2020 for arrivals between March 14 and April 30, 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before the scheduled arrival. The same is valid for new bookings as well. Special exceptions are in place for advance purchase rate non-refundable reservations made directly with Hyatt on or before March 8, 2020 for arrivals before June 30, 2020. Guests holding these fully prepaid reservations can opt to receive 10,000 World of Hyatt Bonus Points compensation in lieu of, both, their stay and the offer above (if eligible). These points can then be used for future travel at any of their hotels globally.

A comprehensive guide as well as various safety measures have also been listed. Cross-functional, global response teams, including infectious diseases and occupational health experts, have also been kept on standby to provide guidance to their hotels, should the need arise.

For World of Hyatt members, they have temporarily suspended the forfeiture of points through May 31, 2020. Starting February itself, World of Hyatt extended elite tier status and award expiration dates for qualifying members residing in Asia Pacific.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

 

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In countries that are affected by government-issued travel restrictions, Hilton Hotels & Resorts have waived change fees or have offered full refunds. All reservations, even those deemed non-cancellable, can be altered or cancelled if the arrival date is before April 30, 2020. Any new bookings for the same dates will also be eligible for these policies.

Cleanliness and hygiene, too, is of priority across their hotels. Sanitising and awareness campaigns aside, all food and beverage services have also been altered in accordance to the current food safety recommendations.

With respect to the Hilton Honors Points and Status, the brand’s loyalty programme, all points that were scheduled to expire between March 16 to May 31 have been paused. Earning tier status for 2021 is set to change as well, although the same has not yet been finalised.

Accor Group

 

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In response to Covid-19, Accor has implemented rigorous cleaning and disinfection measures in accordance to the official World Health Organization (WHO) and local guidelines. This attention to safety extends to their employees as well, for whom rosters have been created depending upon occupancies. Hygiene measures like wearing masks, using sanitisers and keeping their surroundings clean and disinfected have been implemented.

With regards to bookings, guests who have booked a non-flexible rate with Accor, and are scheduled to arrive prior to April 30 can modify their reservation for future travel through December 31, 2020 without penalties. Guests travelling to or from China and South Korea through March 31, 2020 will be able to modify or cancel a valid booking, while guests travelling to Italy through April 3, 2020 will be able to do the same. Guests who have booked and planned a stay between March 10 and April 20 to UAE, Kuwait, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia can cancel or modify their stay until September 30, 2020 without penalty. Guests who have booked a non-flexible rate with Accor prior to March 16 and are scheduled to arrive prior to April 30, 2020, may modify their reservation for future travel through December 31, 2020 without penalty.

Loyalty members will be credited with 50 per cent of the status nights and points required to achieve their current status level.

Taj Hotels

 

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In light of the current situation, all Taj properties have undertaken training programmes to sensitise associates with the government protocols of Covid-19. Body temperatures are also being checked and recorded using non-invasive laser thermometers, and all surfaces are being routinely sanitised. To help guests, all Taj; Vivanta; SeleQtions; amã Stays; and Trails and Ginger hotels are waiving individual cancellation fees for hotel stays through April 30, 2020. Guests, however, must cancel the booking at least 24 hours before their stay dates for the waiver.

Additionally, The Taj Public Service Welfare Trust (TPSWT), in partnership with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, is distributing meals to staff in key hospitals and Covid-19 centres across three cities – Mumbai, Bengaluru, and New Delhi. Hospitals aside, in Mumbai TPSWT and Tata Sons are providing meals to migrant workers that are identified in coordination with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and other local authorities. Menus are designed on a daily basis by a team of chefs, without compromising on taste, nutrition, or hygiene.

Mandarin Oriental Group

 

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Those wishing to cancel their bookings for stays until April 30 at any Mandarin Oriental hotel can do so free of charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival. Changes to existing reservations, however, would be subject to availability. Individual future bookings — that do not have an advance purchase or do not comply with any special event rate policy — can be cancelled up to 24 hours prior to the arrival free of charge as well. Special event cancellations and group bookings will be evaluated on a case-to-case basis.

CGH Earth

 

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Starting March 13, CGH Earth has stopped taking any bookings from foreign nationals, and has further advised them to cut their stay short and return home. Fresh bookings have been suspended at CGH Earth’s Hotels & Resorts, Wellness Clinics, and at the Cultural Centre (David Hall) from March 17 to April 1. All Ayurvedic and Naturopathic treatments that require bodily contact have also been stopped at the moment, whereas thermal scanners have been set up at front desks to monitor the temperature of all their guests. All public spaces and facility entry points have been disinfected and sanitised as well. In house staff has also been advised to observe social distancing, maintain proper hygiene, document their temperature twice a day, report illnesses and symptoms, and cancel official staff travel.

Marriott International

 

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The international hotel chain has updated their policies to allow guests to alter their reservations with relative ease. Guests with existing individual reservations, including pre-paid reservations, are now allowed to alter or cancel their booking 24 hours prior to their arrival free of charge. However, these changes or cancellations must be made prior to April 30, 2020. Guests making new individual reservations up till the same date will be allowed to avail the same policy as well.

Guests who are already staying at any one of their properties can be assured of many hygiene and safety related steps being undertaken. This includes disinfecting all public spaces, Covid-19 awareness training for staff, standby 24/7 regional and corporate teams among others.

Marriott Bonvoy members, their guest loyalty program, has also paused point expiration until August 31, 2020 allowing members ample time to redeem their points. Suite Night Awards (SNAs)  expiration dates have also been extended by one year to December 31, 2021. Lastly, Members who currently have an active Free Night Award (FNA) expiring in 2020 as part of their credit card benefit, annual choice benefit, promotions or travel package will be able to use it through January 31, 2021.

Airbnb

 

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Airbnb has updated its Extenuating Circumstances policy, which means that guests who made reservations before March 14 for stays beginning anytime on or before May 31, can cancel the reservation and get a full refund or a travel credit. Moreover, Airbnb will pay their hosts 25% of what they would have normally received through their cancellation policy. This applies retroactively to all COVID-19 related cancellations from March 14 to May 31. Superhosts who rent out their home and need help paying for mortgage can avail help via the newly created USD 10 million Superhost Relief Fund. Keeping the tonality of familiar comfort signature to Airbnb, previous guests can even send financial support to hosts they’ve stayed with.  

Related: If You’re Travelling During Coronavirus, These Are All The Travel Advisories You Need To Be Aware Of