Planning travel now can provide security for hotels and savings for you.
Across the globe, hotels are stepping up to help local governments, healthcare workers and those suffering from COVID-19. Some have become hospitals. (The Israeli hotel group Dan Hotels has converted two hotels: Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama and the Dan Jerusalem into coronavirus quarantine and recovery hospitals.) Others are providing housing and food to doctors and nurses. Rosewood Miramar Beach has served 1,500 meals to essential personnel throughout Santa Barbara–the effort is part of Rosewood Raise, Rosewood Hotel Group’s brand-wide relief initiative. If you’re wondering how you can, in turn, help hotels weather this period of economic uncertainty and plan for future travel, here are some ideas:
Buy a Hotel Bond or Gift Card
Some hotels have begun offering bonds. Similar to a treasury savings bond, the idea is to purchase a hotel bond today that can be redeemed later. Participating hotels in the Buy Now, Stay Later initiative include Eastwind Hotel & Bar in the Catskills, Hotel California in Palm Springs, and Casa Violeta in Tulum and many others. Each bond will be billed at $100 and in 60 days, valued at $150.
As with any hotel incentive program, make sure to read the fine print. Guests can buy multiple bonds for each hotel on the Buy Now, Stay Later website through August 31, 2020, but individual hotels will determine when the bonds can be redeemed. Check with the hotel before booking for specific terms and conditions.
If you want to support a hotel in the future that doesn’t have a bond program, ask to purchase a gift card. The website Hotel Credits is offering a limited number of $300 gift certificates for $200 and $400 gift certificates for $300 at boutique hotel properties around the world. Some standouts include Acre in Los Cabos and Flemings Mayfair in London.
Some hotels are offering an added-value incentive when you buy a gift certificate, such as dining credits. Others are donating a portion of proceeds to furloughed staff. The 42-year-old Inn at Little Washington, famous for its three-star Michelin restaurant, is offering gift certificates up to $5,000 and donating 100 percent to an employee relief fund.
Book Summer and Fall Vacations Now with No Risk
Many major hotel brands are relaxing their cancellation policies. Marriott will allow guests making reservations for future travel between now and April 30, 2020, including pre-paid rate reservations, to change or cancel reservations at no charge up to 24 hours before the scheduled arrival date.
For reservations booked between March 13, 2020 and April 30, 2020 for stays through September 30, 2020, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has implemented a 24-hour cancellation policy with no fees. For reservations booked prior to March 13, 2020, guests can rebook without a fee for up to 12 months. Rosewood will apply any deposits to future reservations.
Make sure to check with the hotel or vacation rental you plan to book for the latest cancellation policy. Things are changing daily and not everyone is being flexible. Airbnb’s host cancellation policies will apply as usual to reservations made after March 14, 2020.
Travel Domestically and Stay in Several Spots
When it is safe to travel again, consider doing several staycations rather than one long stay or a road trip. If you’ve always wanted to explore California’s Central Coast do a wine country getaway at the storybook Hotel Cheval, which has implemented a new flexible cancellation policy, before heading to the coast. The retro-chic Cambria Beach Lodge has bikes and a prime location on Moonstone Beach. As mentioned above, consider purchasing a gift card now to give small hotels an influx of much-needed cash.
Support Independently Owned Properties When Possible
The coronavirus is devastating small businesses across the country. According to David Bowd, the CEO of Salt Hotels which includes The Asbury Hotel and Asbury Ocean Club in Asbury Park, NJ, independently owned hotels–who operate on smaller margins than hotel chains–will need a lot of support once travel resumes. “Hotels like ours operate on a more personal level than corporate brands and employ many businesses and people in the community, which in turn have a great impact on how communities come out of this,” says Bowd. Bowd says if you had a trip that was canceled because of a closure, try not to ask for a refund. Instead, he recommends moving your stay. “It may seem small but it can make a significant difference,” he adds.
Support GoFundMe Pages for Hospitality Workers
In Chicago, the Robey hotel has established a GoFundMe page for raising money for laid-off employees. A $500 donation includes a one-night stay and a $100 food and beverage credit for use in the hotel’s restaurants and bars; a $1,000 donation covers a two-night stay and a $250 food and beverage credit. Room rates the Robey start around $240.
Ace Hotels has set up the Ace Family Fund to support employees impacted by the temporary suspension of operations at its hotels, restaurants, bars and venues. Donations can be made in any increment.