How to enjoy a safe stay in a vacation resort during COVID times

At the time of writing this post, the second wave of COVID-19 has halted travel plans for holiday goers, adventurers, exchange students, business travelers and digital nomads from every continent, and worst of all, it has severely hindered the recovery of the tourism industry, which seemed to be bouncing back in the last weeks of summer. In line with the safety initiatives started by renowned and small hotel chains, vacation resorts are going the extra mile and cooperating with health authorities to ensure travelers can have a very low or zero-risk stay, provided that the ever-changing regulations for each region allow and border restrictions and closures are lifted. Those lucky enough to finally enjoy their retreat in a beach resort these days, though, will need a little bit more patience than usual and will probably be required to sacrifice part of their own comfort for the sake of the collective wellbeing. If you are planning to take a leisure trip soon, check coronavirus updates and entry requirements for your destination on a daily basis and be ready to abide by the testing and quarantine rules that might be in effect, unless your country has a “travel corridor” agreement with the one you are travelling to.

What is a tourist corridor or bubble?

A travel corridor or tourist bubble allows travelers from different regions or countries which have reached substantially low COVID-19 infection rates to cross borders without any quarantine or self-isolation requirements. This occurs when countries demonstrate an exceptionally effective management of the pandemic and so they are deemed as low-risk destinations by the international community. Although before the second wave hit the number of regions belonging to travel corridors was rapidly increasing, today’s panorama is less encouraging, with many bans and border closures going back into effect. That is why compliance with the coronavirus prevention measures when we go on vacation is vital to reverse the situation.

Covid prevention measures for tourists

Before travelling

As a tourist who is going to take a holiday trip to a foreign country, it is your responsibility to stay fully and accurately informed of the online and physical forms your will be required to complete and submit before travelling as well as after landing at your destination: health surveillance forms, proof of a negative covid test (taken within the previous 48 hours), digital registration of personal and contact info, medical insurance and travel deposits that will cover potential PCR tests, quarantine hotel stays or hospitalization are some common requests these months.

Upon arrival at destination airport

When you land in the airport and before commuting to the tourist resort where you have made a reservation, you may be asked to undergo a temperature check, produce printed documentation as proof of the requirements detailed above, remain quarantined for a certain period either at a designated hotel or in a resort at your own expense or stay reachable at all times.

Upon arrival at the vacation resort

If you have been on holiday abroad in recent years before the coronavirus outbreak, you will notice how new procedures are now part of the welcome routine at hotels and tourist resorts. To start with, you will be tested for fever before being granted admission to the facilities, and this is likely to happen not only before checking in but also every day when you return. Likewise, staff will meticulously disinfect your shoes and luggage, and will check that you wear your face mask properly and queue up maintaining the mandatory physical distance. Although the reception clerks are likely to assist behind plexiglass barriers, it is still recommended that you download the hotel chain mobile app, using this means to interact with them or request services and assistance digitally as much as you can.

How to avoid potential risks of getting COVID while at a beach resort

As stated at the beginning of this post, bear in mind that you your next vacation will require a little bit more of extra patience and respect towards others than before. In some places, you may even have to agree to take PCR tests regularly throughout your stay, or be asked to stay in our room until the results are ready. For your peace of mind, we recommend that you opt out of maid service, thus knowing that you and your travel companions are the only ones entering your space. Contrary to that, communal zones like the onsite gyms, restaurants, wellness centers and swimming pools will surely have restricted entry, so book in advance if you can and strictly abide by all additional hygiene and social distancing rules.

Vacationing in resorts around the world

Perhaps you have decided to go on vacation in the near future or as soon as travel restrictions allow, yet you do not know which destination to choose. For some travel inspiration, we kindly invite you to read our posts about vacationing in Isla Mujeres (Quintan Roo, Mexico), staying at an all-inclusive resort in Mallorca (Spain), getting lost in the Nha Trang beaches of Vietnam or enjoying the holiday hotels of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. We sincerely hope that you can take your dream trip soon, please take care of yourself and your loved ones and stay safe!

Characteristics of a COVID-free certified hotel

Based on the assumption that there is no such thing as zero risk when it comes to assessing something as unpredictable as an unknown disease, it goes without saying that “COVID-free” is not an accurate denomination. Yet the world is in need of some kind of guarantee that allows people to travel again and stay in hotels without fear of falling ill with COVID19.

During the recent months, the global Coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives, and the way we travel will probably never be the same. However, a well-defined set of safety and hygiene measures and social distancing protocols might not only help save the tourism industry but even enhance the entire hospitality experience, provided that both customers and employees abide by the rules.

Associations in the tourism and travel industry from all over the world have been working to develop a thorough proposal for a COVID-free certification for hotels which must be endorsed by competent international authorities. If it gets approval, the establishments that meet the requirements and are capable of strictly following the protocols will be certified as “COVID-free hotels”, in a bid to regain customer loyalty and give peace of mind to those who do not trust public spaces anymore.

What are the distinguishing features of “COVID-free hotels”?

-Hygiene and disinfection procedures will be reinforced and will comply with sanitary guidelines already adopted by hotel chains in Asia. The goal is for “COVID-free hotels” to become virtually aseptic spaces, which accounts for the fact that many of the organizations involved in developing the proposal have turned to scientific and medical entities to design an advanced plan never applied before except for in hospitals and high-risk areas.

Cleaning and safety

-Electrostatic sprayers containing hospital-grade disinfectant will be used to clean rooms, lobbies, fitness centres, the dining area where breakfast is normally served and restaurants inside the facilities on a daily basis, so as to eliminate any remote possibility of being exposed to Coronavirus.

Front desk staff will assist guests if needed from behind a Plexiglass panel for the safety of both parties.

-All members of the staff will wear protective masks and gloves.

Social distancing in hotels

-The communal zones will ideally have almost no furniture: this would allow for more empty space for customers to move freely without breaking social distancing.

-The signs on the floors that we have already become familiar with at airports, supermarkets and official institutions, which measure the mandatory distance between one person and another, will undoubtedly be present in “COVID-free hotels”.

-Other proposed measures will aim at avoiding human interaction, and might include digital check-in and check-out via smartphone applications or an onsite kiosk. Room service orders, as well as requests for other extras and amenities will equally be available through digital means. All orders and requested services will be delivered without coming into contact with guests, that is, by leaving food at the door for them to pick it up or by collecting laundry previously left outside the room.

Covid-free certifications and labels

If you have plans to go on vacation this summer, or if you need to go back to a job position that implies travelling, it is likely that you are concerned about Coronavirus. Anxiety and travel does not sound like a good combination, and so we recommend that you check in advance whether the hotel with which you want to make a reservation online has any “COVID-free” distinguishing badge or notice. In case it does not, you may contact them directly and ask if they are following any specific safety protocols and procedures to protect their guests against the virus.

How to cancel or modify a hotel reservation without paying penalty fees

COVID requirements for tourists travelling to the Canary Islands in Spain

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UPDATE – July 2021: All international travellers over 12 visiting the Canaries must be able to show proof of at least one of these three statuses: being fully vaccinated and having received the last dose at least 14 days prior to travelling, having recovered from COVID19 or having tested negative within 48 hours before arrival. If you plan to travel to the islands soon, we recommend that you check the official Canary Islands website for updated accurate information about your specific case.

Since November 14, 2020 and until further notice, all travellers flying to the Canary Islands on holiday who will not be staying with friends or relatives but have made a reservation to stay in a tourist accommodation –namely an apartment, bungalow, hostel, vacation let, hotel or resort- in Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, La Palma, El Hierro or La Graciosa will be required to comply with certain COVID prevention measures exclusive to the territory.

Who is exempt from these travel requirements?

The regulations described below only apply to travellers aged 6 and older, and to tourists visiting the Canaries who will stay in a hotel, resort, apartment or similar type of accommodation. Notwithstanding that, those staying in their own property or with relatives and friends are equally advised to get tested and abide by the current regulations in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What do I need to do before my holiday in Tenerife or Gran Canaria?

Mandatory negative COVID test certificate

Regardless of your country of origin, and irrespective of whether you have travelled to other regions or not before landing in any island of the Canarian archipelago for a leisure stay, you must get a negative COVID-19 swab test within 72 hours prior to checking in at your hotel or resort in Gran Canaria, Tenerife or any other island. You must be able to show an either digital or printed certificate issued by the competent health authority, which needs to correspond to an antigen or PCR negative test (rapid antigen and antibody tests will not be accepted) and include clear information about the time and date it was made alongside your personal details. Failing to show proof of the test may result in being refused admission to the facilities or else quarantined in a guest room until you can get properly tested at the nearest health care centre.

Online Spanish Health Form and Radar COVID app

Likewise, before enjoying a vacation in the Canary Islands, each traveller must fill in the Online Spanish Health Form made available by the national government through the Spanish Travel Health website within 48 hours prior to landing in any island, and download the Radar COVID app, to be kept on their smartphones all throughout their stay and for two weeks after returning to their country.

*Some hotels and resorts in the Canary Islands may stay closed temporarily due to the coronavirus outbreak or are remodelling their facilities, reinventing their services and retraining their staff in order to ensure the safety of their guests. In the meantime, you can check which hotels in the Canaries are currently open.

Safe travel recommendations for tourists

First and foremost, it is recommended that you consider buying travel medical insurance –as you would do when planning any trip-, especially in these unprecedented times. Being in possession of the European Health Insurance Card will also give you great peace of mind.

Mandatory use of face masks to take care of yourself and others while on holiday

During your stay in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, Gran Canaria and the other islands in this Spanish archipelago, make sure you wear a surgical face mask correctly while outdoors and in enclosed public spaces. At this time, it is an obligatory measure for anyone in the territory. You may only take off your mask when swimming, exercising or if you suffer from a respiratory condition. This, alongside the recommended 1’5 metre distance between you and people who are not travelling with you, applies also to situations on a beach, at pools, night clubs, theatres, cinemas and entertainment facilities.

COVID prevention in public transportation and activities in the Canary Islands

If you will be commuting by bus in Tenerife, Fuerteventura, La Palma and the rest of the islands, wear your surgical face mask at all times and use the assigned seats only in order to ensure physical distance between passengers. Similar regulations apply on ferries and inter-island planes.

In the open air, do not smoke if there is not at least a 2 metre distance between you and other travellers who are not with you, use hand sanitizer regularly, book your appointment at spas, gyms and restaurants well in advance, follow the guidelines provided by your group tour guide and, if you go shopping, use QR codes and contactless payment methods as frequently as you can.

COVID-19 prevention measures in place at airports across the world

An as yet unresolved debate arose among travelers following the coronavirus global pandemic: should we cancel our summer 2020 vacation? Are airports and airplanes a safe environment right now? Holidays and getaways, though, are neither the only nor the primary concern, since as international borders gradually reopen and travel restrictions are lifted, stranded citizens still need to return home, students want to go back to their universities abroad, and business people and entrepreneurs also feel the urge to get back to their travelling routines.

From small domestic airports to major aviation hubs, the air travel industry is striving to excel at providing a concern-free experience to air passengers, in such a way that they can travel with peace of mind while it can be guaranteed that the risk of exposure to the coronavirus when going through the airport is reduced to a strict minimum. The correct implementation of these prevention measures, though, requires close cooperation between ground staff and travelers themselves.

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What are airports doing to prevent the spread of COVID19?

Find below an outline of the chief preventive measures that are being implemented by airports to make passenger terminals a COVID-free environment.

Restricted entry. Only passengers with a valid boarding pass to fly can access the terminals on the day of their departure. Relatives and friends may use the designated drop-off and pick-up zones generally located on the curbside or parking.

Digital procedures are strongly encouraged. From doing the check-in online and obtaining a digital boarding pass to using the contactless baggage-drop points, travelers are advised to rely on technology now more than ever. It will not only save you a considerable amount of time but will also help you stay safe while navigating the terminal towards the airside.

Use of the mobile passport app or of electronic passports to go through security (through the eGates if applicable). In a bid to reduce human contact, airports are relying on biometrics and touchless digital solutions, therefore ensuring that all travelers who get into the boarding area stay secure.

Use of surgical masks or face coverings. You will see many members of the airport staff wearing them, because it has been proven to be an effective way to take care of yourself and others. If you do not have any face covering, many airports provide passengers with masks and hand sanitizer if needed and at no charge. You can also get reusable masks at pharmacies, shops and pop-up stores in some terminals. Bear in mind that they are mandatory in public transport to and from the airport as well as in shuttle services where you will be sharing the ride with other travelers too.

Online shopping and mobile payments. Even when you might be missing the Duty Free and the hours you used to spend there before your flight, online orders that you can collect at the airport shops before boarding the plane are highly recommended, as is making mobile payments, using electronic wallets and placing airport food orders via mobile delivery apps.

Keeping your hands clean. Every once in a while, especially if you have been touching high-contact surfaces like handrails, doorknobs or carts, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands by rubbing them together with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing them with running water. Numerous airports have made hand sanitizer dispensers and disposable gloves available across its terminals for travelers to use at no charge.

Increased hygiene and disinfection protocols. Dedicated cleaners and robots are disinfecting the airport facilities day and night by means of sanitizing touch screens and high-contact areas following advanced protocols and using hospital-grade disinfectants.

Thermal screening. Routine testing for fever and symptoms are permanently carried out to both arriving and departing passengers. To this purpose, airport staff may wear thermal detectors on their helmets or travelers may be guided towards discreetly placed thermal detectors.

Being patient while in transit. If you are travelling these days, be patient, abide by the regulations and understand the exceptional circumstances everyone is experiencing. Expect reduced services and longer waits even in airport hotels, the majority of which have just reopened and are still transitioning to their fully digital, social distancing-based era.

COVID tests upon arrival or mandatory health certificate. Although free COVID tests for arriving passengers were the norm at the outset of the pandemic, at present many airports only accept a negative COVID certificate issued within 48 hours before arrival to grant a passenger entry into the country or let them board the plane.

Mandatory social distancing. Marks on the floor indicate the obligatory distance to be kept between you and the other people, a rule to abide by while queuing, seating, waiting at baggage claim or shopping. You will see how terminals have been rearranged to allow for greater space.

Staying behind the physical barriers. Should you need assistance from the airline staff at the check-in counters or ticketing office, you will notice how Plexiglass panels and other physical barriers have been installed ever since the coronavirus outbreak. This prevents viruses and bacteria from being transmitted to the person in front of you.

Have you resolved to take a flight for your next trip, but a domestic one? Take a look at our recommended staycations and local vacations at discounted prices.

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Airlines that allow you to change the date of your flight due to Coronavirus without paying penalty fees

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis leads major airlines to offer flexibility to reschedule booked flights at no cost, in such a way that travellers can change the dates of their trip without having to pay any modification or cancellation fee

The manifest consequences of COVID-19 have been diverse, unfortunately including personal loss, significant damage to local economies and global markets and a dramatic transformation of our daily lives, now reduced to the confinement in our homes. In a world in which commuting is part of our lifestyle and travelling frequently for a variety of reasons has somehow become the norm, travel and tourism have been particularly affected by flight cancellations, border closures and carriers facing an uncertain future. This is why major airlines are offering flexibility to reschedule booked flights free of charge, in other words, waiving any modification or cancellation fee that applied before these unprecedented events.

If you are one of the thousands who are trying to change the dates of an upcoming trip that was booked before the Coronavirus lockdown because you do not want to travel in the current circumstances, the airline cancelled that specific route or you fear the possibility of being refused entry or put into quarantine upon arrival at your destination, check below whether your airline company of choice is waiving fees for cancelling or changing your flight to travel later on in the year.

*Notwithstanding the above, due to the ever-changing nature of the current global situation, you might want to discover how to claim a refund for a cancelled flight in case your carrier does not waive penalty fees.

Postponing your flight with Air France

If you had booked a trip to Paris, Lyon or Nice with France’s flagship carrier before the COVID outbreak, or else were flying from the French capital to another European city or an overseas destination, you can change your flight without incurring penalty fees as long as the original departure date was before May 31 2020 and the new one is no later than November 30. Note that, as is the case with regular bookings, modifications are subject to availability and the pace at which the company will resume normal operations.

Changing the dates of your trip with Iberia

The Madrid-based airline is also offering flexible options for its passengers flying to and from Spain or to destinations across Europe, Latin America and abroad via connecting flights operated by its codeshare partners. Iberia plane tickets valid between March 1 and June 30 2020 may be exchanged for a voucher which can be used to book a new flight at the same price until June 30 2021. If this option does not suit your plans and you prefer to cancel your trip and get a refund, you are advised to telephone the Iberia customer service center on 901 111 500.

 How to get a refund from KLM for a flight booked before COVID-19 lockdown

If you had booked a flight with KLM scheduled to depart before May 31 2020, it does not matter whether you have resolved not to fly or the cancellation has been made by the airline, you are entitled to request a travel voucher that will allow you to modify the dates of your trip to Amsterdam or a different destination until September 30 in the former case and until one year after the issuance date in the latter case. Make sure you read the fine print as other conditions might apply.

Flexible flight changes by American Airlines

With travellers concerned about the Coronavirus breakout in the United States who opt for avoiding airports and domestic travel as well as with those affected by the numerous travel bans and entry restrictions around the world in mind, American Airlines has given additional flexibility to customers in possession of plane tickets bought between March 1 and April 30 2020. Thus, as long as they modify the dates of their trip before travelling, penalty fees will not apply, and this is applicable to non-refundable fares as well.

Free cancellation for passengers of Cathay Pacific flights due to COVID-19 disruption

Health and safety concerns are the main reasons why travellers are deciding not to fly until the Coronavirus curve is flattened or even until a successful vaccine is found, but in contrast there is a considerable amount of people who are simply looking for ways to postpone their trips and change the dates of their already booked flights to a later time in the future. Cathay Pacific is waiving all cancellation and no-show fees, so you can benefit from it although your decision not to board the flight is made at the very last minute. You can cancel your flight, reschedule it or request a refund from the “Manage your Booking” section of your online account.

Are you one of those optimistic people who are longing to travel as much as they can this spring-summer season? If you want to take advantage of exclusive offers and promotions, we recommend that you book your accommodation well in advance.