The impact of Coronavirus pandemic has rattled everyone in the world of travel – be it the airlines, hotels, cruise ships, travel companies or destinations. Yet, despite the sudden, unprecedented strain placed on the industry, the sector’s agility to react and adapt according to the “new normal” is praiseworthy. Read this detailed review to know whether it is safe to stay in a luxury hotel during a pandemic and why this is the best time to book a luxurious weekend stay at Novotel Hyderabad Airport Hotel. A five-star hotel that comes loaded with enhanced safety measures, flexible cancellation policy and Best Price Guarantee.
How coronavirus is impacting the travel industry
The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the world to a screeching halt, and tourism has been the worst affected of all major sectors. As per UNWTO, approximately 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs are at risk, which makes 2020 by far the worst year for international tourism since 1950. However, after several months of lockdown, the sector is gingerly beginning to reopen. While it will take a couple of years to regain its preCOVID era glory, at least people have started enquiring about flying in 2020 and safe destinations to visit post covid19. The interesting thing is people want to travel – they are looking but not booking.
Why I decided to travel during COVID19 pandemic
The feelings associated with travel have changed drastically all over the globe. For many, the simple idea of venturing out is fraught with anxiety, regardless of the current COVID19 situation and relaxing of travel restrictions. But others like me still feel the need to getaway. Before the pandemic outbreak, I had my travel calendar full up to October 2020 to exotic locations like the Arctic, Eurasia, Africa and Australia. But by July, after spending four months at home, I was tired of my four walls. I am pretty sure even my walls were tired of me. The idea of waking up in a different pin code felt fresh enough to book a quick weekend getaway.
Also, being an intrepid traveller, I am of the firm opinion that life cannot be lived in closed quarters forever. We have to move on at some point. My tipping point had arrived. Albeit before booking my trip, I conducted a great deal of advance research. Starting from choosing the right destination (a safe place where quarantine or COVID Test were not needed), to booking the right airline, hotel and activities carefully, and taking many, many steps to ensure my health and safety are not compromised at any point.
In this post, I’ll share my first-hand experience of trying the enhanced safety and hygiene protocols of Novotel Airport Hyderabad hotel. Moreover, you’ll get honest feedback on whether you should avoid non-essential travel or be brave enough to take a quick weekend trip.
Was the safety worth taking the risk
Frankly, we are not 100% safe from the coronavirus, and it would be wrong to take it lightly. I was a bit anxious too, but once I was out of home, I felt I was in safe hands. Safety regulations were incorporated at every step of the journey. Interested to know how flying has changed? Read flying in 2020 – Is it safe to fly during COVID19?
While Airports and Airlines have regulations that make your journey contactless and a regular sanitisation process, Hotels like Novotel Hyderabad Airport Hotel have combined luxury and safety in a fresh way to bring the best experience to travellers, even in a pandemic. Here is my step-by-step experience of staying in a luxury hotel during a pandemic.
The pickup car at the airport had necessary Personal Protection Equipment like Antibacterial wipes, masks and gloves. Moreover, there was a transparent dividing shield between the driver and me to ensure contactless pickup. The drive to the airport was short and sweet.
At the Hotel
Right at the main entrance, thermal scanning and hands sanitisation was done before I could enter the premise of the hotel, which was followed by another round of temperature check, Aarogya Setu App health status check, thorough sanitisation of my shoes, luggage, handbag and other contact points that can lead to a spread of infection. Hand sanitiser, face masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes were placed in all public spaces and room. The best part was the contactless check-in. I was directly handed over my room keys without any wait time since my verification was done online before I arrived. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw that my UV sanitised room was sealed 24 hours before I opened it. The room had single-use cups for tea and coffee along with towels and personal care amenity kit that were kept in minimal numbers.
There couldn’t have been a better welcome drink than the immunity-boosting Kadha (an Ayurvedic drink made with herbs and spices) and Celery juice. And, it wasn’t just the welcome drink that was created keeping the new normal in mind, but all the meals were powered with immunity-boosting ingredients, thus providing the hotel guests with the best food to have during a pandemic.
Whether it was the room service personnel or the lobby manager, the Novotel Hyderabad Airport Hotel staff strictly followed ALL SAFE Hotel Safety Rules made especially for the pandemic, which reduce any threats due to contact points for both the travellers and them. Gloves, masks and sanitisers are must for the whole staff and I felt relieved to know that the kitchen staff always wear PPE kits while preparing or touching food. All kitchen tools are sanitised after every meal and soaked in chlorine water when not in use. Been positively fanatic about cleanliness I insisted on how they clean. I was relieved to know that Novotel Hyderabad Airport Hotel is perhaps the only hotel in Hyderabad that’s using a UV machine to clean crockery and guest rooms.
Epicurean Delights with Immunity shield
Even though I am neither a foodie nor a bad cook yet having the same ordinary food daily for four months had made my life a bit insipid. Like others, I too tried my best to become the Master Chef of my home by trying out new recipes every now and often. But I missed the joy of having delicious food served at hotels and the restaurants. And, I must confess my taste buds never felt so good as they felt when I tried different cuisines at Novotel restaurants. While all the meals were lip-smacking, a few stood out for me
High tea was a real high-end affair of flavours and fusion cooking at Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre. The chef had given a modern twist to the traditional dishes by churning out delicacies such as Avocado Chaat on Savoury Bagel, Hyderabadi Toast, Podi Idly, Baked Gulab Jamun with Rabdi, Khubaani ka Meetha Tatin, and Osmania Biscuit with Irani Chai. At last, my craving for good food was satiated to the core here. But wait a minute – this was just the trailer. There was a lot more to come.
Hyderabad is world-famous for its native Deccani cuisine, and I got to try some authentic local delicacies such as Sabz Haleem, and Kesari Shorba at Mercure Hyderabad KCP. Other treats from the dinner menu included Malai Paneer, Sabz Hara Lolly and healthy options like multigrain Tikki. The raw banana Shami Kebab was the most sought after starter. The sumptuous meal was rounded off with a generous serving of the deserts – Pyaaz ki Rabri, Shahi Tukda and Rasmalai. Needless to say, after having so much food, I went into a food coma and slept like a Kumbhkaran.
Next day was greeted with a big fat South Indian Thalli having some unique items like Punugulu, Chitti Garelu, Pesarattu. The different varieties of chutneys made the meal even more delicious. I gulped down everything with a generous dose of coconut water and filter coffee. Lunch was again a riot of flavours. I’ll let the picture do the talking.
After a short trip to Hyderabad, I realised I need to go back just to enjoy its food. Meals like these can be turned into extraordinary ones if you’re travelling with your loved one. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines, all buffets were cancelled, and bars were closed too.
Creating Golden Memories even in a Global Pandemic
Being an eternal optimist, I always try to find a silver lining around a dark cloud. One of the drawbacks of being a solo traveller is I often miss out on getting my own pictures clicked. So, since I was travelling after such a long time, I decided to do something different – I hired a professional photographer from ShootMe to capture some of my memories. After all, when I grow old, I would love to flaunt how ravishingly I sustained a global pandemic, “Once upon a time when the COVID19 Global pandemic stuck, I still managed to look pretty.”
Here, I would like to underline the fact that all the safety regulations were followed during the photoshoot for a safe and memorable experience:
- Identifying the photo-friendly spots before the shoot to avoid any contact risks and to keep the shoot smooth and quick.
- The photographer touched no objects during the photoshoot, and all the contact points were sanitised
- Maintaining a safe distance at all times along with wearing Personal Protection Equipment
- Sanitisation of all equipment
So, this was my honest experience of taking a quick leisure break during a pandemic, but I can’t emphasis enough on the fact that the virus is still infecting people. And, the only way to contain this virus is by being careful and taking all the safety precautions – rigorous mask usage, sanitising after every interaction, social distancing, and if possible, get a Covid19 test done before you travel. It’s quickly and easily done these days. Today, I can proudly say that I had a good trip because the hotel and I took all the necessary precautions to not contribute to virus transmission.
Have you taken a vacation during the pandemic or planning to? Do you think it is safe to stay in a luxury hotel during a pandemic? Please do share your feedback in the comments section below.