How the largest hotel chains are giving back amid a pandemic
All around the world, hotels and travel companies have been doing what they can to help communities affected by the pandemic and show appreciation for essential workers and healthcare staff working to make a difference in the fight against Covid-19. From familiar hotel brands and B&Bs to wineries and corporate travel companies, here’s a look at some of the ways they’ve helped support small businesses and keep hope alive this year.
Hyatt has been pretty busy this year, with roughly 60 properties worldwide helping small businesses stay afloat with a new initiative called Hyatt Loves Local. Here in the U.S., Hyatt Regency Atlanta offered complimentary use of its kitchen and lobby spaces to support Anna Bell’s Mac & Cheese, while Andaz West Hollywood let local business Barcode Barbershop take over its rooftop for two months of outdoor haircuts and styling treatments. Other Hyatt hotels, like Motif Seattle and Grand Hyatt Vail, helped community businesses open onsite pop-ups—a mobile coffee cart for Monorail Espresso in Seattle and a pop-up shop for women’s clothing boutique Wild Heart in Vail—while Gild Hall in New York City arranged for BACH Fitness to host socially distant yoga and pilates classes so the company could stay open.
Hyatt is also offering a special Friends & Family rate as a way to show appreciation for healthcare workers when they book with promo code THANKYOU on stays now through September 12, 2021. World of Hyatt loyalty program members can also donate Hyatt points toward free stays for healthcare staff and other frontline workers.
Hilton’s approach has been a little different, with many individual properties offering ways to give back in addition to larger-scale corporate efforts made earlier this year, like donating one million rooms to medical professionals, partnering with World Central Kitchen and other worldwide endeavors. Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino is donating $25 per night to one of two local charities when you book a Give Back Aruba package, while a portion of Forest Therapy spa treatments at Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead will go to Trees Atlanta, which supports the conservation and creation of green spaces around the city. In Colorado, The Curtis is donating $5 from every Don’t Eat Yellow Snow package to the Ronald McDonald House of Denver. Just in time for Christmas, three hotels—Conrad New York Downtown, Conrad Washington, D.C. and Conrad Dublin—are partnering with local children’s hospitals to host a “Hotline to the North Pole,” on December 23 and 24, a video conference link letting little ones chat with Santa Claus.
Members of Hilton’s loyalty program can aso redeem Hilton Honors points for donations to several charities and nonprofit organizations by linking their account with partner site, PointWorthy.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG Hotels & Resorts)
Besides allowing IHG Rewards Club members to donate their IHG points to charitable causes like the American Red Cross, Goodwill and The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, IHG has been doing its part to recognize the efforts of essential workers around the world, awarding complimentary stays to those who deserve it most. One essential worker in the U.K., for instance, was given a surprise trip to the Hotel Indigo Stratford-Upon-Avon after missing her 26th wedding anniversary because the healthcare facility where she worked made her stay there for 12 weeks.
As a way to show appreciation for the brave men and women working on the front lines in the fight against Covid-19, Marriott is offering special rates for Community Caregivers—healthcare workers, first responders and their families—at participating properties within the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. To get the discount, qualified essential workers can book stays by March 31, 2021, and must show valid identification from your medical, government, military or relief organization when they check in.
The Copper Door B&B and Rosie’s Pop-Up in Miami
While Jamila Ross and Akino West, owners of The Copper Door B&B in Miami’s historic Overtown neighborhood, have been forced to make some adjustments this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic—the B&B’s legendary communal breakfast has since evolved into Rosie’s, a pop-up restaurant where guests can save 20%—they’re still paying it forward. The two hospitality entrepreneurs made headlines earlier this year when they cooked and delivered weekly meals to volunteers at the local World Central Kitchen outpost, Red Rooster, and it’s something they’ve continued to do ever since. Today, The Copper Door B&B is operating at 50% capacity with Covid-safe measures in place while Rosie’s remains open for brunch, serving up Soul Food classics like shrimp & grits and chicken & waffles as well as Italian-inspired dishes like Southern-style polenta and lemon ricotta pancakes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
Corporate travel and expense management company TripActions found yet another meaningful way to give back to its local community this year. When students in San Francisco neighborhoods hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly found themselves having to attend school from home, many of them without the proper equipment or Wi-Fi access, TripActions’ Head of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Shaka Senghor led the company’s efforts to donate more than 100 laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots and other technology through its partnerships with Hack the Hood, Climb Hire and Burton High School. The donations helped ensure students enrolled in tech training programs would have what they needed to continue their studies, including mentorship opportunities, while students at Burton High School were given the option to have monthly care packages with snacks sent to their homes.
Earlier this fall, Sonoma County based winery Kendall-Jackson partnered with United Way Worldwide to create the Grocery Worker’s Relief Fund in an effort to provide up to $250 in cash cards and other pandemic-related emergency assistance via United Way’s 211 crisis services to essential workers currently employed by supermarkets and retail stores with grocery departments. So far, Kendall-Jackson has pledged $200,000 for the first year, committing to $2 million in support through August 2030.
Hawaii launches new remote work program
Hawaii has just launched a new "travel" program focused on remote work from the Hawaiian Islands. The state/private-supported program, "Movers & Shakas” will initially provide 50 FREE roundtrip flights to Oahu to pre-employed people who must stay a minimum of one month. In exchange, they need to give a few hours/week to a nonprofit that fits their skillset. So there is a great volunteer component for those looking to give back while traveling. Additional incentives include discounted rates with hotels, restaurants, etc. Deadline to apply is Dec. 15. The goal of the program is to help boost Hawaii's economy outside of traditional tourism - especially with how dependent/impacted Hawaii is on air travel and recent/new mainland state travel restrictions. Hawaii has one of the lowest COVID-19 rates, so working in a safe environment is another positive. “Working from Hawaii can provide a much needed respite from the isolation and burnout caused by remote work,” said Jason Higa, CEO of FCH Enterprises, parent company of Zippy's and one of the driving forces behind Movers & Shakas. “With the lowest rate per capita of COVID infections in the country, and an abundance of social distancing activities and dining experiences, Hawaii is ideal for those seeking a safe place to work and play.”
TSA reports over 2 million travelers the weekend before Thanksgiving
TSA data indicates that over 2 million people passed through security checkpoints the weekend before Thanksgiving. It was only the second time since March that domestic flight travel had over 1 million flyers in a day. While this is a high number for 2020, it is still only 45% of the total traffic reported through security a year ago.The surge in travel comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging across the country. The Center for Disease Control issued a warning last week urging people to avoid travel for Thanksgiving and encouraging them to stay home. “As we're seeing exponential growth in cases, and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another, leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” Henry Walke, COVID-19 incident manager at the CDC, said in a press call Thursday. The CDC recommends that people spend the Thanksgiving holiday only with the people in their immediate household. “If people have not been actively living with you for the 14 days before you're celebrating, they are not considered a member of your household, and therefore you need to take those extra precautions," said Erin Sauber-Schatz, the head of the CDC's community intervention and critical population task force.Despite these warnings, AAA estimates that over 50 million Americans are expecting to travel for Thanksgiving. 95% of these trips are expected to be in the car. Budget Travel readers are encouraged to stay home for Thanksgiving. If you must travel, try to limit indoor exposure and wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
Smithsonian museums announce indefinite closures due to COVID-19
The museums are mostly in the Washington DC area. The Smithsonian announced the closures on Thursday, Tweeting: "Due to rising regional and national cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, Nov. 23. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time." These closures affect the 8 Smithsonian museums in DC that had reopened to the public after the first wave of COVID was flattened. This includes the museums located on the National Mall, as well as the National Zoo.
Anguilla, Curaçao, and St. Kitts and Nevis have reopened safely to tourism
Whether islands closed their borders back in March or remained open to a certain extent throughout, they’ve got some things in common: strict rules regarding Covid-19 testing and contract tracing, social distancing and mask-wearing in public places, and in most cases, quarantine, all measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus and help keep locals and visitors as safe and healthy as possible. We’ve already covered how Caribbean countries have been reopening to tourism all summer, though there have been a few updates. Starting this month, Jamaica’s new initiative, Jamaica Cares, will require all visitors to pay a mandatory health insurance fee of $40. As of November 1, new entry protocols in The Bahamas mean visitors will be able to skip 14 days of quarantine if they can show negative test results from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within five days of their flight, sign up for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa online, fill out a daily health questionnaire, take a Covid-19 rapid antigen test on the fifth day, and wear a mask and maintain social distancing whenever they’re in public. Other islands, like Curaçao, Anguilla and Saint Kitts and Nevis have chosen other methods, like only reopening to certain U.S. states, coming up with new ways for visitors to enjoy the island outside the typical resort bubble and using contract tracing apps for the first 14 days. Here’s what you need to know if you’ll be visiting anytime soon. Willemstad, Curacao. ©SirimasB/Shutterstock Curaçao While the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao will be reopening to American travelers this weekend, only residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida will be allowed to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine. While residents of other states are still allowed to visit, they must request a permit ahead of time online and quarantine for 14 days immediately upon arrival. All visitors must fill out a digital immigration card through the online portal, as well as a Passenger Locator Card (PLC) within 48 hours of your flight—be sure to print this out and carry it around with you while you’re there. You’ll also need to provide printed proof of negative results from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of your departure and have your temperature checked at the airport. Those with positive test results will not be allowed to enter the country, and anyone who contracts Covid-19 during their trip must quarantine immediately at their own expense. Once in Curaçao, visitors are expected to maintain a distance of at least six feet from anyone outside your group and wear a mask whenever this isn’t possible. Bars, restaurants and other attractions are currently operating under new safety protocols, and reservations must be made ahead of time. Tourists can rent cars and are encouraged to download the Dushi Stay App, available in The App Store and Google Play, for the latest updates. Anguilla While Anguilla has been open to certain travelers since August 21, Phase Two began November 1, allowing more hotels, restaurants and attractions to reopen. You’ll still need to apply to enter the country, show negative results from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within three to five days of your trip, provide proof of health insurance that will cover Covid-related medical costs while you’re there and complete a health questionnaire. You’ll also have to wear a mask, have your temperature taken and get a Covid-19 PCR test at the airport, then have another Covid-19 PCR test on the 10th day of your trip. The biggest Phase Two change concerns quarantine: You’ll still be transported to your approved property of choice by a government-certified taxi or shuttle, but instead of being confined to your resort for 14 days, guests who receive negative test results at the airport can now participate in certain off-property activities like golf, scuba diving, snorkeling, yoga and glass-bottom boat rides as long as they’re arranged by the hotel through an approved vendor. Think of it as an expansion of the resort bubble, where visitors are still able to enjoy their property’s golf courses and other amenities while in quarantine. Once guests receive negative results from their Covid-19 test on the 10th day, they’re free to rent a car and explore the rest of the island. Anguilla also has a fee system in place to cover two Covid-19 PCR tests per person and any contract tracing or temperature checking services provided by healthcare personnel. Solo travelers visiting for five days or less pay $300, couples pay $500 and families pay $500 for the first two people and $250 for each additional person. Solo travelers staying between five days and three months must pay $400, couples pay $600 and families pay $600 for the first two people and $250 for each additional person. Anguilla also lets you stay up to a year, but it’ll cost you: digital nomads can pay $2,000 per person for the privilege, while the costs are $3,000 per family of four. Stunning Pinney's beach with Coconut Palms, and the Volcano in the distance, at Nevis. Caribbean. ©Peter Phipp/Getty Images Saint Kitts and Nevis As of October 31, Americans can visit Saint Kitts and Nevis during Phase One of its reopening process. For starters, you’ll need to fill out a travel health form through the government’s website and provide proof of negative results from a Covid-19 PCR test taken by an accredited lab within 72 hours of your flight. At the airport, you’ll need to get your temperature checked, fill out a questionnaire and download the SKN Covid-19 contact tracing app, which must be used during the first 14 days of your trip. You’re free to enjoy all on-property amenities for the first seven days, and following a mandatory Covid-19 PCR test on day seven, you’ll also be allowed to book approved off-property tours and excursions. If you’re staying longer than 14 days, you’ll need to take another Covid-19 PCR test on your 14th day before you can venture out and see the rest of the country. Note that all Covid-19 tests in Saint Kitts and Nevis must be done at your own expense, and there are only six approved hotels for U.S. travelers to stay in at this time: St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino, Royal St. Kitts Hotel, Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour, Oualie Beach Resort, Koi Resort Saint Kitts and the Four Seasons Resort Nevis.