Coping with COVID-19

How properties are adapting to the pandemic’s effect on hospitality

Karen Slocombe and Syed Aftab
Karen Slocombe and Syed Aftab

Though many properties have chosen to temporarily close due to low occupancy caused by the COVD-19 pandemic, the hotels that are still operational are having to adapt to a new landscape. Social distancing, reduced staffing and increased health and safety protocols are being implemented

Hotelier Middle East spoke to Hoteliers in Thailand and Zanzibar, both popular destinations with travellers from the GCC

Speaking about the new measures being put in place as a result of the coronavirus, Samujana, Koh Samui director of sales & marketing Karen Slocombe said: “Naturally our villas lend themselves well to social distancing and our team are on hand to help with anything your guests need during their stay with us including fetching groceries and arranging private trips and transport. We can create unique and memorable dining experiences in the villas including large family style banquets and we have menus to suit many occasions including a backyard BBQ or Gourmet Feast. The point is to avoid crowds if you can help it, even though there are no cases recorded in Koh Samui. We can organise everything privately from a yoga or Muay Thai lesson or an Island Tour in your own private transportation and these can we arranged off peak so you can avoid the masses.”

Still, Slocombe assured that guest safety remains the priority: “We have been vigilantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation and have precautions in place to ensure a healthy stay for our guests. We are closely monitoring the World Health Organization (WHO) and local health agencies for the latest developments related to COVID-19 and following all guidance on the appropriate health and safety measures. Currently this includes everything from handwashing hygiene and using specific cleaning products to guest room and common area cleaning procedures.”

The Residence Zanzibar director of sales & marketing Syed Aftab echoed the sentiment saying: “Precautionary procedures have been stepped up with increased frequency of cleaning and sanitising of the hotel’s facilities and public areas. The practices of good personal hygiene have also been strictly reinforced to all staff. In case of symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, both guests and staff have been asked to seek medical attention immediately. We remain vigilant and are in constant contact with both our guests and staff at all times for updates and to continually remind them on appropriate measures to adopt in protecting their health and the well-being of others during this time.”

While The Residence Zanzibar is open for business, lower occupancy has had an effect operations. Aftab explains: “Based on the level of cancellations we have received, which are huge, most of our staff are will be on annual leave starting from May 2020. The staff that remains to cater to our guests will have the great opportunity of cross exposure which will help them to learn and grow in their career in good times.”

Slocombe said that her property hadn’t had to make any members of staff redundant and that periods of low occupancy were being used to continue ongoing training in preparation the industry’s recovery.

Both Slocombe and Aftab said that their respective properties hadn’t been notified of any government initiatives in place to ease the financial burden of COVID-19. Aftab explained: “ There hasn’t been any support from government so far, however ZATI (Zanzibar Association of Tourism Industry) members had their meeting and have submitted the proposal on suspension of all payments for SDL, Freeze on TRA Corporate tax and postponement of ZSSF contributions to Zanzibar government and are waiting for their feedback.”

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