As the pandemic continues, it would be easy for the hotel industry to concentrate on keeping the ship steady, or afloat at all, rather than being creative and looking to the future. But hoteliers are staying focused on the future.
These days Hotel News Now is publishing articles and data that shows where demand is, what flexibility is required in within teams and chains and how hoteliers globally are negotiating the chaos of the present time.
There is demand. In the U.S., most hotels have never closed. Elsewhere, hoteliers have given temporary homes to key workers, asylum seekers and the homeless as regular demand dried up.
Now, things are slowly coming back—emphasis on slowly. Hoteliers are signing and opening hotels, and the creativity is there. There is no reason it should have departed, but the COVID-19 pandemic and economic catastrophe have shown us that four months and counting can turn everything we know upside down.
Periods in history probably have disappeared within that time span, too, so historians might have said hoteliers were creative from the Grand Tour hotels of the early 19th Century through the first Holiday Inn in 1952 and up to the coronavirus of 2020.
Based on the evidence I have seen in the last month, that will not enter our textbooks.
One hotel that sparked my interest and that of many other media outlets is the Kruger Shalati, a hotel formed within a train that now sits on a train track on a bridge 50 or so feet above the Sabie River in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
It would have been more romantic if perhaps the train whistled it last on that very bridge, but the carriages have been brought there recently, and the luxurious “hotel” will include lounge and observation cars to observe wildlife.
Such a grand project easily could have been shelved in the last few months, but the hotel plans to open probably at the end of 2020 or early next. There are also a few hotel rooms on the ground close to the train rooms, for a total of 31 accommodations options, and the rack rate is not cheap.
Another hotel that could have dribbled its last on the planning rack these past few months is the 27-room Hotel Bodega Tío Pepe, opened by wine distributer González Byass and created by Spanish and British families of those names within their 19th century winery in the small Andalusian city of Jerez de la Frontera.
Guests will have access to the site’s tranquil gardens, a restaurant and the smells of hundreds of years of sherry production. (A visit to the nearby Guadalquivir River town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda would be called for, too, as it and nowhere else makes the lighter sherry manzanilla.)
More established hotel companies are not hiding either, and while it might not be fair or indicative to pick out one, the latest new hotel to come by my inbox is the 65-room Rosewood Porto Cervo, which will open in 2022 on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, the moneyed haven developed in the early 1960s by the Aga Khan.
The hotel sounds like quite a haven, too, and no doubt has been signed and planned for the well-to-do on the other side of a vaccine.
And the media has been well-served with notes about budget brand My Place launching in early June Trend Hotels & Suites, calling it “a collection of upper-midscale and upscale select-service and extended-stay hotels.”
That nearly covers the entire rainbow of the industry, from budget to luxury via boutique and midscale.
The industry has not sat dormant. It has not been paralyzed into lethargy, and our choice and enjoyment look to be increased the moment we can all go back to traveling in the ways we love.
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