Resourceful hoteliers manage to keep their doors open

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During the Covid-19 pandemic, Crane’s Beach House in Delray Beach, Fla., has lowered rates and repositioned itself as an extended-stay accommodation.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Crane’s Beach House in Delray Beach, Fla., has lowered rates and repositioned itself as an extended-stay accommodation.

While countless hotels worldwide have shuttered because of plummeting occupancy amid the Covid-19 pandemic, some enterprising hoteliers have adapted in order to stay open.

In Delray Beach, Fla., boutique property Crane’s Beach House has repositioned itself as an extended-stay accommodation, offering reduced rates in order to attract month-long bookings. According to general manager Cathy Balestriere, the decision was made in response to guest demand.

“This is March in South Florida,” said Balestriere. “This is when we are normally at the height of our season, and we usually have a lot of our Northern and Northeastern clients that come in for 30 days or longer, year after year. And they were already here. So, some decided to stick it out and stay.”

While rates for a studio at Crane’s Beach House typically start at around $400 per night, the property is currently charging around $129 per night ($4,180 per month) for the same room type. As of March 19, Balestriere said 18 of the resort’s 28 rooms were occupied. 

Crane’s Beach House benefits from being set up for long-term stays and self-isolation. Each of the property’s studio and one-bedroom accommodations feature a kitchenette or full kitchen, and all rooms have individual outdoor entrances. Some rooms have private patios, and Balestriere has rearranged and separated all outdoor seating to promote social distancing.

The resort has implemented a stringent “no contact” guest service policy. Guests are welcomed remotely, with initial communication occurring via a Ring video doorbell. Check-in processes are completed in-room via phone. Any requested items -- such as extra towels or toiletries -- are dropped off in front of doors in disinfected plastic bins. Housekeeping time slots are pre-scheduled, with guests required to step out of the room for 45 minutes during cleaning. Each room is cleaned by a single housekeeper in order to minimize risk.

“We all wanted to make sure we were taking enough responsibility to feel safe about what we’re doing,” said Balestriere.

In nearby Palm Beach, the Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa is similarly keeping its doors open, catering to guests who are extending their stays or have been displaced as other hotels in the area close. While the property had to close its sushi restaurant, Mizu, it has kept its signature restaurant, Brandon’s, operating.  The restaurant’s full menu is available for takeout and delivery for both locals and guests.

Cabot Cove Cottages in Maine is expecting to welcome guests who usually don't come until the summer.
Cabot Cove Cottages in Maine is expecting to welcome guests who usually don't come until the summer.

Also targeting travelers looking to hunker down for a longer stay is Maine’s Kennebunkport Resort Collection, which plans to make its Cape Arundel Inn and Cabot Cove Cottages available for weekly and monthly stays when they open for the season this spring.

Buyouts of Cape Arundel’s seven-room main house and three-bedroom cottage are priced at $9,500 per week/$36,000 per month and $2,500 per week/$10,000 per month, respectively, while Cabot Cove Cottages, which offers 16 standalone units, can be booked for $1,500 per week/$5,500 per month. 

“With what’s happening, we’re seeing summer residents arriving earlier to get away from things,” said Deb Lennon, managing partner for Kennebunkport Resort Collection. “And we’re also getting inquiries from our repeat guests, reaching out to see what we have open. So that sparked the idea of offering buyouts to families who may want to escape their condos in more densely populated areas.”

Like Crane’s Beach House, Cabot Cove Cottages offer a no-contact check-in experience, with all guest communications being done online or over the phone, while Cape Arundel Inn includes a host check-in visit at what Lennon calls “a safe distance.”

Heightened precautions have been put in place around cleaning, with housekeepers wearing gloves and masks. A concierge can arrange for grocery delivery, while at Cape Arundel Inn, a chef is also available for private meals. 

“It is really hard being in the travel business right now,” said Lennon. “But we do recognize that some people want an opportunity to have some kind of respite away from things. And this also offers us the opportunity to keep our team engaged and employed.”

Taking things a step further is Le Bijou, a luxury apartment-hotel brand that operates locations in Zurich, Zug, Lucerne, Basel, Bern and Geneva, Switzerland. The company is advertising serviced “quarantine apartments,” complete with no-contact check-in, food delivery and personal chef services. Guests can even bypass a visit to the hospital and opt instead for an in-room coronavirus test and healthcare services from Double Check Zurich, a private Swiss health clinic.

Prices for Covid-19 quarantine stays are available upon request, but prior to the pandemic, rates at Le Bijou apartments typically ranged between $800 to $2,000 per night. Healthcare services are available separately at around $500 for coronavirus testing, approximately $1,800 for twice-daily nurse visits and roughly $4,800 for 24/7 nurse care.

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