Villa Hotels launches ‘CleanStay@Villa’ safety programme for post-coronavirus travel
Villa Hotels & Resorts is launching a safety programme, in a bid to prepare for a possible reopening of the Maldives borders to visitors in the third quarter of the year.
The CleanStay@Villa initiative will be built on Villa Hotels existing high standards, and follow the guidance of their in-house doctors as well as World Health Organisation and the national Health Protection Agency (HPA).
The initiative will undergo regular reviews based on evolving industry standards and feedback from the group’s travel partners and guests.
“The health and safety of our guests have always been our priority. We have continuously maintained an excellent standard of hygiene in all our resorts,” a statement read.
“Given the impact of Covid-19, we have upgraded our standards to ensure the health and safety of guests throughout their experience in our resorts. When the Maldives re-opens for tourism, Villa Resorts will be providing guests with a renewed assurance of cleanliness and safety.”
The CleanStay@Villa initiative will implement SOPs for end-to-end hygiene checks from arrival and transfer to stay and departure. It will include, but will not be limited to, SOPs in the following:
- Disinfect all exposed surfaces on lounges and transport facilities for arrival and departure
- Check and log temperature of all guests and staff on arrival and departing
- Identify high touch areas in guest villas and modify cleaning protocols to ensure that such areas are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
- Implement new staff hygiene standards, with mandatory Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Apply stringent disinfecting measures for F&B, spa, sports and recreation facilities
- Recommend social distancing between guests and staff
- Implement continuous staff training in hygiene and cleanliness standards and protocols
- Ensure resorts’ medical clinics are housed with doctors and required facilities
- Use hospital-grade disinfectants in cleaning protocols
- In case of need, provide isolation rooms at each resort
In March, Vill Hotels suspended the operations of its resorts due to travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The suspension will likely remain in place until the end of June.
As one of the leading hospitality companies in the Maldives, Villa Hotels owns and operates five resorts: Paradise Island Resort and Spa, Royal Island Resort and Spa, Holiday Island Resort and Spa, Sun Island Resort and Spa, and Fun Island Resort and Spa.
The company also has several subsidiaries, including award-winning wellness brand Araamu Spa and dive centre DiveOceanus.
The coronavirus outbreak has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.
All international airlines have suspended scheduled operations to the Maldives, as the island nation enforced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa in late March in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Even before the visa suspension, the Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from some of the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Visitors from three regions of Germany (Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg), two regions of France (Île-de-France and Grand Est) and two regions of South Korea were also banned from entering the country.
All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran were also cancelled.
Cruise ships and foreign yachts were also banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.
With arrival numbers falling and the visa suspension in effect, several resorts across the Maldives had been closed.
Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.
However, tourist arrivals saw a year-over-year decline of 22.8 per cent in the first 10 days of March. Officials say the number of tourist arrivals to the Maldives could drop by half in 2020.
Tourism has been the bedrock of the Maldives’ economic success. The $5 billion-dollar economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2018 with tourism generating 60 per cent of foreign income.
However, the government is at present projecting a possible 13 per cent economic contraction this year — an estimated $778 million hit.
Maldivian officials have been bullish on their ability to contain the coronavirus outbreak and reopen the country in the third quarter of the year.
The government has formulated five scenarios with possible timelines for reopening borders and the tourism sector.
The best case scenario sees the country reopen borders by May, but the most likely scenario projects a July date for reopening the borders and restarting tourism in October. In the worst case, borders may only open by January 2021.
On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.
Eighteen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except five Maldivians who had returned from abroad — were later identified.
A six-case cluster of locals, detected in capital Male on April 15, confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus. Several more clusters have since been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed case in the Maldives to 1,078.
Four deaths have been reported and 49 have made full recoveries.
The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.
The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders in capital Male and its suburbs, a ban on inter-island transport and public gatherings across the country, and a nationwide closing of government offices, schools, colleges and universities.
Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks have also been shut.
Restaurants and cafes in the capital have been asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.
A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands is also in effect.