There is no doubt this summer’s travel will look different than in years past, especially when it comes to staying in hotels. Buffet breakfasts, lobby happy hours and room keys have given way to virtual check-ins, hand sanitizer stations and social distancing as the new must-have amenities. The good news is that hotels are on top of it and slowly reopening their doors, armed with practices and procedures to make sure happy travelers are also healthy ones. Best of all, these properties and their staffs are still doing what they’ve always done best: providing top-notch service and customized experiences to create lasting family memories. Here’s what some of our favorite properties and companies are doing to bring peace of mind for summer hotel stays in 2020 and beyond.
The fourth-generation Schnepf family homestead in Arizona takes travelers back to bygone days at their glampground, equipped with 10 original 1950s-era trailers decked out in midcentury furnishings and retro décor. Set amid a 300-acre peach farm, Cozy Peach invites families to bike, check out farm animals, and taste peaches (they grow eight varieties) and peach pie, which can be ordered online a day ahead of pickup. The well-equipped trailers are sanitized daily and yes, they are air-conditioned. Within walking distance is the Queen Creek Olive Mill, featuring a coffee roaster, wood-fired pizzeria, gelato bar and tables set about 25 feet apart in the outdoor olive grove. There’s also a popular gourmet food market. On Thursday through Sunday nights in summer, Cozy Peach sets up a drive-in theater with family-friendly movies and classics on the marquee.
Social distancing happens naturally at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains (about 10 miles from Branson), a remote haven and activity paradise for families who want to hike, bike, boat, golf, swim and ride horseback while adhering to social distancing guidelines on 4,600 gorgeous acres. The secluded cabins, cottages and villas accommodate multiple generations and bring peace of mind for lodgers, as do the resort’s enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures using CDC-recommended products in guest rooms, at attractions and in shuttles. While the restaurants are operating, in-room dining is also available and staff can deliver Backyard Baskets right to your cottage door, filled with everything you need to prepare your own meals.
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This leading luxury hotel brand has partnered with One Medical to offer 24/7 virtual care services to guests of U.S.-based Montage Hotels & Resorts and Pendry Hotels & Resorts, offering a 30-day membership to One Medical’s digital health services. Additionally, Montage is providing an annual One Medical digital membership to their U.S.-based associates. Montage manages five hotels in the United States, including the stunning Montage Palmetto Bluff, located in South Carolina west of Hilton Head Island and set on 20,000 acres and 35 miles of waterfront along the May River. As part of Montage International’s “Peace of Mind” commitment, properties have rolled out enhanced safety and cleanliness technologies, designed in collaboration with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including the use of electrostatic sprayers, UV wands and devices, and particulate-level air filtration systems. For family togetherness with extra isolation, riverfront cottages and larger homes are just the ticket.
In May, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts collaborated with Johns Hopkins Medicine International to implement a new global health and safety program called “Lead With Care.” Guests staying at hotels will now find a Hygiene Officer on each property with direct access to critical updates, relevant COVID-19 research outcomes and expert advice to implement real-time adjustments and responses. Guest will see hourly cleaning of public areas, rooms disinfected daily with EPA-approved products, and in-room Lead With Care kits that include masks, hand sanitizer and sanitization wipes, but behind-the-scenes measures will also take place through employee training and additional food handling protocols. Nearly all restaurants providing à la carte service will us digital menus wherever possible, and the Four Seasons App and Chat continues to provide guests with real-time, contactless interactions with employees from their own devices for bell service, luggage pickup, airport transfers, room service and more.
For a taste of Southern California beach life without the SoCal crowds, remove yourself by heading 22 miles across the Pacific Ocean (by ferry, private helicopter or your own boat) to Avalon and the car-free oasis of Santa Catalina Island. All rooms at the ultra-relaxed Pavillon Hotel are accessible through exterior hallways, no elevator needed. Rooms also remain vacant for 24 hours between guests to allow for optimal sterilization, including UV light on high-touch surfaces. Enjoy contactless mobile advance check-in, sanitizer boxes with UV light to disinfect commonly touched objects like mobile phones and keys, and face coverings provided in rooms and on demand. The Pavilion’s central grassy courtyard has long been a meetup spot, especially for the evening wine reception, which is now a guest room delivery of wine and a personal cheese platter. Just a few steps from the hotel is a sandy beach that opened May 22, with calm swimmable water and views of the famous Catalina Island casino building. The Pavilion is walking distance to many restaurants that are open for take-out, and the island’s numerous hiking trails have also reopened.
These luxury full-service hotels in Montauk, New York, and Newport, Rhode Island, offer sumptuous seclusion and serenity, with resort grounds that make social distancing a breeze — especially Gurney’s Montauk. The tony Hamptons icon sits on a pristine stretch of the Atlantic with direct access to a 2,000-foot private sand beach (book standalone beachfront cottages with kitchens for extra family seclusion). The company has been busy adjusting to new travel norms, making changes to check-in and check-out procedures, adding rigorous cleaning protocols and placing hand sanitizing stations throughout the properties. Gurney’s Resorts has also added self-parking, complimentary masks and robust in-room programming such as streaming workouts and kids’ activities. More in-room dining options and grab-and-go menus have been added, and reduced seating capacity has been implemented at public venues to allow for proper distancing.
Unlike many states that shuttered hotels back in March, Montana considered them essential businesses, including the incomparable and luxurious family-friendly Resort at Paws Up, which has remained open. Rest assured, however that updated cleaning and social distancing protocols have been implemented, including private transfers or use of one of their Lexus vehicles for arrivals to the Missoula airport, just 35 minutes away. Once onsite, social distancing is a breeze thanks to 37,000 acres of undeveloped land, 100 miles of trails and 10 miles of Blackfoot River frontage. Additionally, all lodging at Paws Up is individual with separate entrances, including private homes and tents. Many of the resort’s dining venues are outdoors and seating at 50 percent capacity, and they’ve added a mobile gourmet pizza truck outside the Wilderness Outpost activity and retail center. Or opt for porch dropoffs or a family BBQ set up on your back deck. Paws Up is expert at customizing memorable vacations, and boredom is not an option when there’s a stunning array of outdoor pursuits to choose from. All of them can be made private for your family, including horseback riding, fly-fishing, boating, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and ATV tours.
Rolled out globally on June 1, 2020, IHG is working with a team of medical experts at the Cleveland Clinic to provide resources to hotel teams to keep staff and guests safe. Rooms and common areas will see deep cleaning of high-touch surfaces, social distancing, “last cleaned” charts, best practices for pools, fitness centers and lounges. Guests will also experience reduced contact at check-in, front-desk screens, sanitized key cards, and paperless checkout. Throughout 2020, IHG is waiving cancellation fees and offering a book-now-pay-later option for the rest of the year. Government workers, healthcare professionals and other groups on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis will receive special rates. If you’re a loyalty member, ask about the ability to turn points into financial donations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies and their COVID-19 Emergency Appeal. IHG owns several brands, including InterContinental, Regent Hotels, Six Senses Hotels, Kimpton Hotels and Resorts, and Crowne Plaza.
If mountain ranges, canyons, crystalline streams and lakes, and stretched-out skies are on the must-have list for your next family vacation, this 28,000-acre Wyoming ranch hits all the marks. Guests stay in individual chalets that sleep from four to 14 and are loaded with 5-star amenities such as stocked fridges and kitchens, washers and dryers and private decks for wildlife spotting and stargazing. Spend the days ziplining, riding horses, ATVing, hiking, rock climbing or swimming. The resort abides by social distancing rules and is rigorous about cleaning and sanitization. Red Reflet Ranch even has its own airport and jet-capable airstrip for pilots and jet-setters who want to fly in privately. The closest commercial airport is Cody, about 100 miles from the ranch.
Opening June 14, Vista Verde Ranch, about 45 minutes from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, doesn’t skimp on luxury or privacy thanks to its stunning wilderness setting and one- to four-bedroom cabins with master suites, Italian linens, spa robes, complimentary snacks and beverages, and private decks with hot tubs. But who wants to stay indoors when there is so much to do? Families have endless opportunities to spread out and bond while trail riding, hiking, fishing, mountain biking or attending a yoga class in the fresh mountain air, all with best-practice efforts to maintain social distancing. The ranch has also enhanced cleaning and sanitation efforts around the property’s public areas and guest rooms, and there will be limited bookings this summer in order to reduce crowding in public spaces. Cloth masks will be provided for each guest, and transportation for arrivals and departures will be assigned with one party per vehicle. Vista Verde has loosened its cancellation terms for the season from 90 to 30 days to allow everyone more planning flexibility; they’ve also added the option for guests to roll deposits into 2021 with no cancellation fee.
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Editor’s Note: Photos courtesy of the individual properties pictured.
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Some of these are great options, I can’t wait to book some of them with you guys.