TORONTO — Hotels and resorts are proving to be a shining example of how to adapt to a pandemic.
With new government testing rules that impact all Canadian and American travellers, the accommodation sector has swiftly responded by offering guests the convenience of on-property COVID-19 testing. Canadians can now access the required PCR test they need to re-enter Canada at many participating properties, while American guests can take their required viral test, which includes a rapid antigen test, on site prior to departure.
A small handful of resort companies, like Sandals and The Excellence Collection, is providing guests PCR tests free of charge, while the vast majority of companies that are offering on-site testing have announced complimentary antigen tests.
There’s no question that in the immediate aftermath of these new testing requirements, having on-site testing as well as complimentary quarantine stays are giving hotels and resorts a competitive edge in a drastically reduced travel market. Plus, anything that adds convenience for clients is welcome news to travel agents who have the difficult task of selling travel during this time.
In the lead article of the Jan. 21 issue of Travelweek, we outlined the on-site testing capabilities at Sandals, The Excellence Collection, AIC Hotel Group and Karisma Hotels & Resorts.
We followed up with several other top resort companies about COVID-19 testing, here’s what they had to say:
As part of its CleanComplete+ Verification program, AMResorts is offering free COVID-19 viral antigen testing on property, as well as PCR testing for an additional cost to guests. More information on testing can be found here.
For guests travelling to any country with COVID-19 testing regulations in effect to enter after international travel, like Canada, AMResorts is also extending its quarantine program. If a guest receives a positive test while on property that prevents a scheduled departure date, the cost of quarantine on site will be covered for up to 14 days. Extended stay due to quarantine includes the guest plus one travel companion sharing the same room. This program is valid for travel through March 31, 2021.
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Bahia Principe is currently offering PCR testing in designated areas of resorts in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica. Tests are carried out by medical professionals in partnership with local laboratories, with test results received within 72 hours prior to departure, as required by the Government of Canada, in written and/or electronic format. Guests must contact the front desk at each resort upon arrival to schedule their test.
The pricing for a PCR test is as follows:
- Punta Cana complex: from US$89
- Mexico complex: US$125
- Jamaica: US$200
The company is also offering antigen testing with varying prices.
“While it will definitely add a step to current travel itineraries, I don’t believe the new testing rules will necessarily have a significant negative impact on future bookings,” says Helen Montijano, Bahia Principe’s VP of Sales and Marketing for U.S. & Canada. “Bahia Principe and the destinations we currently operate in are working tirelessly to offer Canadian travellers safety and convenience when it comes to providing COVID-19 testing services on site. We are prepared to make their experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible in this new normal.”
BLUE DIAMOND RESORTS
As of Jan. 26, 2021, Blue Diamond Resorts will offer U.S. travellers free on-site COVID-19 viral antigen tests in Cancun, Punta Cana and Jamaica, as well as free Medical Assistance coverage to cover the cost of any accidents or illness, including COVID-19, until March 31, 2021.
For guests arriving in Saint Lucia and Antigua, viral antigen tests are available on property at an extra cost of US$150-$200 each (results in Antigua take up to 72 hours to be delivered).
For guests arriving in Costa Rica, the Ministry of Health has not yet approved the viral antigen test but PCR tests are available upon appointment at the property, at a cost of US$150 each. Results are available after 36-48 hours.
Appointments must be made at the Guest Services Desk upon check-in at the resort to secure a time for a test within three days of departure.
Club Med guests who are in need of an antigen test can get one at no additional charge at Club Med Canún, Club Med Punta Cana and Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda. These resorts are also performing PCR tests at an additional charge. For Club Med Turkoise, the resort team will facilitate PCR testing at an additional charge, and antigen testing will be offered as soon as this becomes available in Turks & Caicos. Prices for PCR tests may vary depending on the number of tests performed on site.
“We believe this new requirement is complexifying the travel landscape as it is, adding to the mandatory 14-day systematic quarantine order in Canada,” Amélie Brouhard, Club Med’s Managing Director Canada tells Travelweek. “We are strongly supporting safer travel and are in favour of options based on testing protocols, but we feel that a negative test result should enable to reduce the quarantine on return home, all the while making travel even safer.”
Before Jan. 24, 2021, COVID-19 PCR testing will be offered in close proximity to each resort. Appointments are required; transfers to/from the testing facility can be made by contacting the front desk.
Starting Jan. 24, Canadians can submit an online application at the dedicated Canadian portal here. The lab will contact them to schedule an appointment. Test samples will be collected at the property where the guest is staying. If collections at a hotel are not possible, guests must do an in-person visit to Microlabs’ Montego Bay or Kingston offices; testing is done on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only. The cost to get tested at a Microlabs office location is JMD$20,000 (approximately Can$175).
Rapid antigen tests, on the other hand, are provided free of charge on property by a medical provider within three days of departure, with results being made available via email within 48 hours.
LA COLECCION RESORTS
As part of its ‘Travel with Confidence’ program, guests staying at any of La Colección Resorts’ beach properties can take a complimentary antigen test, on site, 36 hours before their departure. Tests are performed by a local lab inside resort facilities and are coordinated with the resort’s concierge. This service will end once the CDC mandate is lifted.
Guests requiring a PCR test can also make arrangements with the concierge 72 hours prior to their departure, at an additional cost. Tests are subject to availability and may be administered off-site, according to each destination.
The Travel with Confidence Protection program also offers full coverage of accidents or illnesses, including COVID-19, from the time of check-in to checkout, as well as telehealth assistance for up to 72 hours, hotel expenses during recovery and 24-hour services, among other benefits, at an extra cost of US$4 per night. Should a get test positive for COVID-19, a substantial discounted nightly rate of US$10 per night (plus taxes), per person, will be offered during quarantine.
PALLADIUM HOTEL GROUP
COVID-19 testing is available at all Palladium Hotel Group properties in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, including its Grand Palladium Hotels & Resorts and TRS Hotels brands.
A PCR test is available to guests travelling to Canada with costs ranging between Can$177-$443. Antigen (rapid) testing is available free of charge for guests travelling to the United States (until April 4, 2021).
Testing is available in the mornings, before noon, at the resorts’ on-site medical centers, with results available by the evening if taken on a weekday, or on Monday if taken during the weekend. Guests are recommended to schedule testing appointments upon arrival, on property.
PLAYA HOTELS & RESORTS
Playa is offering complimentary on-property COVID-19 antigen testing to registered guests returning to the U.S., between Jan. 22 and April 30, 2021, from any of its 17 resorts across Mexico and the Caribbean. PCR tests are also available at negotiated discounts.
If, through no fault of their own, a guest does not receive their test result prior to departure, complimentary room accommodation will be provided from the original departure date through the earliest possible departure after test results are delivered.
Playa is also providing quarantine services for guests who test positive for COVID-19, with up to 50% off for up to 14 days.
SANDOS HOTELS & RESORTS
Antigen tests are being carried out on property, for free, for anyone travelling to or through the United States. PCR tests are being administered at a reduced price. Tests must be done no more than three days before the departure of return flights to the country of origin.
In the event a guest tests positive for COVID-19, an extended stay in an isolation room will be granted at no extra cost at the hotel for 14 days. During this period, guests will be restricted to their room and are not permitted to leave or move to other areas of the hotel; three meals a day and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided.
VIVA WYNDHAM RESORTS
Viva Wyndham Resorts is now offering affordable on-site PCR COVID-19 tests at all its resorts. Guests must visit Guest Services upon arrival for more details on testing and to schedule their appointment to ensure results are ready in time for their departure.