The Hotel Punta Diamante, in Santander, explains how they have adapted to receive guests and how they will define luxury in the post-Coronavirus era.
Next September 1st, Colombia will open its highways and airports again as a first step towards the recovery of tourism and the economy after five months of closure as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.
From now on, hotels and restaurants are preparing to receive their clients again, as long as they comply with the biosecurity measures established by the National Government to guarantee that the virus does not spread. The challenge, experts and members of the sector have said, will be to continue offering rest and luxury services even with the new protocols of distancing and security. How can this be achieved?
Forbes visited the Hotel Punta Diamante, located on the outskirts of Bucaramanga, in Santander, considered the most relevant luxury hotel in the east of the country, which opened its doors with a reduced capacity and only 25% of its employees.
María Alejandra Castillo, manager of the hotel, explained that within the new measures, “the capacity of restaurants and common areas was reduced and massive experiences such as spas and swimming pools were exchanged for individual experiences of the same level”.
The eye is on exclusivity and security, two aspects that travelers are asking as a guarantee for their visits, “the biggest concern of tourists became how to relax without being exposed to contagion,” says Castillo.
To respond to these needs, hand in hand with expert firms in biosecurity and taking advantage of experiences in other countries, Punta Diamante decided to implement a strict cleaning protocol in rooms and shared spaces. The rooms, for example, spend five days free between one guest and another, with the aim of ensuring that there will be no exposure of any kind to the virus. “We also carry out cleaning processes with ozone and ultraviolet light, which allow us to sanitize spaces that we would never have considered in a pre-Covid environment,” adds the manager.
The use of mouthpieces became an indispensable requirement for customers and employees, and anti-bacterial gel dispensers were installed throughout the facilities. As for the service and administrative staff, the use of exclusive transportation routes has been privileged, in order to avoid contact with public transportation.
Personalization, the new concept of luxury
In order to eliminate crowding in restaurants and meeting places, Punta Diamante created the role of ‘experience manager’, a person dedicated 24 hours a day to program the activities that guests will perform inside and outside the hotel to distribute in controlled bands the use of those spaces and improve the attention.
“Before, people only went down and entered the restaurant of their choice. With the new provisions what we do is send the letter via WhatsApp, take your order by that means, prepare your table in the way they prefer and at the time they choose and so we know how many people we will have in the restaurant while offering an even more personalized and close,” adds the manager.
The green and open spaces became the main allies of this new normality. They have installed extensions of the restaurants and spaces to do activities that complement the offer inside the place. In the case of Punta Diamante, visitors will be able to access the Ruitoque golf club, a condominium that houses the hotel, and take personalized classes or walks around the exclusive course.
To continue offering relaxation services, in Santander they resorted to the installation of small spas in personalized suites for couples or single persons, including bio-security protocols.
Finally, services that were previously attractive, such as wet and relaxation areas, will continue to be offered but in a private and exclusive manner. This hotel resorted to the adaptation of some of its main suites to install massage, chocolate therapy, hydrotherapy and other services.
“We know that people will look for ways to have those comforts that now we cannot offer as before due to biosecurity reasons. What we want to say is that they will be able to have them exclusively. In the case of the spas, we can say that we now have suites with mini relaxation spaces suitable for couples or single people, with all the necessary furniture to do so and with the staff properly protected with anti-fluid suits and other protocols,” explains María Alejandra Castillo.
Thus, “what remains is to wait for people to be encouraged to join this new normality with the confidence that they will be safe,” the manager concludes. Like Bucaramanga, other cities in the country are already moving forward in the reactivation of tourism, taking advantage of the green light given by the Presidency of the Republic.