Boris optimistic about summer holidays
With travel shaming getting out of control, it’s nice to have some positive news about travel. This week Captain Tom who is a national hero, in my opinion, has been the target of online travel shaming after reports that he is in hospital with COVID. What has the world come to when people start targeting a 100-year-old man who was invited to realise his lifetime dream and visit Barbados by the government there. He visited on 11 December when London was in tier 2. At that point there was no ban on travel, tier 4 didn’t even exist and the new UK variant had not been officially announced.
Many politicians have been adding fuel to the burning funeral pyre of travel and aviation recently by discouraging people from booking summer holidays. I strongly disagree with this, there is nothing wrong with dreaming of a summer holiday providing you can get your money back or move your holiday if it doesn’t happen. Right now we all need hope amongst the constant deluge of bad news.
At this point, nobody really knows what the next 6 months will bring, but we all hope that things will only get better as we continue to vaccinate at great speed. I am pleased to say I now have my vaccine appointment this week as an extremely vulnerable person!
Boris speaking today gave some welcome positive thoughts.
“I don’t want to give too much concrete by way of dates for our summer holidays. I am optimistic – I understand the reasons for being optimistic – but some things have got to go right.
“The vaccine programme has got to continue to be successful.
“We have got to make sure we don’t get thrown off course by new variants, we have got to make sure that we continue to keep the disease under control and the level of infections come down.”
The Prime Minister also mentioned that he will give people more certainty of dates for things such as holidays when the government releases the roadmap for reopening the country around 22 February (the roadmap, not the reopening).
New look for Sheraton hotels
Many years ago Sheraton hotels used to be viewed as luxury hotels but over the years the brand has been neglected and suffered from a real identity. Now that it has become part of Marriott, they are relaunching the brand and have just revealed the first hotel with a new look.
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts unveiled the initial hotels around the world showcasing the brand’s new vision: Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, USA; Sheraton Denver Downtown, USA; Sheraton Tel Aviv, Israel; Sheraton Grand Dubai, UAE; Sheraton Guangzhou, China, and Sheraton Mianyang, China.
Following Marriott International’s announcement in 2018 of its plans to refresh the iconic brand for today’s travelers, the completion of the renovations at these hotels is an important milestone in the brand’s reinvention. Over 40 hotels around the world expected to reflect the new brand vision by the end of 2022. Reading through the information it seems like there is a very heavy business focus on the new Sheraton’s and I presume that Sheraton’s that are more leisure based such as the rather lovely Sheraton Dubrovnik, will not be on the list to be renovated to the new style.
“This is a pivotal moment for Sheraton as we see hotel owners embracing the new vision and bringing it to life for the first time,” said Amanda Nichols, Senior Director and Global Brand Leader of Sheraton Hotels. “Over the past 80 years, Sheraton has always offered guests the time-honored assurance of a welcoming community. We’re proud to have built on this legacy in the new concept, creating an environment where guests can enjoy all the familiar comforts of the Sheraton brand, but with fresh, contemporary updates. As travel resumes, we look forward to welcoming guests into this new chapter for Sheraton.”
A Modern-Day “Public Square”
At the heart of the new Sheraton experience is the lobby. This has been re-imagined as the “Public Square” of the hotel. The press release, in typical flowery style, describes it as” a holistic, open space that invites people to join together or be alone amongst others, creating a sense of energy and belonging. With a flow that is natural, intuitive and uncomplicated, guests have what they need within arm’s reach, all set against an inviting backdrop that feels warm and comfortable yet refined.”
Built into the new design are signature elements such as the Community Table, an inviting, purpose-built workspace that will anchor each hotel’s lobby and allow guests to work, eat and drink while soaking up the energy of the space. Following Sheraton’s philosophy to embrace both form and function, these tables are custom designed with amenities to keep guests productive, including built-in lighting, outlets and wireless charging stations. Obviously at the moment a community table is probably not the best choice, but hopefully in future times it won’t be an issue.
The Studios are flexible gathering spaces available to book whenever a guest needs it. Built on raised platforms and enclosed with glass, the tech-enabled Studios provide privacy for everything from small group meetings to private dining experiences. Soundproof booths are also strategically placed throughout the lobby, perfect for a spontaneous phone call to connect privately with friends, family or colleagues from afar. Now this aspect I really welcome and I’d love them to copy this in airport lounges!!
Sheraton’s new food & beverage philosophy creates a focal point in the lobby experience. Part bar, part coffee bar, part market, the Coffee Bar Bar is a central pillar of the new Sheraton vision, with food & beverage options that are locally-sourced, easy to consume while working and customizable to accommodate all tastes and time schedules.
Guest Rooms & Club Lounges That Champion Productivity
In the new guest rooms, there are soft finishes and light wood tones accentuated with black metal accents. The rooms have been redesigned with new tools for productivity, such as a height-adjustable work table, integrated power and charging, and layered lighting; while still retaining some of the classic Sheraton signature amenities, including the luxurious Sheraton Sleep Experience platform bed. The guest bathroom has also been completely redesigned with new and modern walk-in showers and bath amenities by Gilchrist & Soames.
The Sheraton Club Lounge, an exclusive space for Marriott Bonvoy Elite members and Sheraton Club level guests, has also undergone an upgrade as part of the transformation. Guests will find updated food and beverage offerings, premium amenities, enhanced connectivity, and 24/7 access to provide a private environment.
There are currently 446 Sheraton hotels in 74 countries and territories around the world, making it Marriott International’s most global brand. In 2021, Sheraton Hotels will continue on its transformation journey, with the brand expecting to showcase new guest experience programs and complete renovations in locations including Nashville, USA; Toronto, Canada; Nice, France; Kiev, Ukraine; and Xi’an, China.
Heathrow trial testing for employees
Even though air travel has been proved to be relatively safe, one of the concerns is also that of getting to the aircraft. While social distancing is in place at Heathrow and other airports, having staff tested seems a very sensible way forward.
Heathrow is working with NHS Test & Trace on a Government-led colleague testing pilot. The pilot will use rapid lateral flow tests to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the airport. This pilot is designed to support measures already in place to keep the airport COVID-secure, help stop the spread of the new more contagious strain of the virus and provide valuable insight into how rapid testing can be more widely deployed across Britain to keep vital services such as critical national infrastructure running.
One in three people with coronavirus do not display symptoms, meaning they are at risk of unknowingly spreading the virus to others – particularly when they are unable to work from home. This pilot sets out to understand how routine testing might be used to help identify asymptomatic cases of COVID in the airport’s workforce. These devices can provide test results in as little as 20 minutes. The short turnaround time will make it quicker and easier to identify and isolate positive cases.
These pilots build on the measures that Heathrow has already put in place to keep passengers and colleagues safe. In the past year, the airport has invested in UV robots, UV handrail technology and anti-viral wraps to quickly and efficiently kill viruses and bacteria. The airport has also rolled out Perspex screens, hand sanitiser dispensers, hygiene technicians, COVID marshals to assist with social distancing and the mandatory use of face coverings.
This Government-led pilot will take place over four weeks initially and will involve around 2,000 Heathrow colleagues.
Understanding how new technologies can be used to regularly screen large numbers of people with quick results is key to the Government’s plans to rollout mass testing across society. These pilots will help to ensure the country has the resource needed to keep the UK’s critical national infrastructure open and operational. The pilot at Heathrow will help the Government to better understand where to best use the technology and how it can be operationalised in the real world; helping the public to go back to as normal a way of life as possible.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “We’re pleased to be working with the Government on this pilot testing scheme which goes even further to protect our colleagues and the other key workers who are keeping the country moving through this crisis. This pilot will support us as we work to keep the UK’s biggest port running smoothly, helping to facilitate essential journeys and the movement of cargo.”