Hotels seeing staycation cancellations following new two-person COVID-19 restriction

Hotels seeing staycation cancellations following new two-person COVID-19 restriction

marriott tang plaza
A room at Marriott Tang Plaza along Orchard Road. (Photo: Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza)

SINGAPORE: Booking cancellations have gone up at some hotels, following the announcement last week that each room may only accommodate up to two guests amid a rise in COVID-19 cases. 

Most of the hotels CNA spoke to also said they have received many queries from guests who had booked rooms for the one-month Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period. 

“Understandably, in response to the new measures by the Government, most hotels at large would have seen cancellations or modifications in staycation reservations - specifically if the bookings include more than two people from different households,” said a spokesman for Marriott International. 

“This trend was also observed across the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of hotels in Singapore, though it has not been a very significant impact over the last few days.” 

There are 11 hotels under Marriott Bonvoy, including the Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, The St Regis Singapore, The Westin and W Singapore Sentosa Cove.

The requests for booking changes have been varied, said the spokesman. 

For example, The Westin saw “a rather balanced split” between guests opting to postpone and those opting to go ahead with their staycations. At W Singapore Sentosa Cove, those who have opted to go ahead “form the minority”, said the spokesman. 

“Based on what we have been seeing since the heightened measures were announced, we expect cancellations and postponements of stays to continue if community cases continue to increase.” 

On May 14, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in an advisory that hotels should not allow more than two individuals, guests and visitors, in each room per day except for where individuals are from the same household. 

This means that families with more than two people who live together can go ahead with their staycation plans. STB later clarified in response to questions from Today that families should split into groups of two people when outside the room. 

This aligns with the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures that took effect on May 16, with the permitted gathering size down from five to two. 

READ: Group sizes down from 5 to 2, dining-in suspended as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures

The new measures are “disappointing”, but “not unexpected”, said a Millennium Hotels and Resorts spokesman. The group operates Orchard Hotel, M Social Singapore, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, Copthorne King’s Hotel, M Hotel and Studio M.

“For staycations, most couples are going ahead with their bookings while family bookings have mostly been postponed to later in the year,” said the spokesman. 

“Those whose bookings are in mid-June are adopting a wait-and-see attitude and will decide nearer the date on their plans. For this period, we will focus on couple staycations and continue to seek out long-stay corporate business.” 

Yotel Singapore at Orchard Road saw an “expected increase” in cancellations, said general manager Brendan Daly. 

“However, it’s not the overnight sharp spike that was expected,” he added. “Our product suits couples and families rather than large groups so this may have something to do with it.” 

The hotel has also received some new bookings, but there’s been a larger decrease in new bookings compared to cancellations, said Mr Daly, noting that guests are probably waiting for restrictions to ease before booking a staycation.

Of the customers who were booked for staycations between May 16 and Jun 13 who contacted the hotel, there was “a 50/50 split” between cancellation and date amendment, he added. 

“If you balance cancellations or amendments and what we would typically pick up in new bookings, then overall guests going ahead would be in the minority.” 

The hotel also expects fewer people to make staycation plans if more COVID-19 cases in the community emerge. “With the F&B restrictions of no dine-in allowed, there’s less reasons to visit the Orchard Road area where we are located,” said Mr Daly. 

Far East Hospitality’s hotels have seen an increase in amendments to their bookings, said its CEO Arthur Kiong. It runs the Village, Quincy, Oasia and Rendezvous brands of hotels.

The hotels are “not seeing the usual interest levels” for new staycation bookings, but there is “still demand” over this period, he added. 

There has also been an increase in inquiries from families looking to book a staycation, said Mr Kiong. The group’s hotels have adapted to the new measures by rolling out new packages with in-room dining experiences among other add-ons, he added. 

“This may be attributed to the upcoming June holidays and the yearning to break from the work-from-home and home-based learning routine to enjoy a getaway. 

“Since overseas travel is still not possible right now, going on a staycation is the best option to allow them to catch a breather and spend quality time as family.” 

READ: New COVID-19 measures in Singapore: What is allowed under the tighter restrictions?

Boutique hotels CNA spoke to saw minimal cancellations, with more guests opting to move the dates of their stay or go ahead with their stay instead. Hotel manager of boutique hotel Lloyd’s Inn Kelvin Soh told CNA that cancellations and amendments formed “only a small fraction” of the staycations booked for the one-month period. 

About 88 per cent of guests who had booked rooms for this one-month period opted to go ahead while observing the two-person rule, said Mr Soh. 

“We expect cancellations to continue if the community cases continue to rise - this is normal as people take precautions,” he added. 

“However, at the same time, with the measures limited to same household family members (and) two people (couples) allowed to staycation, we are still likely to see staycation bookings coming in.”

Luxury boutique hotel Naumi Singapore “did observe anxiety” when the tightened measures were announced on May 14, said general manager Viri Kaur, adding that the hotel received “numerous calls” about what facilities would be available throughout this period. 

“The demographics of our hotel are primarily profiles of couples wanting a romantic getaway and creatives or friends who usually book a room for two guests. As such we are comfortable in complying with the two guests per room requirement and are confident with a pent up demand for staycations especially with the extension of SRV (SingapoRediscover) vouchers,” she added. 

Two per cent of bookings were cancelled on the first two days following the announcement as guests were unsure if staycations were still allowed, said Ms Kaur. 

“As more information and clarification was provided, we are now seeing a positive trend for bookings for this month onwards. These cancellations have now preferred to defer their staycation plans and we look forward to welcoming them soon,” she added. 

Two per cent of guests who had booked staycations with the hotel in May moved their reservations to after mid-June, said Ms Kaur, adding that the hotel is “exercising flexibility” for date change or cancellation requests.

“We expect to see an increase in change of dates but not high trends of cancellations as our local community is still interested in activities locally and seem to trend towards boutique hotels for less crowds.” 

Source: CNA/hw(hs)

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