We’re working closely with hotels and partners to ensure your trip is as safe and comfortable as possible. Here’s what you can expect.

After a period of closure, hotels and travel experiences are starting to re-open to guests.  We’re thrilled to see so many of our close partners gearing back up after this prolonged pauseMany have used the closure period as an opportunity to rethink their cleaning and health & safety practices in order to mitigate any risks of transmission going forward. This is something we welcome whole-heartedly. 

Of course, the post-COVID travel experience will necessarily be different than it was previously, as the entire industry renews its commitment to the health & safety of its guests and staff.  These new procedures and protocols aim to not only reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus – or indeed any other communicable disease – but will also in many cases enhance the guest experience for those looking for a private escape by reducing crowds and ensuring heightened levels of privacy and space. 

We’ve been impressed by the efforts our partners have taken to meet and exceed new government-mandated standards for operation, as well as the creativity many have shown in offering new services and innovations to make the guest experience even better than it was before. 

Here, we have collated the below information as a general resource, but as with all aspects of our service, we tailor your whole itinerary with an understanding that every traveller is different.  When planning an itinerary, our travel experts will want to know exactly what you’re comfortable with – from check ins, to who guides you and how, to what dining experiences you are happy with.  The below is meant to be a starting point for further discussion, so please share any thoughts or questions with your travel expert. 

FAQs

What are the new regulations?

As always, hotels and service providers are obligated to meet the operating standards of their local government authorities – local governments have responded to the challenges around coronavirus by enacting new regulations to prevent viral transmission.  The specific standards vary from location to location, but generally include new protocols for cleaning (particularly focused on more frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas and high touch surfaces, as well as longer gaps in hotel room occupancy), social distancing (one-way flows of foot traffic, seating in common spaces separated by 2m, contactless check-ins), and symptom testing of both staff and guests (e.g., temperature checks with a touch-free thermometer).   

Beyond this, several global bodies have offered their own guidelines for post-COVID operation. The WHO has issued guidelines specifically around accommodation providers here. The World Travel and Tourism Council has also issued its own guidelines and certification stamp here.

Further, most accommodation and service providers are publishing and enacting their own procedures that far exceed the standards set out above.  

What is Black Tomato requiring of its partners to help keep its clients safe?

Black Tomato asks its partners to confirm they are adhering to the guidelines issued by their local authority as well as the WHO or WTTC standard (at minimum).  We are also asking accommodation and service providers to share their own Covid-19 preparedness documents, which we will then share in turn with our clients for their own review, so that they can make the most informed judgement possible regarding the risks of their specific trip 

What should I expect will be different when I travel again?

Changes to the travel experience will vary widely by destination and the nature of your itinerary, but we have listed a few key themes and examples below to help travellers visualise what the experience will look like.   

Some things to expect – All settings: 

  • Face coverings may be requested or required when 2m social distancing is not practical (with exceptions made for very young children – typically under age 6 – or those with breathing difficulties). While these may be made available in some settings, we recommend clients travel with their own face coverings  
  • Contactless temperature checks may be conducted when entering a building  
  • Travellers will generally be asked to maintain social distance of approximately 2m (6 feet) wherever possible 
  • More hand sanitising and hand-washing stations will be made available and their use may be requested or required  
  • More frequent surface cleaning, especially of high-touch areas, may be undertaken 
  • Travellers may be asked to queue before entering a building (hotel, shop, place of interest) to ensure adequate social distancing 

Some things to expect – Airports & Airplanes: 

  • While regulations vary, face coverings may be required in the airport or onboard 
  • Travellers may be requested to check all baggage except essentials to reduce hand luggage and minimise associated security checks and surface contacts 
  • Food & beverage offerings may be limited in both the airport and onboard your flight. You may wish to bring additional provisions with you 
  • On arrival in a new destination, travellers may be asked to download a contact tracing app  

Some things to expect – Accommodation: 

  • Check-in processes may be modified to reduce contact between reception staff and guests – this might include paperless check-ins, keyless room entry, and payments accepted only by credit card (no cash)  
  • You may be asked to pre-book a time slot for breakfast or other meals, and buffets may be discontinued 
  • Hotel entry may be restricted to in-house guests 
  • Some facilities may operate at a reduced capacity or have restricted maximum occupancy (e.g., swimming pools, spas)  
  • Some non-essential items may be removed from rooms, including magazines and brochures 
  • Hotel staff (particularly cleaning staff) may wear additional PPE 
  • You may be asked whether you would like daily maid-service or turndown or prefer not to have these  

Some things to expect – Dining:  

  • Tables spaced further apart; reduced maximum occupancy; more secluded or outdoor dining settings 
  • Reduced use of paper menus (content shared via posted menus or electronically via apps or QR codes) 
  • Some restaurants may offer a less formal style of service – for example, diners may be asked if they would like to pour their own water and wine  

Some things to expect – Vehicles, drivers and guides:  

  • Larger vehicles may be used to facilitate social distancing between driver and passengers 
  • Vehicle occupancy may be reduced to facilitate social distancing
  • Guides and drivers may avoid opening doors for passengers to maintain an appropriate distance 
  • Where practical, we will seek to assign the same driver or guide across multiple days to reduce additional contacts.  

What if I’d like to take other precautions?

Our objective is to make you as comfortable as possible during your travels. We will review and share preparations in place for your itinerary, but are also happy to make additional requests to increase your overall comfort (for example, you might want us to request that your guide does not set up a gourmet picnic for you, but instead leaves you to remove items from the basket yourself).   

What additional items do you recommend I pack?

We suggest you consider bringing the following with you on your trip: 

  • Personal face coverings (highly recommended) – these do not need to be medical grade but should cover the nose and mouth  
  • Hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes – while these will be made widely available in travel settings, you may wish to have your own on hand too  
  • Portable chargers – new procedures may require downloading of QR codes & apps, so make sure your devices remain charged 
  • Additional snacks – especially for flights or long journeys 
  • If travelling with children, additional games, books and toys to keep little ones occupied in the event of longer wait times or other delays  

What are some of the benefits I can expect when travelling post-Covid?

We hope the post-COVID travel experience will be significantly enhanced by some of the new procedures being introduced. For example: 

  • Many hotels are offering complimentary ‘dine anywhere’ or private dining options they would previously have charged for  
  • Some properties are introducing fun new innovative service offerings – from a bartender to prepare drinks outside your room to wilderness fitness classes 
  • Tourist destinations are likely to be much less busy than before due to maximum occupancy limits  
  • Travel industry workers are eager to welcome visitors back to their destinations – their gratitude to returning travellers will be genuinely heartfelt 

What else should I be aware of?

While everyone in the travel industry is making their absolute best efforts to reduce the risk of viral transmission, travel is never completely risk-free. Please ensure your travel insurance adequately covers your itinerary by speaking with your insurance provider.  

We also urge you to review the health & safety information provided to ensure you are aware of the precautions being taken and comfortable with the level of care being taken.    

Please don’t hesitate to contact your Travel Expert if you have any questions about the above guidance or your particular itinerary 

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