Wondering what travelling is like today? When will you be ready to go back? This may help! I’ll give you an update on airline travel, hotel protocols, and dining.
Every January-March, while I am excited and energized to start a new business year, our weather starts to wear me down. Add in the boredom of 4pm sunsets, reruns on tv, and bundling up like snowmen, you can easily get full-fledged cabin fever! You can only do so many crafts or binge Netflix shows. For me, I keep dreaming of travel... I shop for deals, I watch virtual travel tours, and price out options... I think I get almost as much enjoyment out of this shopping and dreaming process as I do on a real vacation...
So, after several weeks of that, I finally found what I thought was a deal that fit my needs... a great resort, fabulous pools and an ocean beach, and a value price... Well, looking back not sure it was 100% on all those!
So here is what travelling today looked like in early March, in case you are considering travel, but just not sure if you are ready!
We set out for The Fountainebleau on Miami Beach on Saturday March 6th, 2021.
**FLYING All airports we were in (4 total) were 100% mask compliant! Inside the airports AND inside the planes... When we flew in September, travelers had to be reminded, and sometimes strongly reprimanded to put their mask on properly and keep it on. This time, everyone was “onboard”, please excuse the pun! The difference was their verbal instructions were from strict and stern, to light and cajoling.... “Come on, you know we have to wear them, so just keep them on, unless you’re eating or drinking.” It was interesting to compare how different airlines handled the Covid challenges.
* We flew United Airlines from Milwaukee to Houston, and then on to Miami. I know... seems out of the way, but today, you have to make choices. I could have flown a more direct route, but then I’d arrive at 8pm, instead of 3pm.... It’s all about choices! Well, let me tell you United has it going on! And this is how well they have handled Covid Concerns:
CLEANING Even though they had already done the “electrostatic cleaning” before we got on the plane, the flight attendant was greeting you as usual, but at the same time they handed you a sealed sanitizing towelette, so you could make sure your seat and area were cleaned under your own standards.
SNACKS & BEVERAGES Once settled on the plane, they handed out drawstring plastic bags that had a small bottle of water, napkin, pack of cookies and pretzels. Nothing major but something to snack on.
DEPLANING Come time to deplane, we were given strict instructions. We would be leaving in an orderly fashion. We were told to remain seated until our row was next to leave. We could then get up, and leave... similar to a wedding... very polite and orderly, and people did it!
On returning, we flew American and I can’t say that was any different now with covid...
Stepping on the plane, I happened to notice there was a box of sanitizer towelettes you could take. They were not offered, just sitting there.
NO SNACKS OR BEVERAGES on this 2-hour flight... Having had the snack bag from United Airlines, I felt like American was just saving a buck using the virus as an excuse.
Deplaning was the usual pushing and shoving, and no spacing!
The Fontainebleau Hotel was well organized to keep guests safe. And they were vigilant to suggest compliance!
Upon arrival, the front doors had directions for one way in and one way out... When you entered, you were stopped at a small kiosk with an iPad type device that scanned your face like an infrared camera and “took your temperature.” You were given one of those plastic bracelets (think water park) and then cleared to proceed to the front desk to check in. If you didn’t have a mask on, the attendant had a full box and gave you one to put on.
At the registration desk, you were then given the plastic wristband. THAT was the signal that you had passed the Temperature Testing Station successfully. From that point on, when you left, you’d reenter through the one designated door, the attendant at the temperature station would see your bracelet and pass you through. Only one temp check at the beginning of your stay was required.
MASKS: As a hotel guest you were asked to wear your mask in any of the public spaces. At various main intersections of the hotel, there would be staff, standing and reminding passing guests to wear their masks, and if they didn’t have one, the attendant would offer one of the many they had at the ready. Most guests were considerate and observed the rules. The poolscape and beach were a different matter. Once you secured a pool or beach chair, the masks pretty much came off. Not because the chairs were spaced 6 feet apart, because they weren’t. It just seemed unnatural to be in swimwear and wearing masks, but then again, wearing a respirator in ICU isn’t natural either... When people got up and walked around, masks sometimes came back out, but not that often.
Travel Dining: There were huge variations in dining during travel, from hard to find, to long waits...patience was definitely required, and I definitely feel for restaurants trying to recover from Covid changes, the new rules of the game, and the shortage of workers coming back! I tip more now than ever, just to help them in a tiny way to recover from months of no wages.
Many places were open in the airports, but quite a few were still empty from the covid decrease in travelers. Lines were definitely longer due to fewer options.
Restaurants in town were open for business, limited seating, reservations required, and not many had openings... we ended up eating less meals each day because of that. When I tried to get into the Versace Mansion restaurant, they were booked out for 3 weeks. Had I known it existed, I’d have booked earlier. It looks amazing, they have 3 restaurants, including one outside by the mansions pool... Next time!
HOTEL RESTAURANTS: Some were open, but limited hours. When you did find one open, they may be a long wait to get in. Once in, you saw lots of empty tables, like 80% it seemed to me. When I asked, we were told, that it’s not only a distancing issue, but more of a staffing issue... Many workers are not coming back to restaurant service after Covid. That will affect all restaurants for some time. Last week I saw a news report on the growth in the Amazon shopping services, and when interviewing the warehouse workers packing orders, 2 commented they had been in restaurant service and will NOT be going back... Amazon proved more reliable when it came to hours.
ROOM SERVICE: At this particular hotel, room service was up and running, but only for breakfast. Nothing after 11am.
HOTEL STAYS: In general, hotels were totally different last fall, and still so in March. The rooms had been cleaned and sanitized before your arrival, and to put your worries at ease, they had stickers covering the edge of the door and the door frame “sealing” the entry till the guest arrived. The guest broke the seal, knowing they were the first to enter the room since cleaning.
CLEANING: Speaking of cleaning, there was no daily cleaning, bedmaking or freshening of towels. IF you needed anything, they would gladly bring it, but to limit other people (and germs) in your room, there was no housekeeping... I think that’s the thing I missed the most. The staff can make a bed almost as good as a recruit at Army boot camp!
TOURS: Ours were still operating, and due to low travel numbers, we lucked out on the tour we took, it turned into a private tour as no one else had booked that day! We got to name the spots we stopped, lingered, jumped out for photos, and where the guide and driver would end and drop us off!
We will be travelling again next month as the summer tourist season opens... It will be interesting to see how things are improving! Hopefully with more people vaccinated, and some rules lightening up, more restaurants will be open, tours taking place, and museums open for business! Stay tuned, I will let you know!
Pat Tasker, CRS is a top producing Realtor in the Greater Milwaukee Wi area. Born and raised in Milwaukee and now living in the suburbs she knows the area well and it’s a key to helping buyers and sellers move in and out of the area. You can connect with Pat Tasker on most social channels, including Facebook where Pat shares all things Milwaukee and beyond through posts and video.
Curious on what traveling looks like during Covid? Here's my experience.