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Cruises

Club Med Launches 'Safe Together' Initiative, Florida Reopening Flash Sale

Club Med today released details of its newly-developed ‘Safe Together’ commitment ahead of the reopening of its all-inclusive resorts in Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean, and affirmed its updated Free Cancellation Policy to provide further flexibility and peace-of-mind to anyone booking their Club Med vacation through December 2020.

In North America, Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Florida, will be the brand’s first resort to welcome back its valued GMs (that’s Club Med-speak for “guests,” from the original “Gentils Membres”), starting Friday, June 12, 2020, to enjoy their favorite beachside experiences in the safest manner possible.

Flash Sale

Situated along the St. Lucie River, surrounded by lush vegetation and enjoying a wonderfully tropical climate, Sandpiper Bay is the ideal Club Med Resort for an active family vacation, filled with outdoor delights. It’s also located about a 90-minute drive away from both Orlando and Miami, where all kinds of attractions draw visitors, as well as a short drive away from West Palm Beach.

Today, Club Med also launched a Flash Sale on Sandpiper Bay bookings, offering free stays for kids under twelve, and 50 percent off adults on reservations made before June 3 for travel between June 13 and December 18, 2020.

Free Cancellations

To provide ultimate booking flexibility and promote peace-of-mind, Club Med has also introduced its ‘Book with Confidence’ free cancellation policy on all new reservations made between May 18 and December 18, 2020. It guarantees guests a full refund on their stays, provided that they cancel before fifteen days prior to their planned check-in date.

In conjunction, an enhanced ‘Best Rate Guarantee’ means that, if guests should find a lower price offered on the same travel dates, they’re eligible to receive a Future Travel Certificate for the value of that price difference, applicable on their next booking.

‘Safe Together’ Commitment

Since its founding in 1950, Club Med has specialized in the development of low-density resorts, each integrated with care and respect for its unique natural environment, and with a focus on active, outdoor enjoyment, leaving plenty of space to practice social distancing in the post-pandemic era.

“We understand expectations on health and safety have shifted, and after a long period of social distancing people will want to revisit places they are familiar with and trust,” said Carolyne Doyon, President and CEO of Club Med North America. “Club Med has a 70-year-long legacy delivering a thoughtful and safe vacation experience. As our resorts reopen, we will maintain the Club Med atmosphere, which is an integral part of our DNA, while also keeping safety and hygiene as our top priorities.”

‘Safe Together’ represents a fresh set of health and safety practices, developed by an International Scientific Committee consisting of doctors and professors, and in alignment with guidelines set by global health authorities. The company will modify its operations at all properties to ensure the health and safety of guests, while still preserving the beloved “Club Med Spirit” for which the brand is known.

Health and Safety Provisions

Hygiene:

—Capping resort capacity at 65 percent

—Plexiglass barriers installed on all service counters

—Digital and in-app services, including check-in, spa bookings and in-room service requests

—Staff required to wear face coverings indoors, during cleaning or food preparation

—Temperature checks for employees at the start of every shift

—Temperature checks for guests upon check-in and periodically throughout stays

—Increased frequency of deep-cleanings for all high-touch surface and public areas

—Hand-sanitizer available throughout the resort properties

—Doctor or nurse available 24/7

Dining:

—Increased opening hours at all dining locations, enabling lower occupancy levels

—More distance between tables and more outdoor dining capacity added

—Focus on single plates and custom-prepared dishes

Kids’ Clubs:

—Every child temperature-checked twice per day

—Hand-washing for all children organized hourly

—Focus on outdoor activities

—Ongoing deep-sanitization and disinfection of all toys, equipment and high-touch surfaces after each use

Activities:

—Fan-favorite sporting activities (e.g. tennis, golf, kayaking, yoga, sailing, flying trapeze, etc.) will operate under strict sanitization processes carried out between users

—Yoga and fitness classes will be held outdoors

—Event entertainment and resort programming will consist of smaller-scale events and make prime use of Club Med’s outdoor spaces. Examples include live concerts or DJ sets, sunset acoustic music performances on the beach, acrobatic displays above the pool and family movie nights held in the open air under the stars.

For more information, visit clubmed.us.

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Destinations

Halekulani launches 7th season of Living TV

Waikiki resort Halekulani has released a new season of Living TV, a series of video documentaries that explore the traditions, culture, art, style and food of Hawaii. 

The new season includes episodes that highlight spearfishing and its current practitioners on the Islands, go inside the Honolulu Potter’s Guild originally founded in the 1960s, and profile a Oahu photographer who has revived an obscure form of portraiture called the collodion wet-plate process.

In all, the “Living TV” series encompasses 35 episodes across seven seasons. Previous episodes have covered the story behind a Honolulu club dedicated to the legacy of the Japanese kendo sword, the traditional Hawaiian practice of kapa cloth making, and the centuries-old practice of collecting sea salt.

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Cruises

AIC Hotel Group Launches Enhanced Cleanliness Protocols

AIC Hotel Group today announced a set of enhanced operational protocols that will be implemented on top of the company’s existing, internationally-recognized sanitation standards. Specifically, these changes are coming to its properties throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic: the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels, the UNICO 20 87 Hotel Riviera Maya and Nobu Hotel Los Cabos.

While AIC has set these standards as a baseline, each hotel can be contacted for information on its own customized enhancements to sanitation and preventive protocols and procedures.

The all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels have also globally implemented their new ‘Hard Rock SAFE + SOUND’ program, powered by Ecolab, while UNICO 20 87 Hotel Riviera Maya has dubbed its own heightened health and safety program ‘S.A.F.E.’ (safe and friendly environment). All are established in alignment with current best practices and guidelines put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“As our industry gears up for its return, it is imperative we take every necessary additional precaution to keep our guests and employees safe,” said Frank Maduro, AIC Hotel Group’s Vice President of Marketing. “Our hotel teams have worked hand in hand with local and national authorities, while adhering to globally recognized guidelines to devise a number of added measures to provide a world-class vacation experience.”

Procedures, Protocols and Preventive Measures:

Guest and Employee Health: Hand-sanitizing stations will be installed throughout hotels, with visual signage placed prominently both in guest areas and back-of-house as reminders to follow important guidelines like frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. Steps will be taken to minimize person-to-person contact and a doctor will continue to be onsite 24/7 to provide care, as needed.

Employee Protocols: Staff will be closely monitored for symptoms and receive temperature checks daily, and be required to wear such personal protective equipment (PPE) as befits their role. All employees will undergo thorough training on newly-enhanced cleanliness regulations, and are being trained to identify any viral symptoms and follow firm protocols for reporting to medical officials.

Cleaning and Sanitation: Cleaning products used in the hotels are approved for use by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, and are effective against viruses, bacteria, and other airborne and bloodborne pathogens. Hotels are performing more frequent disinfections and deep-cleanings of common areas, public spaces, guest rooms and back-of-house areas, especially of high-contact points or surfaces.

Physical Distancing: Guests and employees will be required to distance socially at least six feet apart from other parties not traveling with them. Standing in lines, waiting for elevators, walking in the hotel or on the grounds and limited elevator capacities would constitute examples. Furniture in all common areas has been resituated to accommodate the increased spacing requirements, including redesigned meetings-and-events layouts.

Guest Experience: Definite protocols have been put in place to protect guests and employees at every step of the guest experience. Enhanced measures extend to the in-house transfer company, luggage disinfection, thermal-scanner temperature, a pristine check-in process, strictly enforced hygiene and physical distancing practices throughout the spa, salon, fitness center, pool and beach areas, entertainment venues and more.

Food and Beverage: The hotels will continue to employ internationally-recognized systems for identifying and reducing food safety risks, such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), and strictly adhere to global brand standards, as well as compliance with respected third-party standards like NSF. Buffet and teppanyaki services have been removed, while in-room dining will now offer enhanced menu options and contactless service.

For more information, visit aichotelgroup.com

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Cruises

AMResorts Launches 360-Degree Resort Safety and Sanitation Program

In preparation for the reopening of its 58 beautiful, luxurious, all-inclusive, beachfront properties, which can be found throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Panama, AMResorts is introducing its new CleanComplete Verification program. This comprehensive, 360-degree quality, safety and hygiene system is backed by one of the industry’s highest-level, third-party certifications for quality and safety—Cristal International Standards.

The fresh, targeted health and safety initiative will work to further elevate existing standards of quality and cleanliness universally across AMResorts’ portfolio of brands: Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Zoëtry, Now, Reflect, Sunscape, and Alua Hotels & Resorts.

Additionally, every property is implementing Cristal’s ‘Prevention of the Spread of Infection’ (POSI) audit protocol, one of the industry’s most advanced third-party verification standards, and AMResorts is among the first companies to employ these standards specifically to satisfy the demands of a post-COVID-19 world.

All AMResorts-branded properties will also implement Cristal’s FoodCheck Certification processes, adhering to the certified and audited food-safety practices outlined in the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) management system, an internationally-recognized set of guidelines for reducing the risk of safety, quality and health hazards in foods.

“As the world reopens to a new normal and travelers begin to plan vacations once again, the health and safety of guests remains a top priority through these elevated efforts,” said Gonzalo del Peón, AMResorts’ President. “Guests should feel well-informed and reassured knowing that AMResorts-branded properties have implemented best-in-class practices.”

To protect guests along every stage of their journey, the CleanComplete Verification addresses:

Check-In Procedures – Upon arrival at their resort, guests will receive temperature checks at hygienic check-in stations. Heightened sanitation procedures include the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer for those handling luggage and hourly cleaning of lobby areas with high-grade disinfectants.

Room Cleaning Procedures – To meet the highest possible hygiene and cleaning standards for individual guest rooms, staff will follow the Cristal RoomCheck verification. Information for guests on sanitation practices will be available on in-room tablets, printouts and resort TV stations.

Resort-wide Sanitation Protocols – Elevated sanitation considerations will be addressed and cleaning protocols heightened throughout all areas of AMResorts’ properties, paying particular attention to such high-contact spaces as elevators, staircases, public areas and restrooms, and increased disinfection of sports equipment and spa facilities. Guest seating, including beach and pool loungers, will also be adequately distanced in accordance with official recommendations.

Kids’ Club Spaces – All Explorer’s Club and Core Zone facilities will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected routinely during operating hours, as well as prior to opening and after closing. Precautionary temperature checks will be required for all youngsters prior to entering kids’ club areas.

Food and Beverage Protocols – All restaurants and bars will feature social-distanced seating arrangements, with tables and chairs being sanitized throughout operating hours. Menu options will be presented on boards or by scanning QR codes on guests’ mobile devices. A-la-carte menu options will be made available in buffet restaurants, and staff members will now dish out buffet options while wearing masks, changing food tongs every 20 minutes and relying on sneeze barriers. Room service is also a great option for the delivery of individual, covered portions, prepared and served in a hygienic manner.

Check-Out Procedures – Guests will use an express check-out process prior to departing to reduce face-to-face service interactions.

AMResorts has also established new staff positions, responsible for overseeing the advanced health and sanitation measures defined under its CleanComplete Verification program. All employees are provided with updated wellness training to ensure that they adhere to the steps needed to protect their own health and safety, as well of that of guests.

For more information, visit info.amresorts.com/cleancomplete.

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Destinations

Jamaica Launches Free Online Training for Tourism Workers

Jamaica has announced a substantial investment in its tourism sector with the launch of a free online training program for tourism workers affected by the negative impact of COVID-19.

The Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI) in partnership with highly-respected American trade associations, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), as well as Jamaica’s Human Employment and Resource Training-National Service Training Agency (HEART-NSTA Trust) will deliver online training and certification courses.

With global travel coming to a halt during the COVID-19 crisis, approximately 75 percent of Jamaica’s tourist sector has become unemployed. While most of these tourism workers will be reemployed in a few months, Jamaica is putting the resources in place to fortify the industry for a strong economic future.

“The Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world and tourism accounts for nearly 11 percent of global GDP. In the case of Jamaica, we are very proud that the program has been so well-received by our hospitality workers. There is no better time than now for them to retool and up-skill,” said Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett. “It is a smart investment in staying resilient, which will pay handsome dividends when the tourism sector returns to normal. It is a demonstration of the importance of the Government’s Human Capital Development strategy.”

Over 6,500 users have registered since the program launched last week. Classes began on April 27 and the 11 free online courses are aimed to hone tourism workers’ skills and improve their qualifications. The courses are as follows: Laundry Attendant, Guest Room Attendant, Kitchen Steward Porter, ServSafe Training in Food Safety, Certified Hospitality Supervisor, Introduction to Spanish, Public Area Sanitation, Hospitality Team Leader, Certified Banquet Server, Certified Restaurant Server, and DJ Certification.

All courses will include certification examinations and successful candidates will receive certificates from certifying institutions, including the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute or HEART Trust/NSTA.

For more information, please visit: https://tef.gov.jm/jamaica-centre-of-tourism-innovation/.

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Cruises

Royal Caribbean launches program to educate agents about CARES Act

Recognizing the complexity of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act passed by Congress last weekend, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) launched a program to help travel agencies navigate and take advantage of the benefits for which they are eligible.

RCL Cares, available to travel professionals in the U.S., Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, will offer services to help educate travel advisors on the Cares Act through one-on-one assistance and access to the latest information on the recovery benefits.

Accessible through CruisingPower.com, sales teams from Azamara, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea will be on hand to help.

Educational material about the new law is up and running. But soon, a resource desk will be set up to provide additional services and tools. One thing the program cannot provide is legal advice.

“This is perhaps the most challenging time the travel industry has seen, and we want to do all we can to support those who have supported us throughout our history,” RCCL CEO Richard Fain said in a statement. “Our travel partner community is hurting, and help can’t come too soon.”

RCCL’s four brands have suspended operations through May 12. Fain said that now is the time to turn the company’s attention to caring for its travel advisors, who have seen their income plummet because the coronavirus crisis has kept people on lockdown.

“Any piece of legislation can be challenging to understand, and we want our travel advisors to receive all the financial assistance available to them,” Fain said. “While our ships are idle, we have resources that can be redirected to helping our travel partners so that they will be fully ready and able to charge ahead when we return to service.”

Fain has regularly reached out to the travel advisor community to offer encouragement throughout the current crisis and has urged them to stay in touch with clients so that they can be prepared when the cruise industry resumes its operations. In a video message last week, he told them that they will be needed more than ever once business picks back up. 

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Transport

Qatar Airways Launches Policy to Offer Travelers Maximum Flexibility

WHY IT RATES: Passengers will have the freedom to change their travel plans at no charge. —Patrick Clarke, TravelPulse Senior Writer

Qatar Airways has launched a new commercial policy to provide customers with maximum flexibility to suit their travel plans. Passengers that have booked or will book flights for travel up to 30 June 2020 will be offered the flexibility to change their travel plans free of charge by altering the dates of their booking or exchanging their ticket for a travel voucher valid for one year. Both changes apply up to three days prior to departure.*

This commercial policy is designed to provide Qatar Airways’ passengers with confidence and peace of mind when booking flights in light of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and its impact on global travel.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Bakar, said: “The safety, security and good health of our passengers and employees is our highest priority. Although we maintain the very highest standards of hygiene across all parts of the business, we recognize that some passengers may wish to alter their existing travel plans. We hope this new policy, alongside our robust hygiene practices and safety record, will allow our passengers to travel with confidence.”

As an airline, Qatar Airways maintains the highest possible hygiene standards, which include the regular disinfection of aircraft, the use of cleaning products recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and robust staff training.

In addition, Qatar Airways’ aircraft feature the most advanced air filtration systems, equipped with industrial-size HEPA filters that remove 99.97 percent of viral and bacterial contaminants from re-circulated air, providing the most effective protection against infection. All the airline’s onboard linen and blankets are washed, dried and pressed at microbial lethal temperatures, while its headsets are removed of ear foams and rigorously sanitized after each flight. These items are then sealed into individual packaging by staff wearing hygienic disposable gloves.

Qatar Aircraft Catering Company (QACC) was the first organization in the world last year to achieve ISO22000:2018 certification from Bureau Veritas with UKAS accreditation, confirming its Food Safety Management System meets the highest standards. All meal service utensils and cutlery are washed with detergents and rinsed with demineralized freshwater at temperatures that kill pathogenic bacteria. All sanitized equipment is handled by staff wearing hygienic disposable gloves, while cutlery is individually re-packed.

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’, and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. It is the only airline to have been awarded the coveted ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ title, which is recognized as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, five times.

Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of more than 250 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA), to more than 170 destinations worldwide. The world’s fastest-growing airline added several exciting new destinations to its growing network last year, including Rabat, Morocco; Izmir, Turkey; Malta; Davao, Philippines; Lisbon, Portugal; Mogadishu, Somalia; Langkawi, Malaysia and Gaborone, Botswana. The airline will add Luanda, Angola; Osaka, Japan; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Trabzon, Turkey; Santorini, Greece; Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Cebu, Philippines, and Accra, Ghana to its extensive route network in 2020.

*Terms & Conditions:

—Valid for any of Qatar Airways’ published fares only purchased either directly from QR or through Travel Agents.

—Change Fees – will be waived if reservations are changed at least 3 days before departure. Fare difference may apply.

—Travel Voucher – Reissue unutilized value for a voucher “To be used for future travel”. This voucher will be valid for one year from its issuance date. Refund penalty shall be waived if cancellations are done at least 3 days before departure

SOURCE: Qatar Airways press release.

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