Covid Tests are the Newest Amenity at Tropical Resorts
With recent restrictions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on international arrivals, all-inclusive resorts and tropical destinations are having to rework their protocols to stay of interest. Effective Jan. 26, all inbound U.S. travelers, including citizens, must present a negative COVID-19 test (either antigen or PCR version) to board their flight. As a result, overseas hotels and destinations have quickly leapt into action to assure that demand for cautious travel does not get thwarted too much.
Hotels and resorts have already implemented impressive cleaning programs to support safe tourism with social distancing efforts everywhere from restaurants to poolside and beach seating, mask requirements, and ample sanitation protocols. The latest piece in their recovery arsenal is providing easy access to COVID-19 testing within 72 hours of a guest’s departure flight so U.S.-bound travelers can meet the new CDC guidelines.
For many, the anxiety of finding a test (and one that is not too expensive) is half the battle. Add to that the concern of not receiving the results back in time, and it could be enough to deter international travel altogether. While that is probably the point of these measures, it may just send travelers to other domestic destinations rather than cancel their plans altogether. In other words, this won’t curb those looking to travel completely, it just may redirect them. And with so many international economies tied significantly to tourism, that has led many resorts to spring into action.
There are dozens of hotels and resorts, mostly in tropical destinations, that are implementing free COVID-19 testing programs onsite. Here’s a look at just a handful of the international chains that are making free onsite tests one of their most sought-after amenities.
Meliá Hotels International
Ten Meliá Hotels International properties in Mexico and the Dominican Republic are now offering free COVID-19 antigen tests to guests staying at least three nights at their tropical resorts. This is expected to trigger increased demand for the Spanish brand’s properties since guests won’t have to venture far to be tested before their return flight.
Hotels that will offer the free tests for eligible guests include Paradisus Playa Del Carmen, Paradisus Cancun, Paradisus Los Cabos, ME Cabo, Meliá Cozumel, Meliá Puerto Vallarta The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, Paradisus Palma Real, Meliá Caribe Beach Resort and Meliá Punta Cana Beach Resort.
No matter how travelers booked their visit (directly or through an online travel agent), guests of at least three nights are eligible. In addition to testing, the company has an impressive insurance policy that comes with a stay including two weeks of accommodation in the event someone tests positive and cannot fly home. The included insurance also covers accommodation for loved ones traveling in the same group or provides assistance to get them back home.
For guests staying at one of the AMResorts brands including Dreams, Secrets, Breathless, Now, Sunscape and Zoëtry, they can take a complimentary antigen test with results promised within 24 hours. The company’s travel insurance program will also cover those that test positive with two weeks’ worth of accommodations and medical coverage until they can return home. For those returning to countries that require PCR tests, the resorts offer the ability to pay extra for such a test although U.S.-bound travelers only need an antigen test.
Sandals Resorts International
As part of a guest’s stay, the all-inclusive group, including well-known brands like Sandals and Beaches, will offer free Covid testing onsite before guests depart with results promised within 24 hours allowing travelers to check in for their return flights home. The offer for free testing lasts through March 31; also included is the brand’s insurance coverage with lodging provided should someone test positive during their stay as well as a substantial amount of medical coverage.
Playa Hotels & Resorts
Free antigen tests are available to U.S.-bound guests of Playa Hotels & Resorts properties; these include a variety of resorts like the popular Hyatt Ziva and Zilara properties in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico among others. The free testing is available to guests staying at least three nights (a five-night minimum in Jamaica); those with shorter stays can pay a fee to take a similar test. There are some exceptions made for wedding groups on shorter stays, which is a nice perk for those hosting a social event.
For a fee, PCR testing is also available for those traveling to countries that require it. In a unique move, the resorts will also provide overnight accommodations in case someone’s test results do not come back within the pre-determined time (typically 24 hours for PCR tests). In case any guest tests positive for COVID-19 before returning home, the resorts offer a 50 percent discount for quarantine accommodations of up to two weeks until someone is allowed to fly home.
U.S.-bound travelers booking a stay at one of the Posadas Resorts brands like Fiesta Americana, Grand Fiesta Americana, or Live Aqua will be eligible for free antigen tests at one of its beach resort properties. The tests are conducted onsite. For those interested in tacking on the affordable insurance plan, they can do so at check-in, which covers a discounted nightly rate of $10 at its resorts in the event of someone needing to quarantine before flying home.
Hard Rock Hotels and Resorts
Hard Rock Hotels and Resorts, plus affiliated properties like Nobu Los Cabos, will provide guests with two free antigen tests per room during their stay so they can return to the United States safely and meet new regulation guidelines. Stays of a minimum of three nights qualify, and they must be reserved before the end of February with a stay date sometime in 2021. PCR tests are available for an additional charge. For those that test positive, Hard Rock will cover the cost of accommodations during any necessary quarantine.