In a recent article published in global luxury magazine Robb Report, veteran luxury traveler Horacio Silva shares his story of undergoing a mandatory quarantine within Sofitel Sydney Wentworth (one of the top five-star luxury hotels in the business district of Australia’s largest city).
I highly recommend reading his entire story from start to finish, but I want to summarize the highlights from what he referred to as “hotel prison.”
The start of his check-in (after rigorous health screening tests at the Sydney airport) was surprisingly accommodating. No cavity searches, and he was quickly escorted to his junior suite with a gorgeous view of the city.
Three times a day, he could have food delivered to his room by calling the hotel reception and ordering from a menu. Alcohol was limited to three beers per person per day (or one bottle of wine), and any garbage was picked up promptly after his meal. Food could be delivered from other restaurants outside the hotel, but they were always inspected by hotel staff prior to consumption.
But there were some downsides: He risked actual jail time and hefty fines if he so much as LEFT his room. Likewise, the hotel staff were prohibited from entering his room. To throw out his garbage, he would see a plastic bag left outside his door that was left behind by cleaners.
He was pretty much left alone to use his free time as he wished. As a writer, it was the perfect setup: No distractions, no people, no external influences to get in the way. Just him, his desk, and his laptop to write uninhibited.
Breaks were accompanied by scrolling through the available Australian TV channels for new shows to watch, downloading meditation apps, and an online “social distancing” party accompanied by live music from a singer and a DJ.
All quarantined guests had a mental health practitioner and a nurse check in on them daily to see how they were feeling. While Horacio appeared to be fine, he was clearly getting sick and tired of his circumstances by the halfway point.
So let me ask you this: Would YOU undergo a 14-day quarantine in a high-end hotel like Horacio did? Reply to this newsletter and let us know if you’d be up for the challenge and why – or why not!
In the COVID-19 Vaccine Race, Russia Appears to Take 1st Place
Investors in the pharmaceutical sector, along with various industry experts and insiders, are frantically following the news on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Yet in their tunnel-vision focus on American companies, they’ve failed to notice what’s happening in other countries.
Meanwhile, Russia has been working quietly to get their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine registered by August 10-12. Several business elites in Russia have already been given the vaccine developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, and Phase 3 clinical trials are expected to begin in other countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
If the vaccine receives approval for registration by Russian regulators, it can be approved for civilian use 3-7 days later.
Like the other vaccine candidates, many people are questioning its safety and efficacy due to the speed at which it was developed… and the fact that the data gathered to date has not been published for the public to see.
With over 800,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections in Russia, the country has the 4th largest outbreak behind the US, Brazil, and India. Which goes to explain why Russia has worked tirelessly to get their vaccine candidate in the hands of the public as soon as possible…
Europe’s Future with COVID-19 Is Increasingly Uncertain…
The EU is facing a multi-industry crisis as the possibility of a second COVID-19 wave becomes more likely. Tourism will be severely impacted, along with other economic sectors – especially with increasing likelihood of restored lockdown restrictions.
Even in the event where a second “wave” is unlikely, health experts are suggesting the possibility of the current wave continuing to expand in size and duration. If the latter is true, it would disprove the notion that COVID-19 works in a “seasonal” manner (i.e. outbreaks during certain seasons and retreats during other seasons).
But let’s go back to tourism for a brief moment here: As you’ve seen in several of the stories we have published, several countries are adding new travel restrictions overnight as select regions become “red” due to increasing numbers of new COVID-19 cases.
Even the concept of a “travel bridge” (i.e. quarantine-free travel between two countries with a similar success rate of flattening the curve) is becoming non-existent. For instance, several countries (ex. Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands) are advising their citizens to avoid visiting Spain, and anybody coming back from Spain will be forced to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The summer season, the one remaining hope for the tourism industry, is pretty much dead. The biggest fear faced by EU countries are travelers bringing the virus back with them from their holiday. For the sake of the EU, let’s just hope the fall season looks brighter…
China Is Offering Unlimited Flight Passes – Will the US Be Next?
The introduction to yesterday’s newsletter highlighted the emerging trend of Chinese airlines offering “all-you-can-fly” passes for the next 4 months at a ludicrously low price of just a few hundred dollars (USD).
While this model appears to be successful in resurrecting pre-pandemic domestic travel levels within China, one has to wonder if the same model will work in the United States.
It’s difficult to say, but we are seeing a few airlines attempting to follow something similar:
- Frontier Airlines did a two-day sale (ending yesterday) that offered one-way domestic flights for as low as $11 through December 17th, 2020
- JetBlue did a “Buy One Flight, Get One Fee” promotion that ended on Monday
I personally think there is a strong possibility of US-based airlines copying the approach taken by Chinese airlines, but not detail for detail. However, Q2 2020 failed to show any significant increase in travel demand and they NEED a way to offset billions of dollars in losses.
What do YOU think airlines in the United States will start offering passengers? Reply to this newsletter with your ideas on how they can jump-start air travel!
Delta Airlines Raises the Standard for Refusing Service to Anti-Maskers
Delta Airlines is proving itself to be the “top dog” when it comes to putting their foot down on people who refuse to wear face masks during flights.
First, they were turning people away at the check-in gate upon their refusal to comply. They even stirred up controversy in the aviation industry for turning around an airborne flight when two passengers insisting they have the right not to wear masks.
But Delta Airlines is making their mandatory face mask wearing policy brutally clear, as they now have blacklisted over 100 people who have chosen to not wear masks on their flights. The blacklist is exactly what you think it is: A “no-fly” list.
No word yet on whether this ban is temporary or indefinite, although airlines such as United Airlines and American Airlines have said their bans on “anti-mask” passengers will be temporary for the foreseeable future.
Folks, I’ll say this once and I’ll say it again: Play nice with the airlines and their rules. You may not like them, but at the end of the day they have the ultimate authority in determining what you can and cannot do while using their service.
JetBlue CEO: “Without Additional Government Aid, We’re Screwed”
JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes did an interview with CNBC yesterday, lamenting on the importance of providing US-based airlines with additional financial support from the government.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March, which provided airlines with about $32 billion in federal assistance, is set to expire at the end of September. Travel volumes in America are currently 35-30% of pre-pandemic levels. Only 2.6 million people went through TSA checkpoints every seven days in 2019 and now, that number has been reduced to 662,500 people.
JetBlue themselves are hurting pretty bad, with Q2 2020 revenue 90% lower than Q2 2019 and their shares dropping 3% during yesterday’s trading session.
Hayes is basically asking for an extension of the CARES Act, or at least something in the second round of stimulus funding that will keep airlines alive for longer. Otherwise, October 1st will mark the day of record-level layoffs in the American aviation industry.
On a positive note, Hayes himself has said the industry will eventually recover to pre-2020 levels of travel volume as consumer demand starts to rise. However, even Hayes is 100% uncertain on when said recovery is going to happen.