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Hear how our favourite luxury hotels and their dedicated staff coped during lockdown, and how they're preparing for guests to return post-pandemic
“Covid-19 has taught us to build team spirit”
The Kingdom of Bhutan banned international arrivals in March, therefore our two lovely Himalayan Resorts of COMO Uma Paro and COMO Uma Punakha have been closed. The time has not gone to waste: we’ve been busy discovering new mountain biking and trekking routes for our guests, developing personalised Bhutanese cookery classes, and upgrading our two-acre Chef’s Garden. More importantly, we’ve been re-training our teams in delivering Guest Service experiences. Covid-19 has taught us many new work lessons, in particular, to be resourceful, think positively, build team spirit and to prioritise values. We can’t wait to welcome Lightfoot Travel guests’ back, and we’re hoping they’ll like our butter lamp lighting ceremony. It takes place in a century-old Monastery for a transformational travel journey experience.”
James Low, General Manager, COMO Uma Bhutan
“Wellness will matter more than ever”
Covid-19 has taught me that we’re powerless to control this planet, and we have to rethink our connection to nature and environment: I thought about this a lot while I spent lockdown supervising construction projects to upgrade rooms and the public areas at Amanjiwo. When it comes to travel, I think wellness will matter more than ever: we’ve introduced ‘Tolak Bala’ - an ancient Javanese spiritual cleansing ritual for body and mind - into our menu of spa treatments. My wish is that our guests can forget the pandemic while staying here. Our resort offers plenty of privacy and seclusion, our staff are well trained, and we will all make sure that safety is guaranteed.
Jann Hess, General Manager, Amanjiwo
“Our privileges are never guaranteed, and travel is precious”
There’s been a lot of changes due to the pandemic: we’ve needed to be prepared with new safety, security and health procedures. We’ve incorporated higher levels of sanitary standards along with social distancing rules. We also changed our uniforms to safely serve our guests. Due to the quick changes, I’ve learnt has not to plan too far ahead. Life is fragile, our privileges are never guaranteed, travel is precious, and moments are timeless. One thing that will never change, however, are the beautiful Balinese sunsets, especially when witnessed from COMO Beach Club with a cocktail. It’s those moments with nature that are priceless.
Anna Elisabeth Rohm, Executive Assistant Manager, COMO Uma Canggu
“The biggest privilege has been time with our rescued elephants”
During the temporary closure of the resort, a core team and I remained onsite to look after the maintenance and security of the 160-acre property. I also brushed up on my cooking and Spanish language skills, and my workout routine improved! However, the biggest privilege has been spending more time with our herd of rescued elephants who need daily care. Covid-19 has brought an abrupt halt to travel, and sadly therefore one of Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation’s main sources of funds. Looking to the future, we’ve implemented new health and hygiene measures focusing on guests’ wellbeing, including enhanced levels of sanitation and hand sanitisers. In a world of practical distancing, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort ticks all the boxes.
Gauderic Harang, General Manager, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort
“It was important for us to do activities to stay motivated”
During lockdown I stayed at COMO Point Yamu with 15 employees making sure the hotel was safe and in good condition. It was important for us to do team activities together such as biking, hiking and supporting local foundations as a bid to stay motivated; it also led us to discover unexplored experiences for our guests.
We’ve been busy implementing new health and safety standards, and staff are being trained on Covid-19 protocols. More than ever, I’ve become aware of the hotel’s open-air spaces: it’s a sanctuary for peace and wellness. These past few months have taught me that we should never take anything for granted, and that life and happiness must be celebrated daily.
Vincent Durier, Hotel Manager, COMO Point Yamu Phuket
“We introduced a global ‘Hand on Heart’ gesture”
At One&Only, we hold a firm commitment that the health, safety and wellbeing of our guests and colleagues is our utmost priority. All of the team are required to complete specific COVID-19 Training, we have appointed a COVID-19 dedicated Health, Safety & Hygiene Coordinator, and we were also the first brand to introduce a global ‘Hand on Heart’ gesture – a warm-hearted welcome without the need to shake hands. The first thing I did when I returned to the property recently was to explore the entire resort. The lush rainforests and the coastlines are just stunning; I fell in love all over again. We’re excited to open the resort in September and to greet our first guests.
Jerome Colson, General Manager, One&Only Desaru Coast
“Pamalican Island’s raw beauty kept us inspired”
Covid-19 has ignited a unique understanding of our interdependency as individuals within our environment. Lockdown enabled us to extend care to team members, and also the community through Covid-19 prevention videos, and masks and vitamins that were shared with our neighbouring island, Manamoc. During the pause, we witnessed Pamalican Island in its purest form: its raw beauty kept us inspired to maintain it as a safe haven of rejuvenation. Immune-boosting treatments are the highlight of the Amanpulo Spa, while healthy options fill the menu of our restaurants. Seeing the smiles of families, friends and couples relaxing together in our secluded beaches after being confined in their homes is a joy that is indescribable.
Audeline Witjaksono, General Manager, Amanpulo
“We encouraged staff to join daily exercise classes onsite”
Lockdown was an opportunity for me to take care of my mental and physical health. I used the time to connect with people I care for, go on walking meditations and to exercise. Due to Covid-19, my therapist work has not changed because hygiene standards at COMO Shambhala Estate are paramount, but more details have been added due to revised standards within the company. We’ve been giving our staff more training, and we encouraged them to take care of their wellbeing by joining daily classes onsite. This time has taught me the importance of what I’ve shared with guests for the past 20 years: your health, happiness and self-preservation must come first.
Paula Choi, Wellness Consultant, COMO Shambhala Estate
From $8,660 pp
Learn the art of Balinese offerings and painting
Explore the Ubud countryside on bicycles
Temple hunting and learning about Balinese culture
Search for cheeky monkeys at the Monkey Forest at Kedaton
Surf lessons on the beautiful beach at Seminyak
When to go:
From $1,850 pp
Explore Bali’s vibrant and beautiful temples
Browse local markets and bathe in hot springs
Marvel at lush rice paddies in the Munduk Highlands
Discover Bali’s exotic flora, fauna and birdlife at the West Bali National Park
Savour freshly roasted coffee at the Luwak coffee plantation
When to go:
From $7,000 pp
Discover the ancient Hindu temple of Pura Tanah Lot
Go snorkelling or diving in Sumba’s vibrant underwater world
Witness traditional spear-fighting Pasola ceremonies on Sumba
Stay in luxurious beachfront villas in remote locations
Explore the picturesque rice terraces at Ubud, Indonesia
When to go: