Traveling During the Covid Pandemic
An invitation to Mexico five months into the Covid-19 pandemic may be unwelcome for some, but your Savvy Advisor Michele was eager to test the waters. I have an adventurous spirit -- not that kind that has a death wish, mind you, but I figured if I was allowed to dine out, shop, have maintenance done on my vehicles, get my hair and nails done, etc., then why not take the same precautions I was using in the good ole USA and use them in Mexico?
I gladly accepted, and what I found was surprising.
Arriving at the airport was pretty standard operating procedure with the exception that everyone was wearing masks, temperature checks were given (in Cancun they scanned everyone as they were walking through the security line -- see photo below. I honestly don't remember getting one in the USA -- it's possible it was done "behind the scenes" as they did in Cancun), and people were giving a little space to each other. Not *quite* 6 feet, but they weren't tailgating your hind end either. Now, here's the deal... boarding is still a major cluster. Seriously, do people really think they won't have a seat if they don't invade your personal space in the boarding area? Some things never change.
Once on the plane, I found small bottled water, a snack, and one wipe in a sealed sandwich sized baggie. That's it for the onboard service this trip, which I expected. I flew American Airlines; they did not block the middle seat, and other carriers are following this path. Everyone wore masks, as required, as well. Other than that, the flight was no different than any other flight I've taken.
Now, here's where it changes.
After arriving in Cancun, I exited the airport to meet my transfer driver. Same procedures as I've always experienced with the addition of wearing our masks and having my hands and luggage sanitized prior to entering the vehicle. As a "germ aware" kind of woman (doesn't that sound nicer than germaphobe?!), I really could get used to this procedure.
My arrival and stay at the Dreams Vista Resort and Spa really stood out as different than any hotel experience I've ever had in regards to cleaning protocols. First, those wonderfully scented cool cloths the resorts present you with upon arrival just don't exist during Covid. I'm not going to lie -- I was a little disappointed about this, but I do understand that safety must come first. I made my way to the lobby where I had to "wash" my shoes on a sanitizing mat, sanitize my hands, have my luggage sanitized once again, get my temperature checked, stand on a floor marker until it was my turn to check-in, and watch the masked front desk personnel clean the desk before calling me over. All normal, except... not.
All checked-in, I was escorted to my room by a masked employee. He showed me the card on the door that represented the room was okay to enter. What I found was a germaphobe's -- er, germ aware's -- heaven! The TV remote and toiletries were sealed in packages, the decorative pillows were gone, the fruit tray was wrapped in plastic, and the in-room tablet and glasses were covered in plastic wrap. FYI, the glasses were simply covered and not sealed -- this traveler doesn't drink out of hotel room glasses or mugs... just can't do it unless I wash them. (And for those who care, I still wiped down my room with my disinfecting wipes. Old habits are hard to break.)
Exploring the property, here is what I found: there is hand sanitizer everywhere. Seriously, it's outside of every restaurant, at each bank of elevators on every floor, and throughout the property. Speaking of elevators, there are a maximum number of guests per elevator; floor markers represent the total occupancy. I also learned the government has capped maximum occupancy at 30% -- this was by far the most noticeable change I saw. The resorts I visited during my stay seemed empty. Seriously... it was almost eery how few people were around the resorts (there was one exception -- the RIU Dunamar felt busier, likely due to the overall property size compared to the Dreams Vista and other smaller properties I visited).
Dreams Vista did a great job making me feel comfortable during meals as well. Aside from the hand sanitizer, our utensils were handed out by tongs to limit contamination, tables were spaced out more than adequately, menus were accessed using QR codes, and self service (i.e. buffets) were virtually non-existent.
Some changes were not consistent among different properties/brands. For example, most property fitness centers were closed until further notice, but at least one resort had theirs open. Kid clubs were all over the place in regards to being open. Some resorts did not open the clubs, some did. Some allowed the teens to have their space open while keeping the younger kids' club closed. Others had the clubs closed, but kept activities open. Ultimately, there was no consistency here, and I recommend checking the status with the sales department prior to sending your clients.
Overall I felt comfortable and relaxed throughout my time in Mexico, and felt they did a better job at minimizing Covid-19 exposure than many of the businesses I've visited in the United States. Quite frankly, I was very surprised at this, and many of my colleagues felt the same way. For those who are ready, Mexico is open. Will you go?
Special thanks to Apple Leisure Group for inviting me on this familiarization trip to explore cleaning protocols during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a discounted trip; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by any company or affiliates in any way.