You’re intimately familiar with staycations – 2020 made sure of that – but have you heard of study-cations?
Fed up working and schooling at home while the fridge empties like water running through a sieve and dishes pile up like trash at a landfill, you and your family pack an overnight bag. You bring swimsuits, laptops and books. You drive five, 10, maybe even 20 miles away to a hotel or one of our local resorts. You park, slip on your masks and check into a beautiful suite overlooking the pool or ocean. You still have work to do and the kids still have to sign into their Zoom classes, but the Wi-Fi here is faster than at home. Best of all, someone else will make breakfast, lunch and dinner while you and the fam skip off to the pool or beach.
This is the vision some area hotels and resorts want to plant in your mind, enticing you to flee your home and escape to their locales.
“With more families working and studying remotely, resorts are dangling attractive rates, enhanced Wi-Fi and the charms of autumn as reasons to forget summer is ending,” says travel writer Francesca Page, founder of Miss Travel Guru.
As families with school-age children, we’re used to cramming vacations into the summer months. Now, “summer” is a mere state of mind as work and leisure meld in new ways.
If even the thought of staying anywhere besides home during this pandemic makes you uneasy, executives at hotels and resorts are hoping their increased sanitation measures – which you can find on their websites – will help put you at ease.
New resort gets creative
Because the pandemic shut down the bulk of business and leisure travel, many hotels and resorts have fallen into delinquent status on their loans. Others have shuttered completely.
When the pandemic hit, grand opening plans for the new JW Marriott, Anaheim Resort near Disneyland were derailed. “We were originally planning to open the hotel on March 16,” says general manager Nusrat Mirza. “We had trained about 200 newly hired employees, but we made the decision on March 14 that we would not open the hotel.” During the shutdown, those employees were furloughed.
“At first, like everyone, we thought it would just be a matter of a few weeks, a couple of months. Before we knew it, it was six months later. The decision to open on Aug. 19 came with a lot of planning,” Mirza says. “Marriot has really very restrictive COVID protocol. We had to have the proper signage, sanitization stations, had to create additional outdoor dining.”
Before its delayed grand opening, the resort had to retrain employees to operate safely in a pandemic. “We were able to bring back about 13 percent of our employees who were on furlough,” Mirza says. “That was the best part for us – bringing them back, but now we had to train them on COVID-related protocols. Now everybody has to wear a mask. For years and years, we’ve taught people how to be hospitable and how to greet guests, how to smile. Now, we had to teach them how to smile without a smile, how to smile with your eyes. Guests want to see everything that we’re doing. They are still looking for hospitality, they are looking at surroundings, how it’s neat and clean.”
To stimulate interest, the family-friendly JW launched its Work. Learn. Play. package to entice families to do their remote work and virtual learning from a comfortable and luxurious environment. It offers a variety of packages that come with complimentary Wi-Fi and a 20% food and beverage discount. Also included:
- fresh veggies sourced daily from the rooftop vegetable garden
- outdoor swimming pool with three large cabanas and two day beds
- an augmented reality sculpture garden, the Secret Butterfly Garden, and a digital forest (launching this fall) where families can plant a “digital seed” and watch their trees grow on subsequent returns to the hotel
- architecture that brings equestrian farming concepts to life
“Our ‘Work. Learn. Play.’ package came about as we were trying to identify what are some of the [opportunities] we can offer with everyone pent up in their home,” says Maribel Denner, director of sales and marketing. “As the kids are doing virtual learning, we tossed around what would that mean. Why not provide this unique environment where they can work and learn and not have to worry about cleaning, not worry about cooking? It’s a staycaytion with a purpose. The kids are more keen to learning because right after, they can go down to dip in the pool or play in the garden.”
Weeks into fall, Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa is still offering its “Endless Summer” package, which includes complimentary valet parking or contactless parking and a daily $50 resort credit to be applied to food and beverage service, Pacific Waters Spa treatments (held outdoors on the patios of the treatment rooms), cabana rentals or beach bonfire service. For those looking to stay connected to work and school, the hotel offers complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi and Chromecast.
Water slides at Slyder’s Water Playground are open and restaurants are fully operating with spacious terraces for al fresco dining. The beach bonfire packages include beach chairs, blankets, hot chocolate and s’mores. You can find details on the hotel’s sanitation polices at Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment. Hyatt is collaborating with medical experts from Cleveland Clinic and other industry advisors to fine-tune operating procedures such as colleague reorientations, enhanced cleaning and safety protocols and a hygiene and well-being leader at every property.
“The most important element of welcoming back guests is doing it safely, and we are going beyond cleaning to advance care across our entire hotel experience for guests, World of Hyatt loyalty members and colleagues,” says General Manager Peter Rice.
Two- and three-bedroom suites are available for multigenerational families, and some guest rooms offer a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living.
The Portofino Hotel & Marina, a Noble House Hotel nestled on its own private marina in Redondo Beach, created two new programs, “Work from Hotel,” or #WFH, and “Seaside Students,” offering activities and incentives to make the most of working and learning from a distance. The package includes all-day coffee service, menu options at the hotel’s onsite restaurant BALEENkitchen, good-grade rewards for kids and adult happy hours by the pool.
Terranea’s L.A. love
In Rancho Palos Verdes, about 60% of Terranea Resort’s guests are L.A. and Orange County residents these days. To encourage the local love, Terranea is offering a discount: up to 25% off for locals. Use the promo code LALOVE.
While the resort hasn’t branded a remote work and distance-learning package, it is seeing an increased demand from families, hotel executives say. Its villas, bungalows and casitas are popular because those come with up to three bedrooms, plus living rooms and full kitchens to spread out in. And while the kids club is closed, Terranea created a Tide Pool Kids Club activity box full of painting and pool-themed craft supplies, kites, movies and s’mores kits to entertain the littles.
If your family is up for the drive, consider Lake Tahoe, where you’ll get to take in nature’s fall colors, peaceful beaches and outdoor recreation in between working and learning. A fun fact: the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe are warmest during the fall.
Last month, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe launched its Work From Tahoe (code WORKTAHOE) promotion. The package includes complimentary Wi-Fi and a work station, plus a 20% discount on food and beverages. The lake-view rooms overlook the lake and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The resort is also dog-friendly (for a fee), so you don’t have to leave Biscuit behind. The hotel’s health and safety protocols are detailed on its website.
Whenever you decide to escape from home for a bit, may your getaway be just the break your family needs – even while still working and learning – and may you return to your homes refreshed and ready for the rest of whatever 2020 brings. May it be gentle.
Cassandra Lane is Managing Editor of L.A. Parent.