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UNICO 20 87 Shares Enhanced Cleanliness and Sanitation Protocols

WHY IT RATES: This resort, located in Riviera Maya, is hoping to provide comfort and peace of mind to both travelers and its staff once the property opens again. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

The health, safety and wellbeing of all guests, partners and staff have always been and will continue to be number one priority at UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya. We continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 global situation and follow the guidelines and recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local and national health authorities to ensure a clean and safe environment for everyone.

Internationally recognized regulations and standards of guest and employee sanitation have always been strictly enforced at our property. With that said, in light of the recent global pandemic, we have developed a comprehensive, enhanced cleanliness and sanitation plan that consists of added precautionary measures throughout all aspects of the guest and team member experience.

Each department has its own set of procedures that are implemented to keep our guests’ and employees’ health and wellbeing top of mind, while providing a S.A.F.E. (safe and friendly environment) experience to our guests.

Below you will find a summary of our enhanced protocols:

1. Guest & Employee Health: Antibacterial hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout all areas of the hotel, with additional signage throughout back-of-house and guest areas reminding everyone of important health and hygiene protocols such as handwashing and physical distancing. Physical contact will be minimized as much as possible, and we will continue to provide an onsite 24/7 doctor to provide medical assistance as needed.

2. Employee Protocols: All of our staff have received thorough training on our enhanced protocols, in addition to training on identifying any flu or virus-like symptoms and following a firm procedure on reporting to a medical official. Staff will also continue to receive training on global standards of sanitation set forth by third parties such as Ecolab and NSF. In addition to ongoing training, employees will be closely monitored for any symptoms (including a temperature reading) on a daily basis and will be required to wear the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) based on their roles and responsibilities.

3. Cleaning Protocols and Sanitation: We use cleaning products such as Ecolab and standards that meet EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) guidelines and are approved for use and effective against viruses, bacteria and other airborne and bloodborne pathogens. We have increased the frequency of deep-cleaning and disinfecting all common areas, public spaces and guest rooms (in addition to back of house areas) with an emphasis on high-contact surfaces such as front desk check-in counters, elevators and elevator buttons, door handles, public bathrooms, room keys and locks, ATMs, handrails, tables, gym equipment, dining surfaces, seating areas, pool chairs and more.

4. Physical Distancing: Guests and employees are instructed to practice physical distancing by standing six feet away from other groups who are not traveling with them; this includes while standing in lines, waiting for elevators (including limited capacity), or walking throughout the hotel. Additionally, furniture placement throughout all common areas and back-of-house has been rearranged to allow for increased spacing, including redesigned layouts for meetings and events.

5. Guest Experience: Every step of the guest journey has its own set of defined protocols that will ensure the safety and wellbeing of our guests and employees, while maintaining the level of service that you have come to expect. This includes our in-house transfer company, luggage disinfection, non-invasive temperature readings via a thermal camera, a pristine check-in process, strictly enforced hygiene practices and physical distancing throughout the spa, salon, fitness center, pool and beach areas and more.

6. F&B: We will continue to reinforce our internationally recognized methods of identifying and managing food safety related risk, including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), and adhering to strict global brand standards in addition to third-party standards such as NSF. Select services such as buffet have been eliminated, while in-room dining will now be contactless.

You may visit our website to review the full enhanced cleanliness and sanitation protocols. Should you have any questions or require any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-855-212-4192.

SOURCE: UNICO 20 87 press release.

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Uncertainty about borders puts travel companies off balance

As countries around the world begin easing their Covid-19 shutdowns, the big question on the minds of consumers and travel companies is how and when countries will reopen their borders.

In recent weeks, answers have begun to emerge as to the how, which will likely include everything from mandatory health checks to masks and hypervigilant cleaning protocols.

Countries have set benchmarks for phased societal reopenings, and groups including the World Travel and Tourism Council, the European Travel Commission and the U.S. Travel Association have begun compiling post-pandemic guidelines and best practices for the industry. But noticeably absent are any realistic answers as to when these might be implemented.

“We’re going to listen to the experts,” said U.S. Travel president Roger Dow during a call last week announcing voluntary industry guidelines. “When the experts say it’s safe, when the numbers are right, we will travel.”

The many unknowns have left travel companies issuing a string of seemingly random and constantly changing forecasts about when they might resume operations.

“The bottom line is we just don’t know,” said Nigel Hack, who owns the luxury travel planning company Madrid & Beyond, which specializes in Spain and Portugal. 

Portugal is one of the least-impacted countries and is widely expected to be among the first to reopen. But Hack said that “there is so much conjecture and speculation. I think ultimately we all have to wait for governments to make those decisions, and we have to abide by those decisions.”

Globally, experts agree domestic travel is expected to resume first, followed by regional travel, then more widespread international trips. 

In the U.S., hotels in national parks and domestic river cruise operators are set to reopen in June. Some cruise lines have also set June sailing dates.

For the most part, however, the majority of international operators have pushed back their start dates to July. But some are reexamining the reality of that.

On May 6, AmaWaterways said it was pushing its European river cruise season start to Aug. 1, and other companies said they, too, were reevaluating.

Intrepid Travel last week suspended all of its departures until the end of September, perhaps the strongest sign of travel companies’ uncertainty that border reopenings will be widespread in time for summer.

“The truth is that no one knows,” said James Thornton, CEO of the Intrepid Group. “Even if you’ve got connections with governments and you’re getting the best advice, the reality is that no one is really sure.”

With the summer travel season fast approaching, the lack of uniform policies across Europe’s borders makes it especially hard for tour operators and cruise lines to make anything other than guesses about when they might resume operations.

“Our biggest concern right now is the lack of coordination,” said Eduardo Santander, executive director and CEO of the European Travel Commission, which has called for strong public-private collaboration and a coordinated, regional response rather than country-by-country approaches.

The uncertainty is what prompted AmaWaterways to again delay its start. Avalon Waterways, part of the Globus family of brands, said it was also reevaluating dates.

“European river cruise operators are hoping to start as early as late June, but the question will be if North Americans will be able to travel to Europe, and 95% of our guests are from the USA or Canada,” said Rudi Schreiner, president and co-founder of AmaWaterways.

“The start of the season will also depend on each country,” he said. “Portugal and the Douro might open earlier than Spain, but many of our Douro cruises have pre- or post-cruise extensions into Spain.”

Ocean cruise lines also face the border-to-border uncertainties, in Europe and around the globe.

“If you can’t cross borders, it’s hard to run a cruise,” said Mark Conroy, Silversea Cruises managing director of the Americas. 

The challenge is not just knowing when destinations will reopen their borders but when customers will be able to travel without restrictions, such as quarantines on arrival and return.

At Intrepid, Thornton said some of their most popular trips are to places such as Vietnam, which has managed to stem the spread of the virus. But most of its trips are made up of groups of travelers from different countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., which are two of the hardest-hit countries in the world, and Australia and New Zealand, which have seen some of the lowest rates of spread. That means clients’ ability to travel will vary.

“For us to make those trips be able to work and work properly, you need unrestricted movement, and I just don’t see that happening until at least later this year,” Thornton said.

In the meantime, he said, Intrepid is focused on developing shorter local products in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. to give its core customers options when domestic travel resumes.

News editor Johanna Jainchill contributed to this report.

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Scenic Group says shipyard begins work on its second expedition ship

The Scenic Group said that construction on the Scenic Eclipse II has begun this week in Croatia with a steel-cutting ceremony for the second of five ships planned for the company’s oceangoing fleet.

Its sister ship, the 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse, launched in August as the first expedition vessel to have its own fleet of two helicopters as well as a submarine.

Scenic said that as of now “work is being done on a situational basis” and that there is no set delivery or launch date at this point.

MKM Yachts, a new company wholly owned by the Scenic Group, is now in charge of construction of all of its ocean ships. The Scenic Eclipse was delayed more than a year due to multiple issues at Croatia’s Uljanik shipyard, including worker strikes, financial malfeasance, management turnover and frozen bank accounts, Scenic said. Last year, Scenic invested in Uljanik to help complete the ship. MKM Yachts said that under an agreement with the Croatian government it will operate its shipbuilding in a dedicated section of the existing Maj 3 Shipyard in Rijeka. 

Scenic has two other ships under construction: Emerald Waterways’ first ocean ship, the Emerald Azzurra, and the Emerald Luna, a river vessel. 

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Cruise Companies Launch Promotions for National Travel Advisor Day

Windstar Cruises is now paying commission on all future cruise credits and has launched a popular agent promotion “Sell 3, Sail Free.” The company made the announcements for National Travel Advisor Day and National Travel and Tourism Week.

“Travel advisors have always been important partners of Xanterra Travel Collection,” said Xanterra and Windstar Cruises CEO Andrew Todd. “A few years ago, Windstar Cruises introduced Star Promise – our commitment to travel advisors. In keeping with that pledge, it is important to update our policy to recognize the hard work and support of our travel advisor partners.”

Windstar’s Travel Assurance Booking Policy already allows travelers to cancel their cruise up to 15 days before departure and receive a 100 percent future cruise credit to be used on all sailings through Dec. 31, 2021. Starting immediately, however, Windstar is changing its policy to pay agent commissions on all future cruise credits.

The “Sell 3, Sail Free” program, which will begin on May 18, awards a free cruise for two to agents who sell three fully deposited staterooms. The free cruise will have to be taken by April 30, 2021. Travel advisors will be confirmed 60 days out, based on availability, and will pay only taxes, fees, and port expenses, plus gratuities. For details on booking guests with Windstar, click here.

Here are other cruise line promotions announced for National Travel Advisor Day.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Waterways are offering a 2 percent bonus commission on all new river cruises booked by May 30, 2020, for travel in 2020 or 2021. Additionally, every travel advisor who books a river cruise will be entered into a giveaway – with one winner receiving a complimentary Scenic or Emerald river cruise. More details can be found here and here.

The bonus commission applies to the river cruise portion of a booking only, excluding port charges, land days and extensions, and do not apply to bookings made using a future cruise credit. Included in this offer are all river sailings in Europe, Mekong, Russia and Egypt. Dalmatia sailings are also included except those scheduled in 2021 on Emerald Azzurra.

Norwegian Cruise Line is offering prizes to bookings made through 6 p.m. ET May 6. A select number of travel partner bookings made through the Guest Services team will be eligible to win VIP packages or a $200 onboard credit. In addition, 10 travel partners will win $500 Amazon gift cards. From the 10 winners, three will be selected to win a Haven suite aboard a seven-day Norwegian cruise. The three winners will be announced via the Partners First Facebook page by NCL Chief Sales Officer Katina Athanasiou via Facebook Live at 8 p.m. ET.

Riviera River Cruises is offering an incentive to advisors and their clients for new bookings made between May 4 and May 8 for 2020 and 2021 European river cruises.

Advisors will receive a $100 gift card per cabin booked and their clients will receive a $100 shipboard credit per person booked.

“We’ve always supported the travel agency community, and this is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to advisors and their clients during these difficult times,” said Marilyn Conroy, Riviera River Cruises’ executive vice president-sales and marketing North America. “At Riviera, we’re the only cruise line that won’t accept bookings directly from consumers – instead, we turn them back over to advisors who work proactively with us and are located where the consumer lives. In due time, we’ll return to Europe’s rivers and waterways, and we hope to be the go-to cruise line for you and your clients when they’re able to travel again.”

The incentive does not apply to existing bookings being amended under the temporary flexible booking policy. For more information, click here.

MSC Cruises is protecting commissions and adding flexibility and resources. For National Travel Advisor Day, Ken Muskat, executive vice president and COO of MSC Cruises USA, released a video of interviews with travel advisors conducted earlier this year (before social distancing was the norm) to hear their perspective on what makes them successful as an advisor.

Last week, the company announced an extension of a temporary pause of cruises through July 10, 2020. MSC Cruises USA will protect commission for travel advisors on the original booking, plus advisors will earn full commissions on a rescheduled cruise that they book for their client.

For affected sailings, MSC Cruises USA will continue offering guests a full future cruise credit on the amount paid, plus an additional 25 percent toward a future cruise, on any ship and any itinerary, departing on or before Dec. 31, 2021.

The Cruise Assurance Program has been extended to Sept. 30, 2020, so booked guests can cancel or reschedule their reservations up to 48 hours before departure. Advisors can also take advantage of reduced $49 deposits through Sept. 30, 2020, and reduced single stateroom supplements at 150 percent from Aug. 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

Travel advisors are encouraged to join MSC Cruises’ next webinar on at 2-3 p.m. EDT May 13 with Michelle Lardizabal, senior vice president and commercial sales officer. She’ll share the love with advisors and discuss MSC Cruises’ programs and educational opportunities for the trade.

Travel advisors are encouraged to post a photo showing their favorite cruise destination to sell on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Tag MSC Cruises’ handles and use #TravelAdvisorDay and #MSCCruises, and they’ll have a chance to be featured on MSC Cruises’ social pages.

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NCL Holdings outlines steps required to remain solvent

In a 59-page public filing, one sentence stood out
to investors: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings disclosed there is “substantial
doubt” about its ability to continue “as a going concern” unless steps are
taken to increase liquidity.

The May 5 filing came the same day NCLH received a vote of
confidence from an affiliate of the private equity firm L Catterton in the form
of an investment of $400 million in exchangeable senior notes due in 2026.

NCLH outlined a series of additional steps needed to maintain
sufficient liquidity, so the company can meet its obligations over the next 12 months.
These include selling $650 million in four-year senior notes in a private
offering, raising $600 million by selling senior secured four-year notes and
selling $350 million in stock in a secondary public offering.

Also in the regulatory disclosure, the company warned that
should it be unable to fulfill its liquidity needs, “it may be necessary for us
to reorganize our company in its entirety, including through bankruptcy
proceedings.” 

NCLH’s stock price closed the day down more than 22%, to
just over $11.

In announcing his firm’s investment, L Catterton CEO Scott
Dahnke said, “The cruise industry has been very resilient over a long period of
time, driven by strong secular tailwinds and a high level of guest
satisfaction. People enjoy cruising, with many guests taking multiple voyages
over time. The industry has overcome numerous challenges in the past, and we
expect that the industry will rebound and prosper with even further
enhancements to their already rigorous health and safety protocols in place in
the future.”

Dahnke also said that Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ three
brands (Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises) “have
carved out distinctive leadership positions in their respective markets, guided
capably by Frank Del Rio and his exceptional management team. We couldn’t be
more excited to support the team at Norwegian as they work through this
suspension of travel and begin to commence operations after their voluntary
suspension of voyages.”

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Hertz Faces Bankruptcy During Pandemic

While struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hertz rental car company is striving to avoid Chapter 11 bankruptcy despite the lack of travel.

Hertz announced on Tuesday that it has until May 22 to “develop a financing strategy and structure that better reflects the economic impact” of COVID-19.

According to the New York Post, the reprieve was granted after Hertz missed a deadline to pay around $500 million tied to $13 billion in financing for its fleet of 500,000 rental cars on Monday. Earlier on April 27, the company failed to make certain lease payments, which triggered additional interest obligations.

“Hertz is burning through about $200 million in cash per month,” Jefferies analyst Hamzah Mazari stated. “I think today’s news suggests they are trying to avoid bankruptcy. Hertz is basically asking for a waiver so they can borrow more debt. They are trying to see if there is a fix.”

USA Today reports that Hertz had earlier warned that the pandemic has caused “a rapid, sudden and dramatic negative impact” on the company, causing many people to speculate that it would soon be filing for bankruptcy. In an effort to cut costs, Hertz was forced to terminate nearly 10,000 jobs on April 14.

However, Hertz still faces significant ongoing operating expenses,” including agreements that commit the company to lease more vehicles than it currently needs. Luckily, the company is not expected to drop below April’s lows.

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Playa Hotels honors travel advisors throughout May

Playa Hotels and Resorts will celebrate National Travel Advisor
Day during the entire month of May with a variety of initiatives, including
giving 31 advisors the chance to give away a four-night vacation for two to
their hometown hero.

Playa vice president of travel industry sales Andrea Wright
said Playa’s business development managers were asked to select their top
travel advisors for the initiative, “Heroes Service from the Heart.” The travel
advisors, located in the U.S. and Canada, have been tasked with selecting their
hero.

Wright said Playa wanted to thank its travel advisors as
well as give back to frontline responders, so Playa decided to combine the two
ideas into the campaign.

The winners will receive a free, four-night vacation for two
to any Playa property except for Sanctuary Cap Cana. Winners will receive
private transfers and a $25 credit toward an excursion provided by Discova.
Travel must take place from Aug. 1, 2020, to Dec. 15, 2021. Air is not
included.

The agents selecting the winners have planned some creative
ways to let the winners know, Wright said.  

“It only seems natural that we would allow the travel
advisors the opportunity to select those heroes that impact them every day,”
said Kevin Froemming, Playa’s executive vice president and chief commercial
officer. “It was our opportunity as a company to give back, and we wanted to do
so on a much larger scale.”

Playa will show travel advisors appreciation, Wright said, with
meal deliveries, gift drop-offs and other surprises.

“It’s all about our travel advisors, and we certainly couldn’t
celebrate them in one day,” Wright said. “It takes an entire month to share the
Playa love.”

Every year, a day is set aside to celebrate travel advisors.
This year’s National Travel Advisor Day will be celebrated on May 6, ASTA said.

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IHG Expands Footprint in Micronesia

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has completed a record conversion signing in the Australasia, Japan and Pacific Islands region after reaching a long-term agreement with Asia Pacific Hotels Inc to manage Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.

On Monday, IHG announced that the 416-room hotel will undergo a refurbishment before rebranding as Crowne Plaza Resort Saipan in 2022. The property will also receive a 116-room extension by 2025.

Highlights of Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan include a half-dozen dining outlets, a club lounge, four meeting rooms, a 300-person ballroom, a gym, multiple swimming pools, retail area and more than 1,600 feet of beachfront.

IHG’s latest agreement comes just seven months after it completed its first hotel signing in Guam, reaching an agreement with Tan Holdings to manage the 318-room Fiesta Resort Guam, which is slated to rebrand as a Crowne Plaza property next year.

The combined 850 room count marks the biggest ever conversion signing for IHG’s Australasia, Japan and Pacific Islands region, the company confirmed.

“We are honored to build on our relationship with Asia Pacific Hotels Inc as they put their trust in IHG to take on another of their great hotels, Fiesta Resort Saipan, and rebrand it as a Crowne Plaza,” said Abhijay Sandilya, IHG’s Vice President Development, Australasia, Japan & Pacific, in a statement. “Saipan, and Micronesia more broadly, is a favorite destination for travelers from around the world, and from Korea, China and Japan in particular, and we will draw on IHG’s deep expertise in catering to guests from these markets. We look forward to growing the resort’s footprint with our world-class Crowne Plaza brand.”

The Crowne Plaza brand is currently in the midst of a transformation amid a global flagship strategy to introduce innovative design and new brand standards across multiple aspects.

IHG currently operates 85 hotels across six brands in Australasia, Japan and the Pacific Islands, with another 42 in the pipeline.

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Riviera River Cruises Offers Incentive for National Travel Advisor Day

In celebration of National Travel Advisor Day on May 6, Riviera River Cruises is offering $100 incentives to advisors and their clients for new bookings made May 4-8 for 2020 and 2021 European river cruises.

For new bookings next week, agents will receive a $100 gift card per cabin booked and their clients will receive a $100 shipboard credit per person.

“We’ve always supported the travel agency community, and this is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to advisors and their clients during these difficult times,” said Marilyn Conroy, executive vice president-sales and marketing in North America.

She said Riviera won’t accept bookings directly from consumers. “Instead, we turn them back over to advisors who work proactively with us and are located where the consumer lives,” Conroy said. “In due time, we’ll return to Europe’s rivers and waterways, and we hope to be the go-to cruise line for you and your clients when they’re able to travel again.”

The promotion can be combined will all other offers available through Riviera River Cruises but does not apply to existing bookings being amended under the temporary flexible booking policy.

Riviera River Cruises offers 20 itineraries on 10 rivers and waterways, including exclusive departures for solo travelers with no single supplement. Its fleet is one of the youngest in Europe, with no ships older than six years. Riviera doesn’t automatically include gratuities or drinks, so guests decide how much to spend.

For more information, call 888-838-8820 or click here.

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Older Travelers Reportedly Won’t Be Barred from Cruise Ships Post-Coronavirus

Older travelers concerned about the possible age restrictions implemented by the cruise industry as a result of the coronavirus outbreak received good news Thursday.

Travel restrictions were previously put in place by cruise lines in March barring passengers 70 and older unless they were able to provide documentation from a doctor verifying no previous medical conditions before sailing.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson and other officials within the industry told The Points Guy cruise lines are operating under the belief that older travelers will be allowed to sail when cruise restrictions are lifted.

“We know that our 70-plus guests and those with chronic conditions are especially eager to understand what cruising will look like in the future,” Royal Caribbean Cruises told The Points Guy. “While subject to change, via the Cruise Lines International Association, we have confirmed that the previous restrictions were lifted in early April after cruise lines suspended service.”

On April 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its no-sail order for all cruise ships for 100 days or until the viral pandemic is deemed over.

The order will remain in place until one of three situations occurs: The Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declares the COVID-19 public health emergency is over; the CDC director rescinds or modifies the order; or 100 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

The CDC has also ordered the cruise industry to develop a return-to-service plan, with Royal Caribbean already filing a patent application for its own branded version of a safety face mask to protect passengers and employees.

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