Traveling during COVID? Pros and Cons of hotels versus Airbnb
As countries start opening their borders to international visitors, more and more people are taking advantage of the change of scenery. Max and I are spending a couple months down in the Dominican Republic so if you missed our journey down here, check out our latest post, here. We’ve received a lot of questions about hotels versus condos and what the pros and cons are. There are, of course, tradeoffs to both, but it’s helpful to understand all the options to pick the right type of environment for your needs. As a disclaimer, we are not medical professionals and cannot provide any medical advice. Please be sure to check local and state regulations around COVID-19 both in your home country and your destination country.
By now, you will probably have received a large number of marketing emails from hotels you have previously subscribed to or stayed at with lengthy updates on their new cleaning protocols, restaurant changes, occupancy restrictions and more. When it comes to the major brands like Hyatt and Marriott, they have put in place large-scale programs to support their hotels with these changes to ensure guests stay healthy. Smaller brands like Soneva are even testing guests upon arrival in the Maldives and temperature checks are happening every day to ensure the safety of all guests and staff. Most hotels and brands have mastered the art of the guest turnover and staff have systems in place for cleaning already – the change in protocol during the pandemic are typically just shifts in what they are already doing to a heightened extent. Hotel brands have a lot to lose when it comes to reputation, and therefore, we trust the hotel brands we know and love and trust that they keep their standards high to ensure they do not end up in a PR nightmare for being the “patient 0” of a massive surge in cases.
Of course, these pros come with their own downsides. As guests are looking to spend longer in locations to make the vacation worth the stress of the journey, hotels often offer smaller accommodations than an apartment and often do not come with kitchens. There is also the increased number of guests as opposed to a smaller condo complex or house rental. Your interactions with others are, therefore, typically greater in a hotel than in a rental.
Renting an apartment or a home on Airbnb can solve for some of those downsides: renting an apartment or home often comes with a kitchen and larger living space than a hotel can afford. Also, interactions with staff or other guests are minimized simply based on the fact that there are fewer people around in apartments (i.e less maids, no extraneous staff, etc) or simply no staff at a house. However, most owners of vacation rentals do not have the same stringent protocols to deal with coronavirus. While a hotel may provide you with hand sanitizer and wipes upon check in, it’s a rare day that you’ll find that at a rental. Similarly, it’s often the case that vacation rental owners are either doing the turnaround cleaning themselves or hiring out locals. Without the risk of a brand reputation on the line, you can often expect to see a very different cleaning experience through an airbnb than you would if you stayed at the Hyatt down the road. In our current airbnb, for example, we discovered some pretty major red flags when it came to the cleanliness of the unit and we ended up spending 3 hours in the middle of the night upon arrival cleaning all the bedding due to the lack of cleanliness. In our case, a larger rental management company was in charge of the cleaning, but their standards were simply not that high. While I am certain that you can find a well-managed airbnb property, it is extremely important to do your research. We did the best we could and chose this location do the high cleanliness scores the owner received, so we were very surprised and disheartened when we arrived and found the opposite.
From our experience, our recommendation is to bring extra wipes and sanitizer with you to your airbnb to ensure you can perform a proper cleaning, regardless. We, thankfully, have ample wipes and used that as well as the laundry soap to thoroughly clean the unit. We also aired out the room as we were unsure of when the last person to enter the unit was.
So, where should you stay? While we can’t provide any concrete advice here, here’s what we can say: do your research, read recent TripAdvisor reviews and prepare to do an inspection upon arrival, whether you’re staying in an airbnb or a hotel. If you’re staying for a longer period of time, consider renting an apartment or home to have access to a kitchen and larger living area. Also be sure to keep in mind any government regulations for quarantine. If this is the case in the destination you are going to, we’d 100% recommend renting a place of your own to save money on room service and have the option to do your own cooking and cleaning.