Overlooking the famous Patong Bay, the luxury hotel The Senses Resort had to organize itself to be one of the few on the island authorized to receive these atypical visitors, who will have to undergo several coronavirus exams and temperature measurements.
The hotel also had to mobilize doctors and security to monitor the rooms 24 hours a day, from a special “war room”.
Employees were trained at the hospital and received personal protective equipment (PPE) to deliver meals to their rooms.
Sixteen chalets, with an area between 110 and 220 m2, have been redesigned so that there are only wooden or plastic surfaces that are easier to disinfect. Surveillance cameras were also installed at each entrance.
“Given the expenses, we are not going to make much profit from that special clientele,” said Suppachoke Laongphet, owner of the hotel, one of the nine approved in Phuket so far.
But “we have to find some sources of income to support our team and the local economy”.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, tourism generated 93% of Phuket’s revenue, the “pearl” of the Andaman Sea. Today, however, 95% of hotels and more than 70% of stores are closed, according to local authorities.
Hence the need to try to reopen the island, but in a very timid way: only about 300 tourists from China and Scandinavia are expected to arrive in the coming weeks – perhaps more, if the health situation remains under control.
If the system is successful, other Thai provinces will do the same.
Quarantining the Senses Resort costs about 4,500 euros per person, including meals, and almost 16,000 euros for fours.
Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, president of the southern section of the Thai Hotel Association, admits that only a small number of visitors will choose this form of quarantine, “those who can afford and wish to stay for several months in our country, which is very safe in the fight against coronavirus “.
“This is not what will allow a lasting recovery of the Thai economy”, which depends on tourism, with a record number of almost 40 million visitors last year, “but it allows us to wait”, he adds.
On September 29, Senses Resort obtained approval, and about 20 Indian and European tourists have already made reservations to be quarantined.
Thailand recorded less than 3,600 cases and 59 deaths related to the coronavirus.