With nearly seven lakh cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), India is now officially the third worst-hit country globally. As the total number of cases crossed 6.9 lakh on Sunday, India overtook Russia and is now only behind USA and Brazil now in terms of the total number of affected cases.
Under this backdrop, travelling on a vacation is certainly ruled out. But months of lockdown and working from home have been woeful and boring for sure. Is there any way to work out a travel plan at all?
Staycations and daycations
Staycations are holidays spent locally, and thus one can be on a staycation in the same city where one lives. However, since the idea is to spend some time away from the monotonous setting of one’s home, people spend a day or two (or a bit longer) at a hotel or a guest house in the same city. A day’s outing – involving driving out to a distance away from home and returning to the comfort of home by the end of the day – is often called “daycation”.
A number of people in Kolkata – like elsewhere in the country – are now going on staycations and daycations to get out of the monotony of staying home because right now that’s the next best alternative to “travelling” in the truest sense of the term.
How are people “travelling” now?
Bedit Banerjee, manager at a multinational bank, loves travelling five to six times every year. With Covid-19 leaving no option for travelling or even planning a holiday over the next few months, Banerjee decided to go for a staycation at Taj Bengal last week to celebrate his parents’ marriage anniversary.
More and more “holiday-deprived” people are warming up to the idea of staycations at five star addresses. According to Banerjee, it is a pleasant change from the tedium of home for months in a new setting with good food and comfortable stay and is thus “almost like a holiday”. Banerjee is all-praise for staycations because “it gave me opportunity to celebrate my parents’ 37th wedding anniversary despite the pandemic.”
Mrigakhi Ganguly, a college-goer who visited JW Marriott Hotel with her friends recently, said: “What made us especially happy is that whatever was on offer was good value for money”.
Sumedha Biswas, a resident of Dum Dum, who had spent many weekends at Vedic Village is planning to visit the resort in the coming weekends as her summer trip to Goa was cancelled due to Covid-19. “It’s impossible to stay home for such a long time, so I am planning a staycation with my family,” she said.
Attractive packages being offered by hotels & guest houses
The pandemic has dealt a severe blow to hotels and guest houses, leading to huge losses. With lockdown, ban on travel, it is only the local population that they can now cater to. Hotels and guest houses have thus taken to several measures to woo the local population with buying capacity that is now tired, bored and stuck home for months with a lot of worries. Maybe a little fun can help them feel better?
According to Manish Gupta, area director (east) and general manager, Taj Bengal, Kolkata, “Staycations have always been popular among travellers, and we have seen an increasing demand over the weekends now. Patrons haven’t gone out for summer vacations this year due to the pandemic, so they are making the most of hotel stays”. Taj Bengal has introduced an “urban gateway package” – which, according to the hotel is an “all-encompassing package” to ensure customers a much-needed break within a safe environment. Hyatt Regency, Kolkata had staycation packages since 2014, but now, a new enticing package has been introduced.
Weekend getaway off Kolkata, Vedic Village, has also introduced staycation packages. According to an official, “We introduced a special package after lockdown and we are happy with the response”.
The economic distress caused by lockdown has also changed people’s expenditure habits, and most are unwilling to shell out a lot of money at the moment on luxury and their enjoyment. For hotels, weekend getaways and resorts, the name of the game now is thus going low on cost and high on hygiene and safety measures.
Banerjee and Ganguly are happy with the safety measures maintained by the hotels they have stayed in. Banerjee explained, “The hotel employees are working tirelessly to keep the guests safe. The rooms are properly sanitized. Currently, health, hygiene and safety are the primary focus.”
Earlier, staycations were popular mainly in the 25 to 35 years age group, but the pandemic has changed the scenario. People from all age groups are now showing interest, say those running hotels.
“Daycations” are even more popular now
“Daycations” are day-long outings, often involving a day booking in hotels and resorts. While such day trips have always been popular, the pandemic situation has made these open up as good options for a change under the present claustrophobic situation. Country Road Resort is one of the many places off Kolkata that people are visiting for day-long trips, especially during the weekends now. Manager Swarup Bhattacharya said: “Since we launched the package recently, the response is not yet so high. But we expect steady growth in coming weeks.”
Priyanka Jain, who visited the place with her friends in June-end, said: “It wasn’t crowded, so we found it safe. It is a sprawling area and we enjoyed the natural surroundings and feel refreshed.”
If the pandemic is here to stay, staycations and daycations are likely to get more and more popular in the coming days.
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