Room Mate, a Spanish-owned chain of boutique hotels, has become the first hotel chain to offer its guests free Covid-19 testing. The hotel group has partnered with Quirón, a private health company, and is trialling a scheme that tests all guests at their hotels.
1. The process
The scheme will involve guests being tested on arrival, or they can choose to take a free antigen test before they travel, at any of the 100 or so Quirón clinics across Spain. The latter test takes only 15 minutes to produce results. The hotel will then use an app to track guests’ symptoms throughout their stay, with long-stay guests and hotel staff being tested every three to five days.
2. Trialling the scheme
Initially four Room Mate hotels in Spain, Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga and Granada, will pilot the scheme, which will then be extended to all 28 of the company’s hotels around the world. Back in May, at the height of the Covid crisis, Room Mate also ceded 13 of its hotels to the ministry of health to help take pressure off the hospitals. Chief executive of the hotel group, Kike Sarasola, stated, ‘Right now, our priority is the health of our guests, my employees will have the comfort of knowing they are working a safe environment, as will our clients.’
3. Concerns for Spanish tourism
Like many other countries, Covid-19 has had a catastrophic impact on the tourism and hotel sector in Spain. According to the country’s National Statistics Institute, foreign visitors are down by 83% and overnight stays were down 73% in July and 64% in August. In Madrid, only a third of hotels are open and in August they were at only 17% occupancy. Meanwhile in Barcelona, usually a tourist hot spot, barely a quarter of hotels have reopened and last month the Barcelona hoteliers’ association announced that occupancy rates in the city had barely reached 10% over the summer. Coastal resorts like Benidorm have become ghost towns. However in some areas, such as the Costa Brava and the Costa del Sol, domestic tourism has offset some of the effects of the crisis, and according to travel technology company TravelgateX, this summer Spaniards made up 87% of reservations in Andalucía.
4. Benefits of the scheme
A double room in one of Room Mate’s Barcelona hotels costs arounds €75.75, which would mean two people getting a Covid test for under €40. As it is not always possible to get a free Covid-19 test (unless you have come into contact with the virus or are exhibiting symptoms), Room Mate’s scheme could prove a popular alternative, as it is considerably less than the cost of being tested in a private clinic.