Luxury hoteliers in the UK are being asked to get behind an ambitious new project to provide a two-night stay for every intensive care unit (ICU) worker in the country, as a thank you for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are estimated to be around 100,000 ICU workers in the UK, and the Nights On Us project hopes to be able to secure enough rooms in luxury hotels and accommodation to give them all a break.
The idea comes from a team of luxury travel professionals who found themselves with time on their hands during these quieter months in travel and wanted to do something to help.
Taking on the marketing element of the initiative, Greg Fruchtenicht, who has set it up with industry friends and former colleagues, said it had been galvanized by seeing various activities around volunteering, support and in the travel sector.
“We were of course seeing #ClapForOurCarers, and the massive response to the government call for NHS volunteer support, as well as so many well-wishing things being done for NHS staff, and we all thought this could be our way of showing support – of doing, not saying – and of using our experience to do so,” he said.
There are now thousands of nights “in the bank” for the plan, with brands and hotels who have so far donated rooms including Grantley Hall, The Beaumont, Cowdray Estate, Flemings Mayfair and Z Hotels.
The inventory all goes into a new website, which ICU workers can visit to book a stay; hotels can also still pledge accommodation to add to the site, which has been developed by Journey, a digital agency with extensive experience in building bookable websites for luxury hotels.
“We wanted to make it as simple as possible for an ICU worker to go on, search via type of accommodation and location, and date – as they would any other hotel website – and just book it so they know they have something to look forward to,” Fruchtenicht told TTG.
The roll-out followed initial conversations with ICU consultants at Northwick Park Hospital in London to determine the number of potential staff this could include, and some workers there have also been engaged in a trial for the site.
“We also wanted to make it as easy as possible for hotels to contribute and be involved, with a simple pledging form online and ability to upload details about the hotel,” he added. “We also wanted to make it UK-focused so that people didn’t have to think about funding and booking their own flights to get somewhere.”
It’s hoped Nights On Us will also help stimulate wider interest in travelling to hotels closer to home, and give domestic tourism a much-needed boost.
“Of course, there’s the hope that while at all these great hotels, the ICU staff may dine there and enjoy local experiences too, giving some incremental ancillary revenue, as well as profile for the hotel,” Fruchtenicht said.
Hotels making a pledge need to be as flexible as possible with the terms of a booking, he said, but it’s appreciated they may need to apply some black-outs.
Any hotels or potential partners interested in donating boutique/luxury room nights, should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The idea will also be to keep the initiative alive by asking some ICU workers who redeem stays to share their stories about life on the ward, and off the ward, as they take some time to relax.
Nights On Us is also working with The Telegraph to spread the word, and British luxury association, Walpole.
Nights On Us has been started by Fruchtenicht, Jacob Pickering and former colleagues Tom Harding and James Wales, who started Nemo Travel last year, and Chetan Shah, who now runs Micebook – a digital hub for global event planners.
“We in the luxury travel, hospitality and hotel industries are not in the business of saving lives, we are in the business of enriching them,” Pickering said.
“So it’s with that in mind that we think it only fitting for the industry to unite and offer a light at the end of the tunnel for these frontline workers who have risked their lives during the pandemic.
“This initiative will also help regenerate the UK hotel industry following the pandemic. In a time where people are no longer allowed to travel or feel secure in doing so, we want this initiative to mark the reopening of our beloved industry.”