The change to the hotel experience most notable to me was the breakfast. After spending the night of Friday July 10 at Ibiza Twiins hotel, which was very quiet – awaiting the Saturday influx – I woke up this morning in anticipation of eating at a hotel buffet in a Covid world.
Other than staff wearing masks (which it will be compulsory to wear at all times from Monday, except by the pool, at the beach or during sports), there hadn’t been too much about the hotel experience up to that point that had changed so much it surprised me, or even really caught my attention.
But upon heading towards the breakfast room I was met by a member of the team bearing a thermometer, which she hovered somewhere near my neck before letting me pass.
The tables we spread out, and hand sanitizer stations erected. I was impressed to see the serving staff regularly utilising these. The buffet had been placed behind glass doors, and a one-way system was in operation.
The serving staff all wore masks, with the food protected from diners by curved screens. You selected what you wanted from the buffet before the server dished it up for you. While they are touching your plates, this avoids multiple customers interacting with the food directly.
Next it was time for an excursion into Ibiza Town, so we pulled out our face masks and jumped on the bus.
Strolling down the popular Vara de Rey in the old town, it actually felt like a sleepy Saturday morning. There were a good number of diners in the terrace cafes, and the ice cream window was doing a good trade.
I spoke to waiter Markel at Café Montesol, who was busy serving a handful of early lunch guests. He told me he was pleased to see tourists returning, and had hopes for a “different quality” of diner while the nightclubs are closed indefinitely. He was optimistic of gastronomy lovers who enjoy cocktails in town as their night out.
We took a trip up to the catholic cathedral – a usually busy spot that was deserted. Tour guide Jose told us it was his first tour since 14 February, and while Ibiza locals had enjoyed the peaceful period of quiet beaches and no queues, given 90% of residents work in tourism, they were pleased to see its return. Jose said this transition period was an opportunity for the “lesser-known” side of Ibiza to shine through.
Next we headed to Tui’s concept hotel, Tui Blue Aura, on Playa des Torrent. We arrived just after the hoards of tourists, delighted to have got away on holiday. The buzz was palpable, despite everyone being asked to keep their face mask on during check-in. Within the hour the resort was alive, with families eating lunch together in the (distanced) cafe or lying by the pool in their “travelling bubble”, 1.5 metres from the next. Most told me they had booked just a few days prior.
Tongues are now disinfected every 10 minutes and food served “where possible”. There are also pre-prepared portions for people to take away, and markings on the floor to facilitate social distancing.
We were told that the resort is currently capped at 70% of normal capacity due to the new procedures, and that more staff have been taken on to undertake the new requirements (such as sun loungers and gym equipment being disinfected between each guest), despite the decline in guest numbers. The capacity will be constantly reviewed, and Serenis commercial and marketing director Ricardo stating “this is not the summer to worry about that – it’s the summer to get guests back”.
I won’t be able to look inside the kids’ club until tomorrow, but I learnt the baby club won’t be available this summer, although that will be reviewed in August.
The clubs for 3-5 and 6-11-year-old are running, but maximum capacity has been reduced from 30 kids for two hours to 10 children for 1.5 hours, with a staggered drop-off. Sessions can be booked on the Tui Blue app.
Meanwhile, the water park’s maximum capacity has been cut from 205 to 150, with a hand sanitiser station positioned at the gate.
The children’s entertainment stage also has markings on the floor underneath to ensure children stay 4 metres back, as the entertainers won’t be wearing masks.
Certain activities won’t be run.
Before dinner, I took a stroll to nearest beach, the public Playa Port des Torrent. The sun loungers were full, albeit separated in pairs, and as the beach bar’s beats played out and the sun bounced off the still bay, I concluded it’s going to take more than ramped up hygiene measures to stop a holiday being a holiday.
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