Opinion by Dietmar Kielnhofer, general manager at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar

Mumbai is a stunning paradox of hope and chaos, magic and madness; and the changing dynamics of this year has seen “staycations” pickup as one of the most sought after travel trends. The convenience of being within your city and yet being lost in the lap of luxury, tranquil surroundings, gourmet delicacies, whilst creating memories for a lifetime with family or friends encouraged us at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar to create special staycation experiences for our guests.

Covid-19 is without a doubt a major industry disruptor; a cataclysmic event without any precedent that forced us to examine the way we worked and conducted business. We all had our 2020 chalked out with great business and travel plans, alas, this year has been a great example that change is the only constant. The future of the hospitality industry depends on how we will shape it as an industry. Understanding consumer behaviours, creating safe environments for travellers using technology and contactless methods of providing guests an experience while maintaining the authenticity of hospitality India is renowned for, are factors the industry needs to pay attention to, in order to survive.

As an industry, we are fighting an invisible enemy that has proven to be quite resilient and deadly. We need to send a message to all key stakeholders that hotels have gone far and beyond in developing new cleaning protocols and procedures that combat the spread of Covid-19. The hotel and tourism industry must work together and create an image of confidence that we are ready to welcome back our customers. The general level of cleanliness in luxury hotels has always been exemplary; what we must do now is to communicate this to a wider audience.

So let’s fast forward eight months later to the present — we have now been more or less quarantined against our best intentions and desire since March this year, forcefully secluded from friends and relatives. Human beings are not predestined to live a life of isolation; we love the company of people, we love being amongst nature, we love being pampered and we love everything “luxury”.  So what better way to smell the coffee again, relax, unwind, venture out with complete peace of mind at a staycation in one of India’s numerous luxury hotels.

The country has never experienced a lockdown for this long. Cities like Mumbai and Pune still do not have their swimming pools or spas operational to provide guests with a complete hotel experience. These services are now slowly being replaced by mindful moments and experiences that hotels are curating for their guests. A staycation experience currently is all about relaxing in the luxurious (hygienic and safe) environment of your room, dining at restaurants within the hotel with the option of curated menus for breakfast in bed, lunch and dinner.

We never once imagined we would be forcefully made to slow down to an extent where even our holidays would be doing nothing but sitting in that cozy corner of your hotel room with your favourite read and a hot cup of coffee (perhaps even a margarita). These are the relaxing days we all envisioned for ourselves – we have a chance to embrace the new normal and book that much deserved city staycation!

Remember, good times don’t last forever, neither do bad ones.