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Travel In The Time Of COVID-19

Travel in the Time of COVID-19

On the Road with James Lim

Senior VP of Operations, Sunland RV Resorts

There is nothing else that warms my heart more than to look back at all my travels with my family, especially during this time of COVID-19.

Some people save and spend their hard-earned money on VIP concert tickets, fancy cars, and designer clothes. As for me, I save for trips and vacations every year. Traveling has given me the most amazing memories and opportunities to bond, explore, and experience new things. In March when the pandemic hit and quarantine was enforced, like the rest of the world, my family and I canceled all of our plans for our exotic vacation to Asia and stayed home. Traveling was out of the question, whether for leisure or for work.

Air Travel

But two months ago, I got my new job managing Sunland RV Resorts based in San Diego. Being from the San Francisco Bay Area, I began flying to Southern California every week especially after restrictions were eased. The first time I traveled, I was extremely worried about catching Covid-19 at the airport or a hotel. However, my fears about traveling diminished after the first trip. I wear a mask at all times and sometimes a face shield for dual protection. I also arm myself with hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes.

I fly mostly with Southwest Airlines.  I must say that I never felt unsafe at all. Coming from a cautious and slightly paranoid me, that says a lot. All airports that I have been to have been very strict with requiring everyone to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Southwest Airlines deep cleans each airplane using an electrostatic anti-microbial gun spray. Upon boarding, it is clear how clean the airplanes are based on sight and smell alone. They use HEPA air filters onboard, a similar technology found in hospitals that removes 99.97% of airborne particles. A bonus with Southwest is that they guarantee empty middle seats until at least the end of the year.

Indoor Hospitality

It makes sense to be cautious and skeptical about airplanes and hotels at this time since they involve different people going in and out. However, the hospitality industry has simultaneously expedited and carefully introduced enhanced cleaning and protocols to keep all of us safe. Hotels, like airlines, have also done a fantastic job of taking the time to keep travelers and workers safe and healthy.

As someone who used to manage one of the flagship hotels for Omni Hotels & Resorts, I can confidently say that Omni hotels’ guest rooms and high-touch surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. Lately, I have also been staying at Marriott Hotels and noticed that they also always clean and are considerate of pandemic protocols. Most of the front desk personnel have shield protectors. They wrap remote controls and accessories in plastic bags in guest rooms, and housekeeping does not come into my room during my stay.

Outdoor Hospitality

But despite the safety protocols in place, many hotels are still closed or are still not getting as many guests as they should. Since I have most recently transitioned from the hotel industry to the RV industry, I know first-hand how badly the hotel industry was hit. On the other hand, the RV industry has been at a positive growth trend during the pandemic, and now I truly understand why. It is indeed the safest way to enjoy connecting with families and friends, enjoy the outdoors, and explore America. Since several schools offer online learning and many parents are working remotely, RV traveling has become more and more popular for families with young children in particular.

The RV travel culture has always been around for as far as I can remember, but during this time of COVID-19, travel by RV has reached even higher heights, revitalized and re-energized.

And why is that? Well, the RV lifestyle provides people with spontaneity, freedom, and control of their environment. Research shows that it is safer to social distance outdoors rather than indoors. Now that I am heading Sunland RV Resorts, I knew that I had to bring all the best practices that align with expert protocols working to fight COVID-19 in order to provide our guests with the safest possible environment. Safety does not stop within one’s RV. Here are some of the safety protocols that we have put in place.

  • In June, we looked at all requirements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Hotel & Lodging Association’s “Stay Safe” initiatives, and federal, state and local ordinances.
  • Then, the Sunland Promise was born and introduced to all our RV resorts.
  • We updated our cleaning guidelines and implemented additional procedures to ensure everyone’s health, safety and comfort.
  • More specifically, we worked with our cleaning suppliers to make sure that we have the DHA-approved solutions to disinfect all surfaces and high touch-points.
  • We made sure to train all our associates to make sure that we meet and go beyond the standards that CDC requires us.
  • To maintain proper social distancing, we require guests to reserve the use of the pools, fitness centers, and other similar spaces.
  • We maintain a break every hour to allow proper cleaning in between sessions.
  • We created QR codes that we have outside to allow our guests to have the resort site map and other useful forms of information on their phones.
  • We implemented Digital Registration using a tablet at some of our locations that can be done inside/outside of the office, advanced video services system to eliminate cable box installations of our associates, and ID scanners to capture guests’ identity.

 

For more than 30 years, SUNLAND’s mission has been to raise the standards of outdoor hospitality. Our mission is to accommodate the avid RVer by providing a safe and convenient resting place where friendships are made and memories are shared. We made a promise, the Sunland Promise to our guests and to our associates, and we are committed to keeping our promise during this pandemic and getting through it together.

I invite you to continue to live out your wanderlust lives happily, safely, and healthfully at our Sunland RV Resorts. I hope to see you basking in the Sunland sunshine!

NOTE: According to CDC, if you are sick, have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, or have symptoms of COVID-19, please cancel or postpone your travel.