If you’re planning to travel abroad, you’ve probably already spent hours researching the testing requirements for your flight or cruise. But have you thought yet about finding a hotel with coronavirus testing and quarantine facilities at your destination?
The rules are pretty simple for traveling back to the U.S. You have to either take a rapid test a day before your return trip or show documentation that you’ve recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meaning that if you get infected while you’re on vacation or can’t get a test in time, you’ll be extending your stay — whether you like it or not.
“You have to schedule a test for your return trip as soon as possible,” advises Joe Cronin, CEO of International Citizens Insurance, which provides insurance to expats, global travelers and digital nomads. “Testing centers often book up quickly, especially just before the weekend when there are large numbers of people scheduled to check out all at the same time.”
Despite the recent omicron surge, this summer will be a busy one for international travel. And many Americans will leave without giving much thought to testing or quarantine facilities at their destination.
“A common misconception among travelers is that most hotels will offer COVID testing,” says Christine Petersen, CEO of smarTours, a tour operator. “While COVID testing is common at resorts, particularly in the Caribbean, it isn’t common at a regular hotel. You need to do your homework.”
How to find a testing center before you go
There are online directories of testing facilities worldwide. For example, Borderless, a project of the insurance site SafetyWing, publishes a list of government-approved hotels you can quarantine in, along with coronavirus testing facilities. Working with a knowledgeable travel adviser also helps.
Becca Fritz, a marketing manager for Alluring Africa, a travel agency specializing in safaris, says she makes sure her clients are booked in a property that offers rapid tests. “For all the lodges we work within our key destinations like Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa, we can easily arrange testing directly at the property,” she adds.
You can also contact the hotel or tour operator directly.
“Travelers shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions,” says Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage, a global travel insurance marketplace. Specifically, find out the most recent COVID regulations, as well as the cost of a test and quarantine. That’s what Alex Beene did when he needed to find testing facilities for a trip to Paris. He called his hotel, the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, to see if it could help him. A representative offered two options. Although the Park Hyatt didn’t have testing facilities, it could arrange an on-site test. Or he could go to a pharmacy. He chose the former.
“A nurse quickly administered the test and got back my results in a few hours,” says Beene, a community coordinator in Nashville, Tennessee. “It made the whole process vastly easier and significantly less stressful.”
How to find a quarantine hotel
If you book through a site like Hotels.com, you can access information about quarantine hotels. Properties can update their hygiene and cleanliness policies on the site and provide details about vaccine and testing requirements. Its on-site messaging feature, which offers a direct link between hotels and guests, lets you find information about quarantine facilities, if necessary. “Travelers can quarantine in single occupancy rooms booked on Hotels.com,” adds Melissa Dohmen, a company spokesperson.
Some countries publish directories of their quarantine hotels. For example, Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health has a list of approved quarantine hotels on its site. These properties will always offer ready access to testing because of their status as a designated quarantine hotel.
Other hotels go out of their way to welcome potential quarantine guests. For example, Baha Mar’s Travel with Confidence program guarantees that if you test positive for coronavirus during your stay, the hotel will offer courtesy accommodations and a daily dining credit of $150 per person per day, for up to 14 days in quarantine. Or, when you are ready to return home, it will fly you from Nassau back to the States at no extra cost.
Ideally, a hotel should offer both testing and quarantine options. In the most popular tourist destinations, resorts will let you stay there and quarantine at a reduced rate. Your travel insurance may cover the additional expense, but check the fine print. You’ll need at least $5,000 in trip-interruption coverage, and depending on the destination, you may require more.
Finding a hotel with coronavirus testing and quarantine facilities is more important than ever
Making the proper arrangements is absolutely critical these days. I know because I recently found myself 12 time zones away from home in the United Arab Emirates with an infected son.
We’d tested negative when we landed in Dubai. But health regulations in the UAE required us to take another test a few days after arriving, and when we did, my 17-year-old had a positive result. Our hotel, the Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi, helped us arrange on-site tests and a quarantine, which allowed him to focus on recovering and continuing with our trip as soon as possible.
It wasn’t easy, but booking the right hotel in the right place saved us from a world of trouble.
What if you forgot to make testing arrangements?
If you’re in a hotel, call the concierge. That’s the advice of Maria Tsiomou, a spokesperson for The St. Regis Abu Dhabi. Her hotel offers on-site testing, but it can get busy during times of high occupancy. “We can also direct guests to the closest express-result center for a PCR test or arrange in-room PCR testing,” she says.
Contact your travel agent. If your travel adviser did a good job choosing the hotel, it should be easy to make arrangements. “We choose hotels based on their ability to arrange for PCR tests for the guests on-site at the hotel,” explains Sangeeta Sadarangani, CEO of Crossing, a multinational travel agency headquartered in London.
Call your travel insurance company. Try reaching out to your insurance company by phone or app. Allianz, for example, has the TravelSmart app, that offers 24/7 travel assistance with almost any travel-related problem or question.