What has the impact been of Covid-19 on the hospitality sector, regarding Family holidays and Kids Play environments?
At this moment a lot of territories are still on lockdown and the travel sector is no longer enjoying the massive global success it once was used to. People are uncertain of safety issues and are therefore preferring to limit their travel to local destinations, rather than going on long haul holidays. Whether this will be the new norm is yet to be seen, but for now the new norm will bring many changes with it.
This new norm means we do not welcome each other by shaking hands. Social distancing is also forcing us to maintain a distance between strangers or friends we haven’t seen for a long time. We are now looking for new ways to stay safe and avoid being infected or infecting others. In certain countries face masks are obligatory in public spaces and hygiene levels have become a hot topic everywhere. With all these restrictions and uncertainties, the hospitality sector now faces many challenges to ensure its customers that a safe and care free holiday is still possible.
When it comes to families with children, there are some practical steps that can be taken to ensure that resorts can offer their guests a safer and more relaxing holiday. Obviously hygiene needs to be looked at closely in all areas where parents interact with children and other adults, but the actual play areas themselves can be made safer by simply introducing a few elements, such as better ventilation, more touch free entertainment products, more intensive and regular cleaning and smart design of interiors to help maintain social distancing rules. Outdoor play should be encouraged whenever possible and interaction with nature introduced as a stress relieving measure in these tense and difficult times.
As research now shows that the corona virus is less likely to be transmitted in the open air, let children play more outdoors. These play areas should be designed to allow for fun activities outside even in less perfect weather conditions, by using elements such as play pavilions & tree huts. If outdoor play is not possible, bring nature inside by creating a real biophilic environment indoors. As the well- being of both children and adults is dramatically improved with regular contact with nature, they should be more connected to nature both outdoors as well as indoors. When weather conditions force families and children to spend more time at resorts indoors, we should create a nature inspired, natural environment with real (not fake) plants & vegetation. A biophilic design approach should be incorporated. When playing outdoors or when social interaction takes place in an outdoor environment, make sure that children and parents are really connected to the nature surrounding them both in body and mind. Do this through a combination of a well thought out entertainment activities programme and intelligent design of areas to facilitate these activities. Holidays should be fun and relaxing, so create an environment where people can fully enjoy the moment and forget their everyday worries. Play can have a key role in developing happy and healthy people.
Interaction with nature to create a stronger body and mind
Let children and their parents connect with nature more closely by introducing activities in the entertainment programmes at resorts which allows them to get their hands dirty by playing with natural materials, such as sand, water, wood, plants and mud. This will not only teach children more about what nature means to us and how important its maintenance is, but these simple activities also actually help reduce daily stress greatly and boost both mental and physical immunity levels.
How we need to rethink the indoor and outdoor Kids & Family Club.
- Use smart design to create larger distances between groups of people indoors. Furniture & fixture designs for play spaces for children and family interaction areas should take social distancing measurements into account. Maintenance will become more important now due to increased cleaning requirements. Circular, eco and sustainable materials should be incorporated in the design.
- When there is limited indoor play space create reservable play time slots so that there are fewer people in any given space at any one time.
- Introduce more touch free play such as augmented reality products.
- Increase hygiene levels in play areas with more regular cleaning of touch screen & play units.
- Introduce better ventilation systems to limit the impact of Covid-19. An increase of more natural fresh air can contribute greatly to a safer indoor play environment.
- Families & kids should recreate more outdoors and outdoor play areas should be designed to allow for fun activities outside even if weather conditions are not at their best, by using elements such as play pavilions & tree huts.
- Create healthy entertainment programmes which encourage plenty of playful exercise and educate about healthy eating to help prevent obesity amongst children (and adults.)
- Include stress relieving activities such as meditation and yoga to counteract any anxiety created by Covid-19.
The new norm created by covid-19 will pose many challenges for the hospitality sector, but with some simple steps, smart design and a lot of flexible thinking we can overcome these issues and continue to provide families with children with safe and enjoyable play spaces and family interaction areas at resorts worldwide.
Stay safe, healthy and happy!
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