The Ascott Limited: Looking towards reopening

Throughout the pandemic, The Ascott Limited has been providing a safe haven for long stay guests and key workers across the globe. Find out how they have continued to provide exemplary - and safe - service to guests while looking towards recovery.

The Ascott Limited serviced apartment
It has been a challenging period for the relocation and global mobility market. However, as lockdown restrictions around the world begin to lift, businesses are beginning to look towards their reopening and recovery period. Frédéric Carré, Regional General Manager UK, Germany, Spain and Georgia at The Ascott Limited, discusses looking towards fully reopening properties and why serviced apartments will be more popular than ever.

Looking after guests during ‘lockdown’

“Our properties are a primary residence for some of our guests, so although not all of our properties have been open to transient guests, throughout the pandemic we have been housing long stay guests and key workers at our properties across the globe. We have leveraged our lodging expertise and resources to provide a safe haven for our guests worldwide, while extending our support to local Government agencies and philanthropic organisations in the fight against COVID-19.“We have stepped up to provide a home away from home for healthcare workers, returning nationals, guests who are affected by border closures or city lockdowns and others who have been stranded due to COVID-19. In France and the UK, we are supporting healthcare workers with accommodation to ease the demands of commuting. Since 23 March 2020, Ascott has provided over 1,500 complimentary room nights in key cities such as Paris and Marseille and the initiative is expected to continue until end of May.”

Technology coming into its own

“During the pandemic, we saw some of our existing technology coming into its own through the pandemic. For example, in China, in 2018 we introduced Xiao Ya, our service robot, which has proved to be an excellent way of reducing human interaction during this period. They can perform a variety of tasks such as concierge services, leading guests to the rooms or facilities, delivering clean laundry and packages, and refilling room supplies. Other precautionary measures include enhanced cleaning of the service robots, offering guests packaged breakfasts to go, self-pickup and drop-off electronic lockers for parcel deliveries, as well as conducting virtual sales tours with clients.”

Changes afoot

“We have a duty of care to both our guests and staff and so we are building upon the already high standards of housekeeping and hygiene, from having a period of non-occupation between guest stays to avoid cross-contamination and pre-arrival deep-cleaning of rooms and touch-points throughout each property, to decreasing physical contact between our teams and guests. For example, we have suspended our buffet breakfast offering and instead we are offering a grab and go service which will be delivered to each apartment, and we have also implemented plexiglass protection at receptions and a cashless policy to reduce physical contact.”

Looking towards recovery

“We are in the process of preparing to fully reopen properties for both transient and corporate guests in stages depending on the Government guidelines and social distancing measures in each location. In France, Spain and Belgium, we will be able to gradually fully reopen the properties from beginning of June onwards and we are looking to fully open our UK Citadines Apart’hotel properties and The Cavendish London hotel in the summer following Government advice. The health and safety of our guests and staff remains our top priority and we are running frequent risk assessments so we can operate in line with Government guidelines and introduce a number of new of safety measures to ensure maximum protection for everyone.“I believe Ascott, and the serviced apartments industry, will come out of this crisis stronger than ever and that there will be a greater demand for self-catering properties and serviced apartments. Serviced residences are more resilient than hotels as they are self-contained, making them a safe and secure option for accommodation, and can cater to extended stays. Although travel will remain domestic for a while, we are expecting international travel for corporate and leisure guests to progressively return by the end of the year to beginning of 2021.“Going forward, corporate travel buyers will look for even more security and safety for their employees and service residences are well placed to deliver on that, offering more privacy and space to respect social distancing.“Our guests can enjoy the privacy of their own spacious apartment which features everything they need to live comfortably and to cater to convenience in their home away from home. Each apartment has its own kitchen and complimentary WiFi with Cloud-based digital tech allowing guests to work from our apartments, making it a flexible space to live and work. Our apartments are centrally located so our guests have everything they need on their doorstep, reducing the need to use public transport.”

What’s next for The Ascott Limited

“Despite everything that has happened recently, we’re very much looking to the future. Our portfolio exceeds 70,000 units in over 700 properties worldwide, and with our ambitious growth plans, we are on track to meet our global target of 160,000 units by 2023. Citadines is our fastest growing apart’hotel brand globally and in August 2020 our newest addition to the apart’hotel portfolio, Citadines Islington London, will open.Citadines Islington London will set a new bar for contemporary accommodation in the borough. The 108-unit residence is housed in a former Royal Mail Sorting Office, located in London’s exciting new Islington Square neighbourhood, on the borough’s bustling Upper Street. Citadines Islington London will feature four stylish and contemporary styles of apartments, each designed to appeal to the modern traveller, whilst drawing on the property’s and Islington’s colourful heritage.“Each studio or apartment at Citadines Islington London has a fully equipped kitchen, separate sleeping corner or room, private bathroom, living area, flat screen TV with Chromecast and free unlimited Wi-Fi. The majority of one-bedroom and one-bedroom Deluxe apartments will also include a washing machine for the convenience of long stay and relocation guests – facilities such as this will allow guests to enjoy a flexible lifestyle while social distancing.“As domestic and international travel begins to recover our guests, whether they are staying with us for business or leisure, can trust us to ensure that their stay is comfortable and relaxing, as well as safe.”

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