After 10 weeks of lockdown and a travel ban that prevented tourists from visiting, Italy is slowly beginning to emerge from hibernation.
Across the country, Italians are venturing into the world again and hotels are preparing to reopen their doors after prolonged closures. While Italy’s hotels were never officially ordered to close, the majority of them had little choice but to shut down as strict nationwide travel restrictions kept customers away.
The Italian government has said that the country will reopen to international tourism from early June, when it will also stop a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for incoming holidaymakers. The country is bracing for the return of tourists and hoteliers are getting set to reopen their doors, with detailed safety precautions in place.
One of Italy's grandest hotels is the St. Regis Rome. Built in 1894, the gilded palace underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2018. The luxury resort has been closed for weeks due to travel restrictions in place across Italy, but is reopening to guests from today, Monday, May 18.
Ahead of its reopening, the hotel implemented several protocols put in place by parent company Marriott International. These include electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant to sanitise surfaces and social distancing signage in public spaces throughout the hotel. Travellers staying at the hotel can use their phones to check in, access rooms and order contactless room service in a bid to cut down on cross-contamination.
Elsewhere in the Eternal City, other hotels are optimistic about reopening.
At Hotel Nord Nuova Roma, a strong sense of Italian national pride and optimism awaits. “Proud to be Romans, Proud to be Italians, we’ll be back soon,” declares the hotel’s social media pages. All room and common areas in the hotel are being sanitised and sterilised, with portable controlled-emission ozone generators in preparation for the day it will welcome guests again.
At the Atlante Star Hotel, the owners are looking forward to receiving visitors again. The hotel remained open during the country’s lockdown measures, but has had no guests for many weeks.
Museums and restaurants to reopen
Beyond hotels, it’s hoped that the rest of Italy’s badly battered tourism industry can embrace a change of fortune as travel restrictions across the country ease. Museums are also reopening from today, with safety guidelines in place from the Italian ministry for cultural heritage and activities and tourism.
These include all tickets being purchased online, a reduced number of visitors and social distancing in the galleries. With the reopening of such attractions, tourists have an incentive to return. Restaurants and churches are also reopening today as part of a fresh wave of lockdown easing in Europe.
This follows an announcement by the European Union last week that it plans to help citizens from its 27 member countries salvage summer vacation plans after months of coronavirus lockdown.
Italian seaside towns hope for a swift recovery
It's likely that the first signs of Italy's tourism recovery will come from the country's domestic market. On Italy's Adriatic coast, Hotel Lungomare Riccione is gearing up to reopen to guests on Friday, May 22.
This four-star seafront hotel in Rimini is popular with Italians who have long seen the region as a traditional summer destination. The hotel has enhanced its safety and security policies ahead of the reopening.
“We reopen the doors of our hotel with lots of emotion in our heart, little news and all the security needed. We have the best months of the year ahead, let's not waste a moment,” reads the hotel’s social media pages.
At the Rimini Grand Hotel, maintenance work that took place during the hotel’s closure is ending as it gets set to welcome guests from Friday, May 29.
Rimini has long been the first summer destination for domestic tourism in Italy and the region is hoping the pattern prevails. The Rimini Tourism Board has released a video detailing how it has been preparing to welcome guests back to its famed beaches.
“Today we are not afraid, today we create a new world. A new dolce vita, a film with the most beautiful scenes yet to be filmed" says the voice-over.
Venice waits for visitors
In Venice, a city that has battled overtourism for years, the deserted streets and landmarks are looking forward to welcoming visitors once again. In the canal-filled city, the Saturnia hotel, which dates back to 1908, remains temporarily closed.
However, there has been some progress as the hotel’s private lounge will reopen today, Monday, May 18. Everyone is welcome; so long as face masks are worn and social distancing prevails.
“We have worked hard to sanitise all areas and comply with new regulations so that we can welcome you back for coffee, your favourite drink or a cold dish – in both the Il Caravellino & La Caravella rooms – where tables will be suitably spaced,” detailed the hotel’s Instagram.
In South Tyrol, Hyatt's Villa Eden – a health and wellness retreat – has been busy preparing for life after coronavirus. The hotel will reopen to guests on Monday, May 25, with detailed new protocols related to well-being. This includes rapid serological tests for all guests and employees to diagnose active or previous infections, and a range of new treatments, such as oxygen ozone therapy or IV Energy Therapy designed to boost guests' overall well-being.
The fate of Milan
There seems to be less optimism in Italy’s worst-hit region of Lombardy. In Milan, the country’s financial and business capital and global fashion hub, there are slow signs of a return to pre-Covid days as some businesses begin to reopen.
The Grand Hotel Et De Milan, Milan’s first five-star hotel and the former home of 19th-century composer Giuseppe Verdi, will welcome guests again from Thursday, June 4. Sadly, not all of Milan’s hotels will do the same as some smaller, family-run establishments say it is simply too late for them to recover. Elsewhere in Lombardy, the country’s alpine lakes are emerging from hibernation in a bid to salvage what is left of their summer season.
The Mandarin Oriental Lake Como was due to open in March, but pushed its seasonal return due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. The luxury resort, which is set inside a botanical garden, will now welcome guests for stays from Thursday, June 18. The Mandarin Oriental hotel group has put several policies in place to protect guests checking in at its properties. These include mandatory health declaration forms, temperature scanners, personal protective equipment packages and increased antiviral disinfection measures.
Elsewhere on Lake Como, the historical Grand Hotel Tremezzo will open for guests next month. The seasonal hotel, which dates back to 1901, has postponed its reopening until Monday, June 22. It is ready to welcome guests to the shores of its famed lake which is, according to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo website, “flaunting its brightest colours with the mountains framing the sparkling waters and the flowers blossoming on its shoreline.”