Travelers may not be able to work out at the hotel gym or gather in the lobby bar just yet, but in an increasing number of properties guests are able to order Covid-19 tests, with fast results, as part of a stay.
The tests are usually offered in partnership with a local laboratory or medical company, and for the most part are at the guest’s own expense. Now that a negative Covid test is required for crossing so many state and country borders, hotels hoping to stand out are adding medical testing to their list of amenities.
“If universities, basketball teams and other large organizations can offer rapid testing, hotels should be able to provide this as well."
“If universities, basketball teams and other large organizations can offer rapid testing, hotels should be able to provide this as well,” said Robert Rauch, CEO and chairman of San Diego-based hotel management firm RAR Hospitality.
Most travelers agree.
"I would definitely participate in a Covid testing program if it meant that I could travel and do so in a manner that was also safe for the destination — even if I had to pay for the service," Beth Whitman, a frequent international traveler from the Seattle area, told NBC News.
However, some people are cautious about mingling with guests who left home without first making sure they were safe to travel.
"I think it's a fine idea if the testing is ... to have documentation for access to an airplane," said Francine Cohen, who lives in New York City. "But if the intent is to arrive on property and get a test to see if it's safe to stay, then no."
In Las Vegas, the Reviv wellness spa at the Cosmopolitan hotel offers a PCR test with results and documents promised within 24 hours. Antibody tests are also available, with discounts offered to those who bundle their tests with certain spa treatments.
The Chateau Marmont Hotel, Cottages and Bungalows in Hollywood now provides free Covid-19 PCR tests with a 24-hour turnaround as part of its amenity package.
At the ultra-luxury Nobu Hotel Palo Alto in California’s Silicon Valley, guests can request a private, on-site Covid-19 test administered by a licensed medical professional in full personal protective equipment.
Sofitel hotels at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports now allow guests to check in, take a self-administered saliva test, have it sent off via courier to a Covid testing laboratory, then head out for their flight the next day with tests results in hand.
“It seemed to be the right thing to do to both encourage travel and get people booking airport hotels again,” said Raj Shah, Group Commercial Director for Arora Hotels.
Going forward, hotels that do impose testing requirements — or proof of vaccination — may have a marketing advantage, said Bruce Rosenberg, chief operating officer at HotelPlanner booking site.
“It might boost consumer confidence and ease the guest's mind knowing that everyone who stays at that hotel has either the vaccine or a negative test result," he said.