Face Masks: The New Travel Amenity
Fess up. Do you have a collection of toiletry miniatures or airline amenity kits stashed someplace at home or work? If so, when you hit the road again, you’re just the kind of traveler who is likely to become a face mask collector.
The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined travel, placing health and safety at the forefront for most travelers. Face masks are now considered essential gear because along with social distancing and hand washing, they represent the gold standard in terms of the practical measures people can take to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Despite the politics associated with wearing them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical experts strongly recommend the use of masks.
To protect their guests and employees, travel suppliers are coming up with creative masks that go beyond the paper throwaways. Some are high-fashion; some offer a sense of place; some showcase a luxury brand. Some are gift-worthy and others are likely to be keepers. Masks produced by local artisans or craftspeople help boost local communities suffering because of the downturn in tourism.
Here are some luxury properties and brands that offer face masks as travel amenities:
Rosewood Baha Mar
When Rosewood Baha Mar reopens on October 1, 2020, guests and associates will be wearing complimentary handmade masks, made available through a partnership between the resort and Bahama Hand Print, a local Bahamian business. The company’s designs are uber-popular with visitors who have been purchasing garments, accessories and home furnishings with similar artistry since 1966. The double-layer masks are machine washable, breathable and reusable, made of a tightly woven 100% cotton poplin. They are just one element of the property’s robust safety and social distancing program, Commitment to your Wellbeing. Emphasizing both sanitization and sustainability, Rosewood hopes to “build a better travel industry for the long term.”
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, offers First and Business class guests a soft snood (similar to a balaclava). Comfortably worn around the neck, they can easily be pulled up over the mouth and nose when a traveler is in close proximity to others. The snoods are washable, reusable and made of an environmentally-friendly fabric proven to reduce the presence of germs in fabrics. The face coverings are the latest addition to the airline’s comprehensive Etihad Wellness program that includes Wellness Ambassadors (available 24/7 via live chat, at the Abu Dhabi Airport as well as on board) who help ensure adherence to global health and hygiene regulations.
Angama Mara, Maasai Mara, Kenya
Upon arrival, guests at Angama Mara—a luxury Kenyan safari lodge with 15 tented suites—receive an Angama Covid Safety Pack with hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and signature face masks. Fully washable, the African-made masks, created by couture gown designer Biji Gibbs, are made of a lightweight scuba fabric, woven in three layers for protection. Instead of the traditional safari colors of khaki and olive, the masks are a bold Maasai red that not only makes a statement but conveys a sense of place (traditional Maasai colors are red and blue). The bespoke property notes that not all guests have the same needs with regard to COVID-19 protocols so guests wear the masks at their own discretion, and determine whether or not they want Angama staff to wear masks in their presence. Stewards wear masks at all times, and safari guides and staff in public areas of the lodge happily don face masks, upon guest request.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group properties around the globe require that both guests and associates wear face masks at all public spaces. Thus, as part of the Mandarin Oriental We Care initiative designed to more broadly promote health and safety, guests receive tastefully designed masks branded with the group’s attractive fan logo. The masks are available to guests at all points of contact throughout each property (e.g. upon arrival, at all restaurants or dining venues, etc.). Guests also receive complimentary hand sanitizer and gloves.
Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London
When the Shangri-La Hotel At the Shard, London opens on August 14, 2020, every guest will receive a welcome bag with a branded mask, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and a welcome treat as part of the Shangri-La Cares initiative. Tastefully designed in-house and made of 95% cotton and 5% elastane, the two-layer jersey masks are reusable with an adjustable inner loop for a good fit. Beyond the hotel walls, 21 Shangri-La properties in Southeast Asia have donated 12,500 kilograms of used linen to the regional Linens For Life Face Masks partnership between Shangri-La Group and Diversey to be repurposed into reusable fabric face masks by local nongovernmental organizations.
The Confidante Miami Beach
The playful and vibrant retro-glam persona of The Confidante Miami Beach is evident in its colorful face masks. Custom-crafted by local artist partners Aquarela Sabol, Carlos Solano, Rigo Leon and Luis Valle, the masks are available in four different tropical print designs. Worn by all hotel employees, they are available at a cost of $10 each for guests to help support the local economy. As part of the Hyatt property’s Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment to health and safety, all guests receive a locally-made, coconut scented bottle of hand sanitizer upon check-in, too. Created by Miami-based artist Rigo Leon Herrera, they can be refilled at various locations throughout the property.
Capella Ubud, Bali
Upon arrival, guests at the Capella Ubud, Bali receive a duffel bag amenity kit that include branded cloth face masks as well as individual hand sanitizers. The customized camouflage-designed masks are produced by a local home industry in Bali, in keeping with Capella Hotels and Resort’s commitment to help support local communities. Both guests and colleagues love the masks, which are comfortable and easy to maintain. They make a unique souvenir to take home.
Ovation Travel Group
Ovation Travel Group, one of the largest, independently-owned travel management and luxury leisure travel companies headquartered in the U.S., is providing its corporate and leisure clients with Standing With You kits. In addition to face masks, the kits include hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, tissues and a thermometer.
“While travel will not come back overnight, we are already seeing demand increase among some of our clients. They are not only scrutinizing how the airlines and hotels are working to mitigate health risks, but they are seeking our counsel on their best options. Yet, we want to go one step beyond in our efforts by providing them with complimentary kits that will increase their safety while helping reduce their stress and anxiety,” says Paul Metselaar, Chairman and CEO of Ovation Travel Group.