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Tips for choosing a family holiday during a pandemic

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We did our bit to flatten the curve by staying home for almost three months. Well done!

Now that we are under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), restrictions have eased and interstate travel is back on. This is an opportune time to hit the road for cuti-cuti Malaysia with your families.

However, with the threat of Covid-19 still looming, have you considered how this might impact your travel plans?

Here are my three top tips for choosing a family holiday destination during a pandemic:

Tip #1 – Choose the great outdoors

In Malaysia, we are blessed with many beautiful destinations nationwide and almost every hotel has a promo to help resuscitate the domestic tourism industry. Spoilt for choice, it may be a bit of a headache to narrow it down. My advice is to choose somewhere with wide-open spaces that offer a variety of outdoor activities like going to a beach, trekking, hiking, doing outdoor sports, or outdoor tours, etc.

Desaru Coast’s wide open spaces

My family and I were recently invited to Desaru Coast where we stayed at Hard Rock Hotel which we felt set the bar quite high as a family-friendly destination in this new norm. With access across three properties, including Westin, Anantara and soon to be opened The One & Only, Desaru Coast boasts 3,900 acres and a pristine beachfront that spans 17km! Offering stellar facilities and a high standard of health and safety precautions in place, you and your family can enjoy your getaway with greater peace of mind.

Loving it at Hard Rock Hotel!
Exploring Westin’s beach front
We took a tour of the Desaru Fruit Farm and got a chance to taste some of the tasty produce!

Tip #2 – Be your family’s safety inspector

I don’t recommend you to be a Karen but it might help to squash some anxiety if you put on your safety inspector hat. Look up the hotel’s website or call them up personally to check what health and safety precautions are in place, then check reviews or your social circle if they are enforced. I felt Desaru Coast’s Hard Rock Hotel (HRH) went above and beyond in this aspect.

Check-in and check-out

Contactless check-in and check-out via your mobile phone is a big plus point. At HRH, it was available but I didn’t realise it was an option until it was my turn at the check-in counter! Ah well. I didn’t have to worry though. I felt very reassured that safety was a priority as the staff who checked me in was properly masked, wore a fresh pair of gloves when I stepped up and sanitised everything once I stepped away.

Rooms and sanitation

High standards of cleanliness are of utmost importance. The rooms at HRH are sealed once housekeeping is done cleaning and sanitising. It felt strangely satisfying when I broke the seal to enter our room. Welcoming us on a table in our room were individually packed disposable masks, sanitising wipes and a big bottle of sanitiser. How thoughtful!

Hand sanitising stations should also be made available to guests at high-traffic locations. At HRH’s reception lobby alone, I spotted at least three stations and at the reception counter. Bottles of hand-sanitisers and individually packed masks were also readily available.

Dining

Besides ensuring at least 2m distance between the tables and wait staff having their mask on, at HRH you are encouraged to peruse a contactless menu by scanning a QR code. During the breakfast buffet, food is pre-plated at every station but you could also opt to have the chef or server make a new plate for you.

I made a request for poached eggs and grilled tomatoes over the pre-plated scrambled eggs with all the fixings and the staff happily obliged. As an additional safety precaution, instead of having me wait by the station as the chef prepared my plate, he had it sent to me once it was done.

Capacity limitations, temperature checks and social distancing

Along with properly enforced health screening, temperature checks and social distancing practices in place, there should be a limit on how many guests are allowed at any one time in any hotel facility. This includes the restaurant, pool, kids club, gym, playground, etc.

Case in point: My son really wanted to join the popular morning session at HRH’s Roxity Kids Club. I have kept him out of school since MCO so naturally, I was worried my 4-year-old social butterfly wouldn’t like all the new restrictions. Pushing my fears aside, we made it just in time before they closed registration with a limit of 15 kids (originally 30 kids) for each of their 3 sessions per day.

After a gentle reminder to do the health screening, his temperature was checked, he was given a new pair of socks, his hands were sanitised, his mask was put on and off he went. He had 3 full hours of socially distanced activities guided by certified teachers and child-minders.

When we picked him up at the end of the session, he shot out excitedly showing and telling me all about his craft project, three paintings, playing with this and that new friend, and wanted to go back again right after lunch. All in seemingly one breath!

1 meter apart and still rocking!
Some of the fun arts and crafts projects your kids can create at HRH’s Roxity Kids Club

Tip #3 – Mind your Cs and Ws

I know, I know. You’ve heard it over and over again but it bears repeating: stopping the spread of Covid-19 is a shared social responsibility and as parents, it falls upon us to set a good example and to teach our kids.

Here are some self-explanatory steps recommended by Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia.

Avoid the 3 Cs

1. Crowded places
2. Confined spaces
3. Close conversations

The 3 Cs

Practice the 3 Ws

1. Wash your hands
2. Wear a mask
3. Warn – This simply means practicing caution by avoiding handshakes, observing etiquette while sneezing and coughing, observing social distancing and seeking treatment if you are developing symptoms related to Covid-19, amongst others.

The 3 Ws

Now take your pick for your next sun-tastic getaway! And don’t forget the mask, hand sanitiser, and sunblock!

Heading towards Dash Outdoors center for some water-sports fun
Don’t forget to cover up from the harsh sun and when you’re out without a mask on, always avoid large crowds.


The writer’s trip was paid for by Desaru Coast in partnership with Klook. The writer’s opinions are solely her own.

The Hard Rock Hotel Desaru with Fun-Filled Activities (Desaru Waterpark/ Beach Activity/ Guided Farm Tour) inclusive Lunch & Breakfast

RM 689.00 instead of RM1,123.00

  • Inclusive of breakfast, 1 or 2 selected activities: Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast, Beach Activity with Dash Outdoors or Guided Fruit Farm Tour with lunch
  • 1-night or 2-night stay in a comfortable Superior Room for 2 adults and 2 children
  • Get significant discounts only with this Klook-exclusive offer: RM100 spending credit per night at Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast
  • This hotel is rated 5 stars, ensuring a stylish and luxurious staycation
  • Limited Time Offer: From July to 31 August 2020, you will receive additional RM50 F&B voucher when you select Adventure Waterpark as your choice of activity

Click book now to select options of activities/date. Booking period is from now till 31 Aug and stay period is till 23 Dec 2020.

Murni is a dreamer and a serial entrepreneur. Before motherhood, she was a jewelry maker, event planner, and florist. Her days are still filled with color, fun and flora thanks to Crayola, playgroups and the leaves her son picks while out on their walks. She enjoys reading, diving and her precious “me time” to work on new dreams.

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