SINGAPORE - Before the pandemic, project manager Muhammad Atik, 34, and his family would travel abroad three times a year.
While overseas vacations are now a pipe dream, Mr Atik and his family of four are determined to keep that spirit alive: They have combined two back-to-back staycations to make a four-day-long break this March holidays.
While his two children, aged six and seven, look forward to pool time at two different hotels, for Mr Atik and his wife, 36, the highlights are the food and shopping of two distinct neighbourhoods - Chinatown and Orchard Road - mimicking a jaunt abroad.
Mr Atik’s family is one of many here flocking to hotels with their families during the school break. Hotels and travel websites contacted by The Straits Times reported a spike in the number of bookings for this week.
InterContinental Singapore said its occupancy has doubled this week compared to its average rate this year, with 30 per cent of the stays booked from March 13 to 20 paid for using SingapoRediscovers vouchers.
The hotel said its Family Suites package, specially designed for families with young children, is almost sold out.
A Conrad Centennial Singapore spokesman also said that demand for staycations at the hotel has increased almost threefold, with a "significant" number of guests using their SingapoRediscovers vouchers to pay for their stays.
Other hotels contacted by ST, such as Raffles Hotel Singapore, Hilton Singapore and Goodwood Park Hotel, all saw an increase in staycation bookings during the March holidays.
For some guests, their stay has been a long time coming. Booking platform Klook’s general manager for Singapore Sarah Wan said some customers made their reservations for this period from as early as December last year.
Since Dec 1, all Singaporeans aged 18 and above have been given $100 each in vouchers to spend on hotels, attractions and tours.
The flurry of hotel bookings come as Singaporeans have only until June 30 to redeem their vouchers via the five booking platforms - Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Traveloka, Trip.com and Klook.
To cope with the influx of guests amid the pandemic, hotels said they have implemented a slew of safety measures.
InterContinental Singapore, for instance, said stay-home-notice (SHN) guests are housed in a separate wing from staycationers.
Staycation guests also receive a call or e-mail two days in advance informing them of their check-in time slots, which are staggered.
"Since February, guests are able to pay for their stay and do a contactless check-out via the smart televisions in their rooms," said the InterContinental Singapore spokesman.
Last December, a cluster emerged at Mandarin Orchard Singapore, after 13 guests who were all serving their stay-home notices came down with Covid-19. Some guests had told ST then that they were worried about infection, after they were notified and told to move out of the hotel.
The hotel reopened on Jan 2 after the Ministry of Health announced that no transmission was found among guests, and that the hotel had been thoroughly disinfected.
Mr Atik said he has been reassured by the safety measures undertaken by the hotels he has booked.
"When we were at Parkroyal Collection Pickering, we saw hotel staff disinfecting our rooms," he said.
The highlight of his stay at there was a much-anticipated visit to a restaurant at Chinatown Point for its halal beef noodles.
His wife, Madam Faradillah, a nurse manager, is looking forward to retail therapy at the shopping haven that is Orchard Road over the next two days while they stay at Hilton Singapore.
Additional Reporting by Ivan Kwee and Fang Yiyang