Travel | September 9, 2020 6:00 am

Meet the People Forced to Quarantine in Five-Star Hotels

How’d you like to hole up in the Ritz-Carlton or Marina Bay Sands?

The Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore at night
Is the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore the most luxurious quarantine spot?
Julien de Salaberry/Unsplash

In Singapore, the current quarantine travel restrictions work like this: if you fly into the city-state you’re obligated to quarantine for 14 days, not in a place of your choosing but a hotel assigned by the government. Sound a little Draconian? Maybe, unless you’re one of the lucky few booked at a five-star hotel. 

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled a number of COVID-era travelers who experienced the quarantine measures in Singapore, some of whom spent two weeks in high-end accommodations like the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore and the Marina Bay Sands. Others weren’t as lucky, ending up in small rooms where the windows didn’t open and the views were of parking garages instead of the picturesque bay. 

“We hit the jackpot,” said Joy Van Dee, a 42-year-old interior designer who spoke to the Journal. She arrived in Singapore from Amsterdam and didn’t know where she and her toddler would be quarantining until the shuttle bus from the airport pulled up to the Ritz-Carlton. The next two weeks were spent in “a luxurious 549-square-foot room, with river views.”

That’s not to say the lottery winners were receiving all the benefits of a five-star hotel during their stay. As the story noted, “Guests can’t leave their rooms, and there is no housekeeping. Hotel staff drop meals off outside guests’ doors. In many hotels, guests get fresh towels every three days, and new sheets after a week.” Additionally, most people are required to pay about $1,460 per person per room, though that’s a fraction of the cost during normal times. 

If you’re thinking about trying your luck at scoring a cheap five-star stay, don’t book that flight to Singapore just yet. According to the Journal, at least one five-star hotel, the Marina Bay Sands, is no longer being used for the quarantine lottery. 

Plus, take it from another traveler who had his hopes of scoring a dream stay dashed when he ended up in a claustrophobic room: “As I imagined us staying in a nicer space, I could feel my spirit crumble.”

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