• Due to the novel coronavirus, the travel industry has experienced massive disruptions. Even as states and countries slowly begin phased reopenings, many people aren't ready to get back to travel as usual just yet.
  • The hotel industry is adapting to these circumstances by pivoting to offer online virtual programming in lieu of their usual on-site activities and events.
  • From Instagram cooking classes with Italian chefs to digital concert series and virtual kids' camps, hotels are coming up with creative ways to engage travellers at home and teach them new skills.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za

Due to the novel coronavirus, the travel industry has experienced massive disruptions. First, flights were cancelled, hotels temporarily closed, and most would-be travellers began following shelter-in-place orders and changing travel plans.

Now, states and countries are beginning to slowly reopen. However, not all travellers are ready to get back to hopping on planes or checking into hotels.

We talked to experts about whether or not travel was safe right now at all, and while there are some responsible ways to begin travelling, it's important to remember that there's still no guarantee of safety when it comes to travel right now.

Hotels have just begun to reopen with revamped cleaning procedures, but many are still closed and others have significantly altered amenities and services available.

But hospitality is a resilient and passionate industry. Hoteliers, chefs, creatives, and Airbnb hosts have all banded together to adapt to these new circumstances and engage with guests in new ways, even if only digitally for now. Programming that would typically take place on-site is being offered online, free of charge, to teach new skills and safely engage with communities.

From Cornell-approved virtual kids' camps to learning to make pasta with an Italian chef on Instagram, or tuning in to art talks via Zoom, hotels are exploring creative options for would-be guests to stay engaged and entertained from their living rooms.

Read on for 17 creative virtual learning classes and experiences offered by hotels and Airbnb hosts around the world:


Great Wolf Lodge - Across the US

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge recently launched a digital blog as a guide to creating unforgettable family memories at home, on the road, or at the lodge. The lodge experience can be mimicked in your home with activities, crafts, and more to enjoy as a family together or keep the kids busy while indoors.

New content is being added consistently, but activities that can currently be found on the blog include a backyard scavenger hunt, kitchen science experiments, easy paper crafts, and simple recipes to make as a family.


Airbnb - Worldwide

Airbnb

Many of Airbnb's highly popular bookable experiences with local hosts are now available online. Enjoy unique activities like virtually meeting the dogs of Chernobyl, following along in the day of the life of an Olympic bobsledder, or taking a family baking class.

Just like the usual Airbnb experiences, the activities range in price point and length, but all are led by local experts and can easily be enjoyed from home. Most of the online experiences can be booked individually, as a group, or you can join others who have also signed up as a fun way to virtually meet and connect with new people with similar interests.


Gurney's Resorts - Montauk, New York & Newport, Rhode Island

Booking.com

Gurney's Resorts in Montauk, NY and Newport, RI are waterfront havens for families, focused on sustainability and education. In fact, in summer 2019, Gurney's Star Island in Montauk partnered with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program to deliver a custom youth education program called Camp Gurney's.

Now, the brand has launched a virtual experiences campaign called #GoneHomeWithGurneys, featuring everything from digital lessons for kids to wellness tips, meditations, recipes, and more. The Cornell Marine Program is also part of the virtual campaign and they are providing weekly digital lessons for kids with hands-on learning opportunities across topics like water quality, habitat, aquaculture, STEAM, and fisheries.

All programming will be streamed on the @gurneyresorts social channel, via Instagram stories and static posts and can be watched via their Highlight to catch up on past sessions.


Il Salviatino - Florence, Italy

Il Salviatino

Set outside Florence in the countryside of Fiesole, Italy, Il Salviatino is a dreamy luxury getaway opening up its digital doors to savour the restaurant's classic cuisine.

Become an accomplished home chef by following along as the hotel's executive chef Silvia Grossi teaches traditional Tuscan cooking classes on @ilsalviatino as an Instagram TV series. Learn to make dishes like gnocchi with sundried tomatoes and burrata, and homemade multigrain pici pasta. You can also watch past classes anytime via their Highlights.


Amanyara - Turks & Caicos

Amanyara

Take a breather and relax island style courtesy of luxury oasis Amanyara in Turks & Caicos. Embark on a wellness journey with @amanyara_resort on Instagram, where Aman's Wellness Immersion Manager David Melladew has released a series of health-focused videos.

Examples of videos already on their Instagram page include breathing techniques to help destress and open up the lungs and an easy-to-follow, 15-minute yoga flow. For a different kind of destressing, they've also shared the recipe for a cooler mocktail with grapefruit juice, lime juice, and mint. Follow along for more recipes, workouts, and calming routines from the hotel.


Bobby Hotel - Nashville, Tennessee

Bobby Hotel

Nashville is world-famous for live music and the Bobby Hotel is bringing a little piece of that straight to living rooms everywhere. The trendy boutique hotel, which usually hosts rooftop music concerts, is now doing a Keep It Spinnin' virtual live music series.

Every day at 12 p.m. CDT, watch a different artist perform live and discover new music on the @bobbyhotel Instagram. Don't worry, if you can't watch the performances as they happen in real-time, catch up later by clicking on the Keep It Playing Instagram highlight reel, or listen to their curated Spotify playlists.


Ocean House - Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Ocean House

This charming coastal cliffside hotel has started a new blog series to highlight property favourites you can indulge in at home.

Learn how to make Ocean's House's signature chocolate chip cookies, make an easy happy hour wine cocktail with the hotel's sommelier, or learn to shuck oysters safely. You can even find out how to prepare a delicious, glazed Easter Ham from chef Matt Voskuil. Check the blog regularly for new fun recipes and videos.


The Asbury Hotel - Jersey Shore

The Asbury Hotel

The Asbury Hotel's "Knit in the Pit" knitting class is usually a fun way for fellow travellers to meet new people and craft together. The hotel is still hosting the class, but now you can join in via live stream on Zoom every Friday at 5:30 p.m. EST.

The hotel will also host frequent live music performances on its Instagram Live, featuring its regular lineup of performers who play at the lobby bar. Cooking classes and other programming will also be hosted on their Instagram live. Follow @theasburyhotel to learn more and watch.


Cliveden House - Berkshire, UK

Courtesy of Cliveden House

You can catch up on literary festival sessions via Youtube with famed authors thanks to Cliveden House. Fill your spare time by watching sessions from talks at the Cliveden Literary Festival, which takes place annually at the magnificent Berkshire English country house.

Enjoy sessions including The Art Of The Novel with Howard Jacobson, Ian McEwan, Kate Mosse, Ben Okri and Leila Slimani; Emotional Education with Alain de Botton; Britain's Sharpest Airhead with Emily Maitlis, and more.


Fitler Club - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Filter Club

Fitler Club is part stylish boutique hotel, part private lifestyle and wellness club, featuring workspaces and private offices, workout studios and classes, and sophisticated dining. Now you can receive access to the exclusive club without having to officially join as a member.

The community is taking parts of its on-site programming online through Instagram Live and Zoom. Tune in to @fitlerclub for a range of live programming from cookie baking lessons to wine tastings. Don't miss their upcoming cocktail workshop on July 2 for Tomatillo Bloody Marys.

The club is also hosting fitness classes that members can join via Zoom.


InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown - Los Angeles, California

Booking.com

Beyond being a well-located luxury hotel for tourists in LA, the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown is also beloved for its incredible 7th-floor gym, Attitude Fitness.

Their certified trainers have created a "Stuck at Home" workout series for easy living room exercises. The series features a range of workouts from cardio blasts to yoga and core work. The trainers demonstrate all the moves and guide you through the workout, so no prior experience is necessary. Sweat alongside the video trainers by watching anytime on the InterContinental blog page.


Mission Point - Mackinac Island, Michigan

Courtesy of Mission Point

Mission Point is bringing charming Mackinac Island into your home with virtual puzzles featuring images of the award-winning resort. Conjure scenes from the tranquil lakefront property while putting your mind to the test with puzzles including the tulip-surrounded gazebo, Adirondack chairs on the Great Lawn, and the car-free island's main mode of transportation, horse-and-buggy.

The resort is also offering to turn your own Mackinac pictures into a custom puzzle.


Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino - Aruba

Booking.com

Take a virtual vacation and transport yourself to the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters of Aruba courtesy of Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Tune into their Island Vibes Spotify Playlist to set the mood before kicking back to watch this calming video of the island's stunning landscapes.

You can also learn about the island's mesmerising Butterfly Farm and feel like you're walking through the lush garden by taking a virtual tour with a local guide via the Aruba tourism Facebook page.


Belmond Hotels - Worldwide

Booking.com

Luxury hotel brand Belmond has launched a series of virtual programs on Belmond IGTV, titled Belmond Invitations, designed to bring their signature high-end experiences to the armchair traveller.?The performances are curated in collaboration with some of the hotels' ?ambassadors who specialise in niche cultural activities.

Past programs (which you can still watch and catch up via their Instagram page) range from a class with British pianist Joe Stilgoe to a meditation led by yoga guru Nadia Narain Phillips to cooking with Chef Raymond Blanc OBE, founder of Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.


Balboa Bay Resort - Newport Beach, California

Booking.com

Virtually slip away to "The OC" and its ocean scenery with peaceful boats bobbing in the harbour at the Balboa Bay Resort, a Forbes Four-Star property. Explore the hotel's Instagram Stories and At-Home Tips Highlight section on @balboabayresort for DIY facial tips, like making a honey citrus face mask.

At home cocktail lessons, full cooking demonstrations from Chef Octavio, and nautical knowledge (like learning how to tie different sailor knots) are also available.


The Westin Nashville - Nashville, Tennessee

Courtesy of The Westin Nashville

The Westin Nashville is virtually showcasing various ways to stay healthy and grounded during these uncertain times. From at-home facials with Spa Director Rhonda Davis to easy-yet-healthy recipes with Executive Chef Jake Strang and beyond. Tune in on The Westin Nashville's Instagram channel @westinnashville for virtual updates and tips.


Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani - Honolulu, Hawaii

Booking.com

Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani allows you to #HawaiiFromHome as they bring the Aloha State straight to your living room. Escape virtually through the Halekulani Living TV experience arts, song and dance, fine Hawaiian cuisine, and the beauty of Hawaii's culture.

Decide on your program of choice and whip up a Puna Mai Tai with this recipe before tuning in. Keep the Aloha vibes going with the #HawaiiFromHome Spotify playlist, featuring a lineup of songs by Hawaiin natives.

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