Business Travel in a COVID-19 World

This Post Was Originally Published on the Plus Travel Group Blog on August 4, 2020 by Mark Crone

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World is different. Nothing seems normal in a pandemic and travel is no exception. As the economy reopens and we all move forward, it’s time to travel again. Business needs to travel for a variety of reasons including company growth, customer visits, internal company meetings, etc. I flew with Air Canada from Toronto to Montreal on July 16, 2020. Here is what a business trip looks like right now:

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World – Toronto Pearson Airport

Boarding the plane in a Covid -19 world

There are more people travelling than you might think. On the day I flew, there were 15,000 passengers moving through Toronto Pearson. Airport parking was busy with 2 floors full and several other floors with minimal space. As you walk into the terminal, you will need your mask on. You’ll also be stopped by security to confirm that you are a traveller (only travellers are allowed into the airport). The terminal does not look busy, but travel activity is growing week by week. Toronto Pearson has initiated a “Healthy Airport” program in response to COVID-19. This includes anti-bacterial fogging, UV cleaning technology, enhanced sanitization, and physical distancing measures. As you make your way to check-in, you will notice these measures throughout the terminal.

Check-in and Security

Air Canada Touch Free Check-In Kiosk

Advanced check-in is now more important than ever. If your flight is busy (70% or more), and you prefer to travel on a different flight, you will have an option to change to another flight operating within three days or to the next available flight without additional fees. Touch-free check-in at select airports includes seamless TouchFree Bag Check service. During mobile check-in, select the number of checked bags, print your bag tags from dedicated kiosks, and then drop off your bags at the TouchFree Bag Drop.

You’ll see physical distancing measures in place as you line up for security, with decals every two metres on the floor. As you walk up to security, your temperature will be taken by airport personnel. You now scan your own boarding pass at security and proceed through inspection. Hand sanitization stations are available at security screening and throughout the airport.

Airport Lounges and Pre-Flight

Social Distancing  seats near a gate at Toronto Pearson Airport

If you have access to an Air Canada airport lounge, you’ll be happy to know that they have re-opened. Seating has been readjusted to provide social distancing. Food comes in a snack box and drinks are handed to you by an attendant. There are also washroom attendants. As you make your way to your departure gate, some restaurants are open and seating at the gate has been adjusted with social distancing. There are more people travelling than you would expect but there is still plenty of room for physical distancing throughout the terminal.

Boarding and On the Plane

Selfie of the Author wearing a mask while flying on the plane

The number of boarding zones has increased (8 for my flight). There are fewer travellers in each zone with boarding by window then aisle and from back to front of the plane. At boarding, you’ll show your ID and boarding pass. But you’ll be asked to pull back your mask so that the agent can see your face vs. the picture on your ID. As you board the plane, you’ll be handed the Clean Care Kit (if you are flying Air Canada). The Kit includes a mask, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, water bottle, a headset, and a snack. Seating is spaced out as much as possible. Given current travel activity, it would be odd to have someone beside you. Announcements on board will always remind you of COVID protocols including wearing your mask over your mouth and nose (unless eating or drinking).

Air Canada Clean Care Kit

At Montreal Airport

There are 3 security entrance points at Montreal Airport. As you enter, you will be required to sanitize your hands and have your temperature taken by infrared thermometer. Virtually every airport, including Montreal, follows updated COVID specific health and safety protocols. You are encouraged to use mobile check-in; you must wear a face mask; physical distancing measures are in place; and enhanced sanitization processes are ongoing.

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World – Summary

With the many biosafety protocols and procedures in place for travel, it quite frankly feels safer to travel than to buy groceries. It felt great to travel again as it seemed to for everyone else on the plane. The travel industry has spent considerable time and effort in developing new procedures to build trust and confidence- and it works! It really is time to travel. And business travel needs to happen to facilitate economic growth. Updated travel guidelines and procedures are the new norm and we are all ready for takeoff!

Flying on an airplane

Feel free to reach out for more information and to inquire about an updated travel program with Plus Travel Group. 

Check out my previous post for more information – Is it the right time to travel again?

Muskoka, Canada – Cottage Country and then some

If you’ve got the money, I’ve got the place. Muskoka, Canada – cottage country and then some. It’s a few hours north of Toronto. It’s beyond beautiful with more trees and lakes than you can imagine. A fantastic place for a vacation or weekend in the summer. Muskoka in the Fall, when the leaves change colour, is gorgeous. If you like snow and ice (ice fishing, snowshoeing, skating, snowmobiling) then you would like it here in the winter too. It’s well worth it to travel to Muskoka.

Muskoka Background

The District of Muskoka is bigger than the state of Rhode Island and contains more than 1,600 lakes. It’s also the home to 7 Provincial Parks and the world famous Algonquin Park for campers. 20 golf courses and top resorts like Taboo, Deerhurst, Grandview, Clevelands House, and JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort.

It’s been the place to go for the well heeled for many years. Tourists flock here from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world to see Muskoka’s natural beauty. Many Torontonians, some Americans and others have cottages, chalets and/or country homes here. Bryan Adams, Goldie Hawn, Martin Short, pro hockey players and more own some of the more fabulous summer homes. My sister (not famous) has owned a regular cottage for years. My brother-in-law owns a float plane and will fly off their lake to buy butter tarts and chelsea buns.

Boating is naturally popular on the lakes of Muskoka. Here’s a chance to take a quick ride on a ski boat in Muskoka:

The Aura of Muskoka

There’s a few places that have an aura about them in Muskoka. Bigwin Island in Lake of Bays. Now a private island with club and full 18 hole top rated golf course. (As a world golfer, I can tell you that the 18th hole is one of the prettiest in all the world. The longest hole on the course, it sweeps down to the right from an elevated tee towards the lake and clubhouse). Many years ago, Bigwin played host to big bands like Tommy Dorsey, Count Basey and others at the Pavilion.

The “Kee to Bala” Bar, located on Lake Muskoka, dates back to 1930 and still has musical acts performing to this day. The Ramones, Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Burton Cummings and many more have played here. Mix in some great bakeries, diners and burger joints through the area and Muskoka traditions stay strong. It’s the longed for Muskoka cottage lifestyle that keeps them coming back.

If you’re convinced that this is the place for you, check out cottages for rent in Muskoka. Or take the plunge, and get a Muskoka Cottage for Sale.

Seriously, it’s well worth it to travel to Muskoka!

Best Places to Throw a Party in Dubai

Dubai is one of the world’s ultimate places to party. So if you’re planning to throw a party or organize an unforgettable event in Dubai, the real task is not to find a venue but to pick the perfect venue among the lot. No matter you’re looking for an actual party hall or an elegant venue or a quirky destination, we’ve compiled and categorized a few spots in Dubai which would go with your unique party requirements.

OPEN-AIR VENUES

Jumeirah Golf Estates

With an extensive ballroom worth accommodating 200 plus guests and outdoor terraces overlooking the golf course, this is one of the best venues in Dubai for an incredible outdoor party. Moreover, it comes with all staples of a memorable event including dance floor, AV screen, sound system, buffet menu and food arrangements.

The Lebanon Island

Be it for a relaxed or a stylish party, this marvellous venue is complete with both indoor and outdoor party spaces. This is a true hidden gem which is tucked away in the Dubai’s World Islands. You can hire its facilities alone or even the whole island if you wish to add more privacy to your intimate event.

Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club

This ultimate venue for horse riding in Dubai is also a sought-after party spot. Placed in proximity to Arabian Ranches, it boasts of a variety of indoor and outdoor venues by way of terrace, lawns, and courtyards.

Desert Safari

Bring a unique twist to your party by throwing it amidst the timeless desert dunes. Yes, it’s possible to plan a private desert safari Dubai which is exclusively designed for you and your guests. Most service providers give you the flexibility to customize the desert party as per your distinct theme or requirements.

BEACH BASHES

Barasti

This is the go-to destination for an electrifying high-energy party in Dubai. This cool yet eclectic beach venue is a part of Le Meridian Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina.

Cove Beach

This beach club may have a new location now as it got shifted from Jumeirah Beach Hotel to its current venue in Caesars Palace (Bluewaters Island). But, it’s still one of Dubai’s favourite party spots, with a private beach access plus all facilities such as cabanas, Jacuzzis, live music, superb food and drink choices and more.

Zero Gravity

No list of beach party venues in Dubai is complete without a mention of Zero Gravity. The gorgeous beach-front settings along with top-notch partying facilities make it second to none.

Riva

If you are looking for a secluded yet stunning spot for your beach party, Riva Beach Club on Palm Jumeirah won’t disappoint you. The access to white beaches, a massive pool and several dining options ensure that you’ll have a mind-blowing setting for your beach party.

PARTY CRUISES

Dhow Cruise

Dhow cruise in Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina is unmissable in Dubai. But did you know that this also makes a classic venue for Dubai parties? It’s easy to pick a dhow as per the scope and scale of your event or party. You can easily customize your cruise party with your desired dining options and entertainment activities onboard. The bonus is its awe-inspiring ambience surrounded by water and of course the imposing views over the city skyline.

Yacht Party

Want to give a more contemporary twist to your cruise party in Dubai? You can’t go wrong with a party aboard a stylish yacht. You can hire a sleek modern yacht (complete with all high-end comforts and party essentials) for a few hours or even for a whole day.

RESTAURANTS & BARS

Karma Kafé

Karma Kafé at Downtown Dubai’s Souk Al Bahar is an amazing party venue complemented by great food and ambience. With direct views of the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa) and one-of-its-kind Dubai Fountain show, it boasts of all right elements to make your event a grand success.

Shades

There is something extraordinary about this lounge within Address Dubai Marina. The sumptuous array of international cuisines and dining arrangements set by a massive infinity pool, plus striking views over the cityscape, make it an unrivalled space for corporate or family gatherings.

Burger & Lobster

This dining venue at DIFC is already a favourite of the aficionados of burgers and lobster specialties. But little is known to many that it also a great place for casual, fun-filled gatherings.

The Backyard

This spot at Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay allows you to win over your guests with its exquisite location along the Dubai Water Canal. Besides great food, it especially stands out for its terrace featuring cool street art.

DREAM & ICONIC VENUES

The Raffles

It doesn’t matter what kind of event you’re planning to throw – Raffles Dubai caters to every interest. Be it anniversaries, birthdays, wedding receptions or corporate events, Raffles Dubai is well equipped to host events of all scales, thanks to their dedicated wedding planners plus exclusive venues such as Raffles Garden and ballrooms.

Burj Al Arab

This sail-shaped hotel is considered the world’s only hotel with seven-star comforts and this is reflected in its party venues too. One of the most popular among them is Al Falak Ballroom whose setting is inspired by an 18th century Vienna style opera house. Then there is Suha Boardroom with top-notch business meeting facilities and Tameen Majlis (ideal for informal gatherings), among others. For a closer look at the Burj Al Arab, here’s my post from my visit – Dubai – New & Old.

Atlantis, The Palm

From a fairy-tale wedding to a themed birthday party event to an impeccable corporate event, the palatial-style Atlantis, The Palm resort is supremely versatile when it comes to partying options. While its venues such as the Atlantis Ball Room can accommodate up to 2000 guests at a time, its many indoor and outdoor spaces including Royal Beach, Private Beach, and Royal Terrace is suitable for small, intimate parties. Moreover, its varied segments like Aquaventure Waterpark, Dolphin Bay, Ossiano and the Lost Chambers Aquarium would take your party to the next level.

InterContinental Dubai Festival City

With a total of 19 breakout rooms complemented by most advanced facilities, the Event Centre at InterContinental Dubai Festival allows you to throw both grand and small parties. It spans over an area of about 5000 square meters and comes with the capacity to seat over 1300 people.

The Address Dubai Mall

Located right next to celebrated Dubai sights such as Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall, it’s a surefire destination to throw your dream party in Dubai. Depending on your party needs, you can choose from Diamond Ballroom (600 seater), Sapphire Meeting Room, and Ruby and Emerald Meeting Room (24 to 70 guests).

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa

Now if you wish to celebrate your special day or occasion away from the bright lights and crowds of Dubai, this marvelous desert resort (right in the center of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve) offers some incredible venues to make your event truly astonishing.

KIDS’ FAVORITES

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater World

If you want to delight to delight your little ones on their special day, count on the diverse birthday party packages available at this renowned aquarium inside the world’s biggest mall (Dubai Mall). From Under the Sea theme to Aqua Voyager Party, it’s certain that your kids will have the most memorable birthday celebration.

Dubai Ice Rink

Let your little ones have the coolest ever birthday party at Dubai Ice Rink which is a part of The Dubai Mall. With an array of choices at your disposal, you can look forward to some treasured moments with your little ones as they enjoy a spin across the Olympic-sized Ice Rink with the help of a friendly team.

Ski Dubai

Placed within Mall of the Emirates, this is yet another snow-inspired spot in Dubai to celebrate your kids’ birthday or any other special events. There are several birthday party packages starting from just AED 185 per person. So forget about Dubai scorching heat;a party at Ski Dubai gives your little ones not only the chance to try some exciting winter activities but also allow them to meet the penguins.

Bounce

This unique park in Dubai’s Al Qouz is a hit among the little ones with its freestyle playgrounds that blends the features of airbags, trampolines and challenging activities. And not to mention about its exclusive party packages with access to kids’ freestyle fun activities, exclusive party rooms, and bespoke food options.

Dubai Dolphinarium

This gives your kids the unique opportunity to celebrate their special day with adorable dolphins. Just make the choice of right Dubai Dolphinarium birthday package which mostly includes Dolphin show, personalized invitations and exciting gifts to the celebrant.

Conclusion:

There is apparently no dearth of amazing spots to throw a party in Dubai. Whether you’re looking to host a corporate event, a family get-together or even a surprise party, the catch is to zero in on the right venue. And with the above list, we hope that you’ll have a guaranteed great party time in Dubai.