April 7, 2020
The hospitality and tourism industry has been leveled with a coronavirus pandemic, but one Swiss company has found a way to survive by offering luxury COVID-19 insulation services.
Le Bijou, the upscale operator of serviced apartments, offers isolation to people with style, with additional possibilities such as personal food buyers, doctor visits and in-room virus testing.
“This makes perfect sense,” Alexander Hubner, founder and chief executive of Le Boijou, Le Bijou, told AFP.
With 42 apartments, he began to notice a decline in bookings at the end of February, when Switzerland registered its first virus cases and the situation in neighboring Italy turned out of control.
More and more international flights were canceled, and wealthy tourists who became Le Bijou’s customer base could not travel.
At the same time, Hubner said bookings were made for a long period of time – two weeks or more – and many clients asked about home calls from doctors.
“We realize that we have to come up with new services and adapt as quickly as possible, and we come with offers for quarantine apartments,” he said.
People who are looking for total isolation can check in “contact free” and order food or catering to be stored outside their door.
“If you are stranded in Switzerland or you are considered high risk and want to isolate yourself, this might be the best offer you can find,” he said.
The service is not cheap, although Hubner said Le Bijou has lowered its usual rate to 2,000 Swiss francs ($ 2,050, € 1,900) per night.
“At the moment I would say a larger or medium-sized unit would be around 500 francs a day,” Hubner said.
For an additional 800 francs per day, guests can choose a doctor’s home call or a twice-daily examination from a nurse and request medical monitoring at all times for 4,800 francs a day.
And if the luxury self-isolator wants a coronavirus test, someone can be given indoors for 500 francs.
“It’s not true that you can only pay more and then you are tested. You must have severe symptoms,” he said.
Hubner also stressed that the company did not benefit from the new service, because it also offers doctors and nurses against the virus to remain free.
“We have an in-room spa, which can be very suitable for doctors to relax,” he said.
Le Bijou is currently around 70 percent occupancy, Hubner said.
It does not reveal the identity of isolated guests themselves, but testimony on its website shows that Apple founder Steve Wozniak and author of “The Wolf of Wall Street” Jordan Belfort have ordered in the past.
At present, eight medical personnel are among the guests, while the company has received 120 questions about free services.
Already started taking donations to help cover this service, and Hubner said he himself had donated more than a quarter of his annual salary.
The main priority is to keep the business going, he said. “We have 65 people who work for us and who live from our company”.
Switzerland has promised assistance for small and medium businesses.
But Hubner said he was a businessman looking for a solution, “We don’t want to just give up and wait for the rescue from the government.”
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