Hotel Comes Under Fire For Helping Wealthy Guests Quarantine From Coronavirus

While other hotels are closing, with no transient business, Swiss luxury hotel brand Le Bijou is setting up “quarantine apartments” based on what they’re learning about guests needs.

Le Bijou’s CEO says he noticed a drop off in three night bookings, but green shoots in the form of 14-day stays. He learned these were guests quarantining from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And he realized there was an opportunity to stay in business by meeting guest needs.

  • Minimizing human contact, eliminating in-person check-in and offering a digital butler service. They already have no common areas.

  • Offering in-room COVID-19 testing for $500; nurse visits twice a day for $1800; 24 hour care for $4000 a day.

  • Food delivery and private use of sanitized gym

Le Bijou Münsterhof / Paradeplatz

A stay costs $800 to $2000 a night, though health care workers are being offered free stays to permit them to work overtime and avoid commutes.

And they’ve come under tremendous criticism for offering this. Rough Guides CEO René Frey, for instance, claims it’s irresponsible for the family-run business with 60 employees to try to survive without a government bailout because it evinces a “lack of solidarity with all the small shops” who are forced to close. If they have to suffer, the hotel business should suffer too.

Moreover charging $500 for in-room tests is an affront because government testing costs less than $200 (that you have to go out to a clinic for, potentially exposing others or being exposed, and non-citizens staying on property wouldn’t be eligible for government health coverage).

The socialist ethos isn’t just about making sure people have what they need, it’s about making sure nobody has more than that.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is amazing. Why do people have to hate so much? If someone can afford and wants to pay, let them…. also giving people a job is okay right now

  2. “The socialist ethos isn’t just about making sure people have what they need, it’s about making sure nobody has more than that.”
    Well said @Gary

  3. Nothing wrong with this… other than maybe the gym usage…depending on the local city/state ordinances.

    But again… Trying keep the hotel above water financially and employees employed.

    Haters are gonna hate.

  4. It’s not about lowering the ceiling, it’s about raising the floor. Most of us (and I’m fine making $200k working for tech) want basic human needs met: e.g. universal healthcare that won’t bankrupt a family (not just an individual) because of a lung transplant, say. I don’t care that someone can pay to have a Covid test hand delivered to them for a premium, it’s that those people who are doing the delivering are the ones who don’t even have fair access to them because $200 is not an option.

    Are you thinking about the people who don’t have a choice but to remain exposed? Not just delivery drivers but the much hated illegal farm workers keeping you entitled people from starving? By the way, illegal aliens don’t typically (not always the case) use government social services because they’re afraid to get caught and are ineligible to get such aid because they don’t have the documents.

    Yet you’re happy to take their services in the guise of a free market economy. Most of us don’t care that you’ve flown in an Emirates suite with caviar served to you. But most of us in economy deserve food on a 12 hour flight.

    We don’t want communism. We just want basic needs covered for the populous so there’s no needless suffering in the wealthiest country on the planet. It’s not hard to have broad empathy.

  5. This is a great idea and a good example of businesses pivoting to meet needs as a situation changes. Sadly our world is increasingly driven by a “if I can’t afford it nobody should be able to have it” mantra that is destructive to a society and an economy.

  6. Wow – The writer of this article seems to be very bitter about something and I’m not sure why. In addition he seems not to appreciate how much work, stress and energy goes into worrying about and saving a business in times like these.

    Good for this business for finding a way to survive and continue paying their employees. Totally unethical to take bailout money if it is not needed – this money could go to those in need (which there are a lot of).

  7. @Treester You say you don’t want communism, so why would you deny the right of people with means to enjoy the fruits of their labor, or even luck of the draw? If we want to feed and shelter the poor, great, then everyone else does that through government. That is different from letting people with money to legally spend it as they see fit.

    And what is wrong with providing jobs to workers and return to investors, who help make it all possible? Nothing.

  8. When I charge my quarantined hotel room to my American Airlines AAdvantage MasterCard or a different airline credit card, I just might have ample airline miles when I check out to fly to New York or New Jersey.

  9. Money isn’t worth anything if you don’t use it. I have no problem with the wealthy using their money anyway they please, as long as they paid their taxes, but I do believe in health care for all.

  10. @JackE – where did I say I wanted to deny business anything? In fact, I said I had no problem if business did that but we as a society should guarantee minimum levels for everyone. And this isn’t a question of legality – it’s a question of morality.

    I don’t need the safety net and very happy that I have the means to order from Amazon Fresh and not expose myself more than others as someone immunocompromised. But those people who deliver my food TO ME AND MANY OTHERS – immunocompromised or not – don’t really have a choice but to increase their risk to feed their family AND as a byproduct, keep the rest of us with more means to remain even more safe. If we invest in BASIC social safety nets, then WE ALL as investors, become the shareholders and reap the benefits of maintaining a functioning society in events such as this.

    Back to your original criticism – can you cite where I said I DIDN’T want this company to do this? My commentary was on Gary saying socialism is about keeping everyone down. Nope, that would be communism. Socialism is where you have a minimum bar (i.e. basic human needs covered) but with sky being the limit for those with entrepreneurial spirit (i.e. the guy who owns a hotel, and the investors who care more about stock price by offshoring work but then saying they care about US employment lol).

  11. “they’ve come under tremendous criticism for offering this”

    One person per your article and the only article you’ve linked to. Followed with a message about how Socialism is bad. Where is the rest of the tremendous criticism and where is a large portion of the population criticizing them for staying open because Socialism?

  12. Treester – people like you are why people like me have guns. You are a miserable, petty, jealous little troglodyte.

  13. “The socialist ethos isn’t just about making sure people have what they need, it’s about making sure nobody has more than that.”

    Wow, what a great burn. Did you learn that from your b-school intro economics professor? A good faith and nuanced read of the criticism of this might consider the long term consequences of having 2 health care systems – one for the wealthy, and one for everyone else – and the ways that harms everyone, including those like me who could afford to stay in a luxury isolation suite like this.

  14. Reality Bites – my cogent argument for elevating the minimums FOR EVERYONE is why you need to have guns. Okay calm down snowflake.

    And that’s rich calling me a troglodyte. Someone call Alanis or get this guy a dictionary.

  15. @Treester Socialists have called for a tax on wealth (in addition to a tax on income). That’s one example of why socialism and communism have morphed into the same ugly virus. In the meantime, I hope you are tipping your Amazon Fresh driver very, very, very well indeed.

  16. @Tweester. I have a problem with your example: “basic human needs met: e.g. universal healthcare that won’t bankrupt a family (not just an individual) because of a lung transplant, say.” Suppose you are 70 years old. Do you think a socialist medical system would give you a “lung transplant”? I don’t. The medical system could save society a lot of money by convincing you that you are a burden to society and maybe it is time to commit suicide with dignity. Morphine yes, lung transplant, not a chance.

  17. Absolutely brilliant remake of a business model
    Others should take notice about such opportunity

  18. It’s a smart way to stay in business and genuinely makes the lives of people better. It’s providing great service for guests in time of need and providing good paying jobs to nurses and hotel staff that I bet are going to be handsomely tipped. So many of the higher paying jobs that can put people into the upper middle class only exist because the rich are willing to pay for things others won’t. We really don’t need private nurses, private chefs, private trainers, personal security, personal drivers, yacht crews, butlers, home caretakers, live in nannies and a host of other jobs but the rich pay for it.

    Healthcare for all sounds nice but it does nothing to stop the ridiculously high cost of medical care. One way or the other productive people are going to be forced to pay for it like they do now with insurance premiums or through much higher taxes. The only way to lower costs is if hospitals start competing and list their prices like every other business does instead of backroom negotiated rates for insurance companies. Single payer systems aren’t going to lower the costs as hospitals have no incentive to lower costs when the government will pay. Other countries are much smaller, doctors make much less, a lot operate their own government hospitals and they have strict legal liability protections instead of the malpractice racket that drives up costs by 30%. I rather just pay for medical care if I know exactly upfront what a procedure and a stay costs that is fair and reasonable. Free medical care does nothing to disincentivize bad behaviors which people have a right to do (drugs, smoking, obesity, risky sports, tanning, bad compliance with diabetes care) but shouldn’t be forced on others to pay for. In the U.S. we don’t live in a country like Norway where everyone shares the same culture, has the same genetic predispositions to disease and where care can be quantified and well planned for. The U.S. is 3000 miles coast to coast with 330 million people. Norway has 5 million people. The U.K. has 66 million and its NHS is always under strain and problematic. Please don’t push that on a country with 6 times the people. Socialized medicine didn’t save Italy or Spain (where the Prime Minister is member of a socialist party) from Coronavirus so don’t tout it as something great.

  19. Anyone who thinks Switzerland is “socialist” isn’t paying attention. It’s paradise here. Everyone is paid a living wage, the health care is excellent, the air is clean, the water is clean, the natural beauty is stunning, and the quality of life is off the charts. If the word “socialist” triggers you, great, good for you. In the meantime, everyone here in Switzerland (where capitalism rules) knows it’s paradise. Signed, a Californian who moved to Zürich a few years ago and will never look back.

  20. The arguments against providing a social net here are more pathetic than a youtube comment thread. Since the demographic here is significantly more educated (presumably), that would rule out stupidity and just leave ‘I got mine f*** you.’ Fortunately the other 95% of the world aren’t such assholes. Maybe one day we might catch up.

  21. @ Treester:

    “Socialism is where you have a minimum bar (i.e. basic human needs covered) but with sky being the limit for those with entrepreneurial spirit…”

    I don’t know what school taught you that absurd definition of socialism, but you should go ask for your money back.

    And pick up the Collected Works of Milton Friedman and start reading.

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