Singapore builds world’s first ‘bubble’ hotel for business travelers to skip quarantine

Singapore builds world’s first ‘bubble’ hotel for business travelers to skip quarantine
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Singapore builds the world’s first ‘bubble’ hotel for business travelers to skip quarantine.

Travelers can bypass a 14-day quarantine by staying in the bubble facility, but they can’t leave it.

The facility has 150 guest rooms, gym pods, and 40 meeting rooms with air-tight glass panels and separate ventilation systems.

As the world rolls out COVID-19 vaccines and international travel remains largely grounded, Singapore has opened up what it says is the world’s first bubble facility for non-quarantining business travelers.

The facility, called Connect@Changi, will allow business travelers to bypass the city-state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine – as long as they don’t leave the facility. Inside, guests will stay in hotel-like rooms, have meals delivered to a cubbyhole outside their door, and conduct in-person business meetings with Singaporeans and professionals from around the world in rooms with air-tight glass panels and separate ventilation systems.

The facility offers business travelers the option of resuming in-person meetings in a “safe and contained manner” while also boosting Singapore’s economic recovery.

The 780,000 square-foot facilities opened this week with 150 guest rooms and 40 meeting rooms, but it plans to be able to host 1,300 travelers by the end of the year. Room rates start at 384 Singapore dollars, or about $287, which is based on a minimum 24-hour stay and includes meals and COVID-19 tests. Singapore builds world’s first ‘bubble’ hotel for business travelers to skip quarantine, this will open doors for business traveler’s

Here’s what travelers can expect from the world’s first business travel bubble facility.

The facility was built inside the Singapore Expo Convention & Exhibition Centre, a roughly one-million-square-foot complex near Changi Airport that’s typically used for live concerts, conferences, and exhibitions.

To stay at the facility, travelers must apply on the Connect@Changi website and await approval. Connect@Changi will coordinate with the Singapore government to approve the special visa for business travelers.

Right now, travelers coming from any country can apply, with the exception of those coming from the UK and South Africa. But approval is not guaranteed; Singapore will consider factors including the COVID-19 status of the traveler’s country and the departure country of other travelers staying at the facility at the same time.

They may be able to skip a two-week quarantine, but those who stay at Connect@Changi should prepare their nostrils for multiple COVID-19 PCR tests.

Before leaving for Singapore, guests must take a COVID-19 PCR test in their country of departure within 72 hours of their flight. Once they arrive at the airport in Singapore, they’ll be tested again. And while staying at the Connect@Changi facility, guests will be required to undergo additional PCR testing at the on-site testing center on days three, seven, and 14 of their stay.

That means that a five-day stay would require a total of three COVID-19 PCR tests.

After travelers land in Singapore and get their first PCR tests at Changi Airport, a shuttle will transport them to the airside entrance of Connect@Changi, which is reserved for international arrivals to the facility and staff.

The center is a five-minute drive from the airport.

Once they’ve checked in at reception, guests will be shown directly to their rooms, where they must remain until they get the results of their arrival COVID-19 PCR test.

The facility currently has 150 guest rooms open, but 660 rooms are expected to be open when the first phase is completed in May.

When Connect@Changi is fully completed later this year, it will have the capacity to accommodate roughly 1,300 business travelers at a time, according to press materials.

When a traveler first arrives, their room number will be illuminated red to indicate the traveler is awaiting the results of their PCR test.

The guest will receive their test results via text message in about six to 12 hours, after which the traveler is allowed to leave their room.

If the test comes back positive, the traveler will immediately be transported to a medical facility in Singapore and the Connect@Changi will follow all of the Ministry of Health’s contact tracing and testing protocols.

During their stay at Connect@Changi, guests will use a free mobile app to do everything from booking meeting rooms to choosing their meals and reserving a workout in a gym pod.

The facility has three types of rooms: an Executive Twin room with two twin-size beds; an Executive King room with one king-size bed; and a Premier King, with a king-size bed and the added perk of a view of the indoor courtyard.

While the king-size rooms are typically meant for one person, a married couple would be allowed to share a room if they were both traveling to Singapore for business purposes.

None of the rooms, regardless of their size, has a window to the true outdoors; all windows look into the expo center.

The guest rooms are smaller than a typical hotel room but seemed to be outfitted with everything necessary for a short stay.

In the Premier King room, the bed takes up most of the space. But there’s also a desk and a 43-inch, wall-mounted TV. Phones in each room allow travelers to make free local calls.

The bathrooms have no bathtubs. Toiletries are provided in the showers.

There’s also a mini-fridge, kettle, and microwave.

On the bedside table is a pop of greenery in the form of a live plant with ionizing technology that claims to clean airborne pollutants and reduce anxiety and lethargy.

The Premier King rooms overlook the courtyards, where live plants are mixed with glowing optical fiber lights designed to resemble fields of lalang, a type of grass native to the region.

The nightly rate at Connect@Changi includes three meals per day delivered to the guest’s room. For a contactless delivery, the food is left in a cubbyhole right outside the door.

Guests can also order food from any of the hundreds of restaurants at Changi Airport through the mobile app, or through local delivery apps like Foodpanda or Grab.

In the facility’s common areas, travelers are allowed to mingle with other guests while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.

The facility’s two courtyards were designed to resemble tropical outdoor spaces in line with Singapore’s “City in a Garden” nickname.

The floor is carpeted with artificial grass, but the greenery surrounding the courtyard is real.

Two dome-shaped pavilions serve as additional workspaces.

Free WiFi is available throughout all common areas, meeting rooms, and guest rooms.

A posted sign indicates that 30 people can be in each courtyard at a time.

Each courtyard has a gym pod, which travelers can reserve for a private workout.

Guests reserve the pod via the Connect@Changi app and scan a QR code to unlock the door.

Inside, there’s a treadmill, a cycling machine, a bench press machine, and free weights.

Each courtyard also has vending machines and a Starbucks coffee station.

The facility opened with 40 meeting rooms of varying sizes, but Connect@Changi expects to have a total of 170 meeting rooms open by May. Notably, none of the meeting rooms has a window.

In the meeting rooms that are designed to host outside visitors who are meeting with Connect@Changi guests, the two groups will be separated by an air-tight glass panel, and each side of the room has its own separate ventilation system.

A microphone system allows the two groups to hear each other through the glass.

The largest meeting room available is a board room with a video conferencing setup that can host up to 11 people on each side.

If they want to conduct a lunch meeting, travelers can arrange for meals to be sent to the meeting room.

Visitors based in Singapore are not required to undergo COVID-19 testing before coming to meet with a guest at the facility, as they will have separate entrances, exits, and ventilation systems. Singapore builds the world’s first ‘bubble’ hotel for business travelers to skip quarantine is really great news for businesses around the world.

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