Travelling in the post-Covid world comes with its fair share of uncertainties, as we all adapt to the ‘new normal’. Friend of Scott Dunn Olly Evans headed out to Costa Navarino just last week and let us know exactly how the experience had changed.
Having lost our ski trip to Covid in March, we left it to the last minute to tell our girls that we were going away on holiday, fearful of another disappointment. With just days to go, news came of quarantine being reinstated for Spain and we feared the worst. While there would be no logic to limit travel to Greece (which has managed the pandemic far better than the UK), logic has not been evident in the UK government’s decision making thus far, so we didn’t count any chickens. Nevertheless, with less than 24 hours to go, we packed our bags and on 1 August, we headed to Gatwick at the traditional ungodly hour for travel to Greece.
I make a point of avoiding peak travel times so can’t say how bad it would normally be in August but while by no means dead, LGW was much like my pre-season trips in mid-May. Other than the masks (with some countrymen oblivious to the need to wear it above the nose), the airport experience was entirely normal. We masked up, made our way through the airport, avoided a queue having remembered to complete our compulsory PLF beforehand, avoided Pret A Manger, found a quiet corner and ate our own snacks before boarding. The flight was full but EasyJet managed boarding well, the flight itself was unremarkable and disembarking lacked the traditional scrum as everyone stayed seated until their row was next. Kalamata airport is barely more than a shed anyway but, other than a 15-minute wait in the sun to get into passport control (but families prioritised), it was all BAU.
I must admit that finally removing the masks was a relief but we all managed to keep them on from leaving our car to getting our room key, including our 6-year-old. On arrival at Costa Navarino, we had a moment of angst while having our temperatures taken (our youngest never fails to get ill when we go away), but all was good. Check-in was slicker than usual and once past the lobby, we forgot all about Coronavirus.
In resort, the experience is largely unaffected except that it is blissfully quiet. Costa Navarino has invested €600,000 in Covid measures, mainly intensified cleaning (e.g sanitising sun loungers as soon as you leave). The staff all wear visors which are vastly preferable to face masks in not hiding the warm hospitality (admittedly that might be an advantage in Paris) and 2m signs remind people to respect personal space.
There are a few other changes, but you have to be paying attention to notice them – hand sanitiser is available at every turn, rooms don’t have the “touchable” items (e.g. the minibar isn’t pre-stocked and resort information is on the TV only). The restaurants encourage you to use your iPad/phone to read the menu (but have menus if you want one), buffets are served by a person rather than guests helping themselves and they are trying to apply a “one-way system” around the various counters. Finally, a handful of things are closed – the indoor climbing wall and indoor pool, and I think the bowling alley, but everything else (gym, pools, spa, waterpark etc) was working and I wouldn’t have noticed anything being closed if I hadn’t thought about it.
The beauty is that it was so quiet even in the first week of August – we didn’t need to plan restaurant reservations like Ocado delivery slots, days in advance; there was no queue for the waterslides and we could choose from a wide range of sunloungers at any time of day. And best of all, the resort wasn’t overly dominated by British accents, and our kids even made friends with Greek children around the pools.
Back home, it seems that Cornwall and Norfolk were heaving with visitors causing parking mayhem and social distancing went out of the window. Coming back to a heatwave was lovely except that we don’t have a pool and the lack of air conditioning.