I know I’m not alone in that despite some anxiety about having to fly, business calls and so the need to travel between Cape Town and Johannesburg is a reality. I was invited by both Airlink and Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff to see how safe, seamless – and luxurious – this can be.
Flying with Airlink
The pandemic has reeked unimaginable chaos on the tourism industry and airlines have been some of the worst impacted. As we begin to move into the new unknown, in the South African context Airlink has quickly proven to be the leader in the pack with unrivalled domestic (currently 23 destinations) and regional offerings.
Airlink’s recent rebranding and the departure from its previous link with SAA has given new freedom and is a powerful demonstration of its stability and growth. Further to this Airlink has recently signed an interline agreement with Qatar and Emirates – even further expanding its presence and reach.
Leaving home in Cape Town, I was taking one of my first flights since lockdown restrictions had been lifted and definitely felt some measure of discomfort at having to fly. The airport process was quick (download your health questionnaire here and print at home to save time) as was boarding.
I’d the privilege of flying business class for the first time on a domestic flight. The seat place is notably generous and the catering superb – even their economy class is the most spacious I’ve seen, with meals complimentary. For flyers used to economy class, the presence of real cutlery and crockery, along with premium wines, is a treat. Insiders tip: Book seat 1A if you can – it’s a solitary seat and benefits from front-row extra space.
Joburg-Luxe with Four Seasons
Disembarking from the plane the business class didn’t stop there. Leaving the terminal, I was greeted by Simon from Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff and driven grandly in a Mercedes S400 to the iconic Joburg hotel.
Johannesburg’s historic ‘Parks’ suburbs form a green residential corridor between the city and Sandton, and Four Seasons straddles one of their ridges giving expansive views of the world’s third-biggest man-made forest. As the golf cart winds up the cobblestoned street, taking you to your plush suite, it’s hard to imagine that you’re in the heart of Joburg and not a secluded Italian village.
I’d read about Four Season’s international ‘Lead with Care’ response to the pandemic and would be visiting to see how they continue their world-class hospitality, but with strict attention to safety protocols.
These newfound protocols can be a challenge for the hospitality industry, used to greeting us with beaming smiles and welcoming handshakes. Although things are different, hotels are moving mountains to ensure we’re comfortable. Four Seasons have entered a consulting agreement with Johns Hopkins Medicine International to ensure the highest health and safety decisions. Guided by science but delivered with care.
Some of the key safety implementations include:
- Rooms disinfected daily with blacklight inspection
- Focused re-training programs
- Public areas cleaned hourly
- Lead With Carekits placed in each room
- Social distancing measures in all services
- Modified spa menu and services
- contactless check-in
- Restaurants and bars with reduced capacity and digital menus
- Four Seasons App and Chat providing guests
One innovation that was indispensable for me was the Four Seasons App. You can have direct, real-time, contactless interactions with employees from their own device. From losing my key to ordering food… it’s truly a fabulous invention. Give it a download and start a chat with one of their properties and you’ll see what I mean.
John Davison, President and Chief Executive Officer at Four Seasons says proudly: “For nearly 60 years, Four Seasons has set the global standard for excellence in hospitality and service. Lead With Care is a continuation of this high standard, building upon the strong foundation of trust and confidence that we have established through decades of experience.”
I couldn’t have felt more secure and reassured. Thank you to both Airlink and Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff for showing me how easy, safe, and luxurious the journey between Cape Town and Johannesburg can be.