In this lockdown world of limited freedom, almost everyone is planning their next move. For many, that means dreaming of their next travel experience; plotting the first place they’ll go when we are free to roam once more. If there’s anyone that deserves a break once coronavirus has abated, it’s the hard-working men and women on our frontline.
Some NHS workers have had to move out of their own homes – separating themselves from vulnerable friends and family – so that they can continue to save lives each day, while others have missed holidays and the opportunity for a well-earned break.
In recognition of their hard work and sacrifice, the travel industry has come up with some fantastic initiatives – both in the UK and beyond – in order to reward and recognise their tireless, lifesaving work in the only way they know how; with a free holiday once this is all over.
Taking to social media to spread some much-needed joy, these initiatives are offering a range of holidays for NHS staff – from a week in India to a weekend in a holiday cottage in Cornwall. Here are some of the best.
The snowball effect
At the beginning of April, Sarah White, owner of The Hayloft, a cosy self-contained studio for two on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, posted a giveaway on the site’s Instagram account @thehayloftdevon for a two-night free stay for a NHS worker some time in the future. She added #treatournhs and encouraged others to follow suit.
“I just thought that if we, as a small business, can make this gesture, then hopefully bigger businesses would do the same,” said White. And she wasn’t wrong. Soon, larger companies had come on board. CoolStays encouraged its members to join the initiative, while Classic Cottages has pledged five £500 gift vouchers..
The Pig hotel group was the first hotel company to sign up, promising 190 stays to NHS staff and carers across their properties. Each will include breakfast, dinner with wine and a tour of the kitchen garden.
But it is going through all the stories of NHS workers that has really struck a chord. “I’ve been told that we’re offering a light at the end of the tunnel during a dark time,” said White. “And to see that light spreading across the country – you just couldn’t ask for more.”
Nominate an NHS Hero
It’s not just holidays at home that are being offered by British companies, but some are pushing the boat out to offer longer, international breaks. TransIndus are asking for nominations for an NHS hero to win a luxury trip to India worth £5,000.
“As a travel company, we rarely stay put in one place for long,” the tour operator said. “At this time of year, our team would normally be planning their own summer travels through Asia, to seek out new experiences to share with our clients. Now, things are very different for all of us. It is a time to commend our NHS heroes and reward them as best we can.”
The winner will be drawn at random after the closing date and will receive a tailor-made holiday for two, including flights, full-board accommodation, transport and sightseeing – plus more.
You can nominate your NHS hero until May 31 (transindus.co.uk/about/nominate-an-nhs-hero)
From the heart
Last week, Sunvil announced that they were offering a seven-night holiday to Greece for a frontline key worker and their family (up to 4 people) after the loss of one of their own.
“Our dear colleague and friend, Ismet (Issy) Emin sadly passed away at the end of last week,” they said in a statement. “He was a much-valued and much-loved member of our family, with an ear for all and a spirit to light up the room.
“A life so beautifully lived deserves to be beautifully remembered. Sunvil will be paying our thanks to the team at West Middlesex Hospital, but we would also like to extend our thanks to the NHS community as a whole in memory of Issy.”
Nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, including the name, place of work and reason for the nomination (sunvil.co.uk)
A room with a view
Earlier this week, Debbie Robinson, founder of 10 or More, launched a new campaign #HotelsThanksTheNHS. With over 100 hotels already on board, the scheme hopes to thank the staff of the NHS for their tireless efforts.
The list includes some rather impressive names, such as The Standard, The Landmark and Nobu in London, and stays in Iconic Luxury Hotels across the UK including Cliveden, Chewton Glen and The Lygon Arms – plus many, many more.
“I have been amazed by the generosity of these hoteliers, many of which are suffering themselves with the dramatic loss of business,” said Robinson. “These weekend breaks represent a small but meaningful token of appreciation to the amazing NHS staff who we owe so much to. I hope that the gift of time away from it all, in lovely surroundings, will allow these incredible people to relax and enjoy some peace later this year.”
By enlisting the support of so many renowned hotels, the scheme aims to reach as many NHS frontline staff as possible.
The campaign will remain open for the foreseeable future, until the emergency is over (10ormore.com/hotelsthankthenhs/)
Sleep under the stars
On April 27, Sawday’s and Canopy & Stars launched #holidaysforgood. As well as the generous donations by many independent property owners to #treatournhs, the new scheme promises an additional £25,000 worth of Canopy & Stars vouchers to a 500 further NHS workers.
“Having watched the events unfold over the last few weeks, there is one group of people that stand out as the true heroes of this pandemic; the frontline staff of the NHS who are risking their own lives every day to save those of others,” said Mike Bevens, Managing Director of Sawday’s and Canopy & Stars. “We wanted to find a way that we, as a travel company, can support them. Inspired by Sawday’s and Canopy & Stars owners who have already started donating stays and holidays to those working on the frontline, we decided to launch #holidaysforgood.”
The initiative asks members of the public to nominate their NHS heroes for a free stay at a Sawday’s or Canopy & Stars property. “We’re also giving away 500 Canopy & Stars gift cards worth £50, to help give as many people as we can the opportunity of a restorative escape,” said Bevens.
Nominations are open until June 2 (sawdays.co.uk/holidays-for-good/)
A small token of appreciation
Specialising in luxury villa holidays across Europe and the Mediterranean, Simpson Travel are a favourite of Telegraph readers. To thank the dedication of health workers across the UK, they are offering 10 free holidays in 2021.
“I have taken great comfort from the spirit of cooperation, resolve and sheer kind-heartedness I have seen,” said Graham Simpson, Founder. “Like everyone else, I have been truly humbled by the dedication and courage shown by those working in our NHS and care homes. I am incredibly moved by their selflessness and resilience and, as a company, we would like to do something to show our appreciation for those on the frontline of this emergency.”
Nominations should be sent to email@example.com before the end of June (simpsontravel.com/about-us)
At your service
Original Travel’s raffle
On April 9, Original Travel launched the At Your Service Campaign – a raffle promising 400 luxury prizes to NHS staff, including a luxury holiday for two worth up to £10,000. The other prizes have been donated by other well-known British brands including Monica Vinader, Swarovski, Laurent Perrier, Goat, Jigsaw, L K Bennett and Rupert Sanderson.
Among the luxury gifts are other travel breaks, including a weekend stays at various locations across the UK, a family day pass to Warwick Castle and a relaxing spa day from spabreaks.com.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response,” said Tom Barber, Founder and Director of Original Travel. “We know it’s a small gesture, but one we hope it goes some way towards expressing our collective gratitude to NHS staff for the selfless way in which they are tackling the worst crisis this country has faced in a generation and more. We hope that the campaign reaches NHS staff far and wide and that it will give them something to look forward to soon.”
The At Your Service raffle is open to entrants from across the NHS until July 5 (originaltravel.co.uk/nhs-competition-entry)
Breaks in Spain
Launched by expats Ian Rutter and Andrew Watson, the owners of the British-run B&B Casa Higueras in Moclín, Grenada, #MyTravelPledge promises free stays at 17 independently owned properties across Andalucia to winners.
“Everybody involved in this growing campaign want to give something back to those people working at the forefront of the fight to control coronavirus,” explained Rutter. “As small travel and tourism businesses, we have no bookings due to travel restrictions, so feel that this is the very least we can do. We also hope that, by being a part of this initiative, it will give everyone something to look forward to, and we all need that right now.”
You can nominate an NHS or health care worker through their dedicated website (mytravelpledge.com)
Something for everyone
Beachcombers Hotels & Resorts
While many are offering free holidays for a select number of NHS workers, other travel companies are expressing their gratitude through a reduction in cost for all frontline workers.
For those with a love of the heat. Beachcombers Hotels & Resorts are offering all NHS and private hospital front line staff fighting the coronavirus 50 per cent off stays and meal plans across all of their Mauritian hotels on selected dates.
“Beachcomber has decided it is time to give back and to serve those who have served us throughout the pandemic,” a representative told us. “With this exclusive offer designed only for medical staff and their immediate family, those who are currently working the hardest will be rewarded.”
Stays can be booked until September 30 (01483 445 610; beachcombertours.uk)
A little pampering
Cliveden House, Chewton Glen and The Lygon Arms
While these three prestigious hotels are already offering stays as part of the #HotelsThanksTheNHS campaign, they are also offering a little r&r. Until the end of May, they will be donating Twilight Spa vouchers to local NHS heroes.
Every voucher purchased on their websites will be matched to pamper a frontline worker when this is all over to reward for their hard work and dedication during this pandemic.
More information: chewtonglen.com/at-home-with-iconic/nhs-vouchers/
Have you noticed your own nearby small businesses doing innovative, creative and kind things to adapt? Share your stories below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with pictures.
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