It is the holiday season. Many of you are probably set to spend the new year in an exotic destination. Right? It might not be a bad idea to give a thought to safety before you head out either by yourself or with your family/ dear ones. Be it a holiday or a business trip, your safety and security is very important for a peaceful holiday.
What you need to know about your hotel
~ Almost every hotel will have a safety clause posted in its rooms, saying the hotel will not be held responsible for any theft. This applies to things stored in the in-room safes too. “You can check on the hotel policy by calling them up while making your bookings. If you are just checking in, ask about this at the reception,” says Anuj Gemawat, a hotel management graduate and hotelier from Bangalore.
~ Says Andrew Kelly, security and safety manager of the Grand Hyatt, Dubai, “Most exclusive hotels follow (a policy of) non-disclosure as far as their guests’ identities are concerned.” Also, he adds, many modern day hotels do public area surveillance and employ plain clothes security personnel.
~ In addition, rooms are secured and access is recorded and ‘auditable’. This means, a client can request for a ‘lock audit’ if, for some reason, he needs to check who has accessed his room.
~ While hiring staff, most hotels do background screenings to ensure maximum security for its customers and property.
How to keep your valuables safe
~ “Unless you are travelling to a function like a wedding or a party, carrying too much jewellery is avoidable,” says Gemawat.
~ Kelly adds, “Travellers’ cheques, passports, etc, should be (kept) secure in the hotel’s safe deposit box rooms. The safe deposit boxes there are like those in a bank. Each requires two keys to access and has a sign in/ sign out facility.”
~ It’s best to carry your passport and money in a belt pouch, so that it doesn’t land up in the wrong hands. Or leave it in the vault at the hotel reception.
~ Always carry traveller’s cheques. “There is yet another option,” says Gemawat: “You can avail of prepaid debit cards, which cannot be used without your authorisation. And they come with a safety cover. It’s far better than cash.”
~ “Do not carry loads of money unnecessarily when lounging by the pool or inside the hotel. Keep it secure in your safe. Take what you need. Sign most of your bills in your room. Keep copies of signed bills to address any disputes during check out,” adds Kelly.
Safety tips for single travellers, especially women
~ “Never step out into new territory without keeping someone informed back home or at work,” says Gemawat.
~ “If you feel someone is offering too much unwanted attention, bring the matter to the attention of someone senior in the hotel,” says Kelly.
~ While using a hotel’s facilities (such as the pool), choose a spot within view of attendants. This ensures quick service should someone bother you. By raising a hand, you can let others know you need attention.
~ “Do not offer your room number or information that you are travelling alone to anyone (unless you want the attention). You can always say your partner is joining you shortly,” adds Kelly.
Safety tips for travellers with kids, elderly relations and pets
~ Always carry basic first aid in your travel kit.
~ “Explain to your kids the importance of staying together, especially in a mall or in an amusement park. Tell them about the consequences of getting lost,” says Gemawat.
~ Ensure you keep some sort of identification in your child’s pocket — name, telephone, name of the hotel you are staying at, your cell, the number of someone who can contact you and other emergency numbers.
~ “Hotels may offer a baby-sitting service or a child minder,” says Kelly, “A child minder is someone who only watches the kid but does not engage with them and is rarely trained to deal with any type of emergency or situation. It is advisable to check in advance about the facilities available and how your child will be looked after,” says Kelly.
While traveling with elders who have mobility issues, check with the hotel you are heading to about wheelchair access or lifts. “You would be surprised as to how some really good hotels overlook such really sensitive issues,” says Gemawat.
~ When it comes to pets, always check before you leave, as most hotels may not allow pets.
~ Inform the hotel well in advance that they may need to cater for a pet. State the breed of the pet, vaccination details etc, and carry the relevant papers along. It would be best to get a signed letter from your vet that your pet will cause no harm.
~ There are hotels that take care of a pet like any other guest.
A last word
Travel light. Avoid carrying unnecessary items. Never leave things lying around in the hotel room, at the hotel restaurants, at the poolside or the gym. Keep valuables locked up.
And yes, enjoy your trip!
Published in Rediff.com, on 22nd December, 2006.