Combining business with leisure: the rise of the “bleisure” trip

We’re now used to working from home – why not from the beach? Chris Carter reports

How business travel will look in the post-pandemic world is one of the great unanswered questions, says Conor Sen on Bloomberg. At the same time, many people are looking forward – or at least planning to book – their first big post-lockdown holiday. That’s where the concept of “bleisure” comes in. “Our growing comfort with remote and flexible work arrangements may open up an even bigger category of travel that combines both business and leisure.” 

Particularly in the summer months, when the schools are out and work is slow, it may become normal to work “outside the office for two or three weeks from a scenic destination on the water or in the mountains”. In our “always on” culture, when you’re expected to respond promptly to emails at all hours, doing so from the Hamptons or Puerto Vallarta in Mexico “beats having to do it after commuting home from the office”. Airlines and accommodation will have to adapt. Travel will no longer be all about air miles and hotels will need internet fast enough to handle videoconferencing. 

Fun (and work) in the sun

Falling sales mean the transformation is already under way. United Airlines, for example, has expanded services to places on the water in the eastern US. And Marriott has been working to turn its hotels into “bleisure” destinations, says Laura Forman in The Wall Street Journal. Through its “Work Anywhere” promotion, travellers have been able to book rooms for just a day or get a full-day’s worth out of a single night’s booking. 

Hotels are also offering longer-stay packages, notes Sarah Marshall in The Independent. Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels, in Mauritius, offers a 65% discount for long-term stays of at least two months, while Heritage Resorts, located on Domaine de Bel Ombre on the south coast, offers two-month stays in a villa from £2,800 a month, including housekeeping, pool and garden maintenance, and Wi-Fi. 

Or how about an extended stay in a spa? Health and Fitness Travel offers 30 nights of pampering at Absolute Sanctuary on the beautiful island of Koh Samui in Thailand, from £7,875 per person, full board, including a wellness programme and transfers. Guests receive an in-depth wellness consultation, followed by “an array of rejuvenating treatments”, such as “lymphatic draining and Swedish massage”.

Slightly closer to home, the UPA Medical Spa Centre, in the Lithuanian mineral spring resort of Druskininkai, has a minimum 14-night “Long-term Rehabilitation” package from €945 per person, and a three-night “Time for a Change” package from €267 “to boost one’s wellbeing in the age of lockdowns and remote work”.

Working from the beach

Even governments have been trying to cash in on the “working from the beach” ethos. Last summer, barbadoswelcomestamp.bb with its 12-month “Welcome Stamp”. The visa costs $3,000 for a family and applicants need to be earning $50,000 a year. Also in the Caribbean, Dominica, the Dutch island of Curaçao, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda and the Bahamas all run similar schemes that allow visitors to work remotely for up to a year, with varying fees and conditions. 

Outside the Caribbean, Dubai and Mauritius also welcome “digital nomads”. Do note, however, that extended stays can result in tax liabilities for both employees and employers, so it’s best to seek advice before jetting off.

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