Holidays just aren’t what they used to be. Instead of heading for a quick break in Phuket or Bali, most of us spend our weekends ensconced in hotels or exploring outlying islands on a yacht, desperately trying to scratch that travel itch.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work and play and shaped how we view our city as a place of leisure. Over the last year, “daycations”—daytime experiences within hotels—have grown in popularity responding to the essential need for a change of scenery. It was something that Martha Waslen, founder of travel start-up DayAway, noticed herself as she and her family were grounded in Singapore.
“We live in the Orchard area surrounded by so many beautiful hotels. When circuit breaker lifted, the one we kept visiting over and over was the Shangri-La. The facilities there are just so beautiful—they have a gorgeous pool, a fantastic kids club called Buds, a new gym that I know they were selling membership for. There were so many of us with kids who wanted to see something different from our homes and I was wondering why there wasn’t any way to use the hotel facilities without going on a staycation,” shared Waslen who previously worked in lifestyle and tech roles at beauty platform Luxola and Ralph Lauren.
This personal observation propelled Waslen to contact the hotels themselves as well as to speak to friends in the hospitality and travel space. While she knew that a lot of the properties were “dark and sitting empty” she said there was some pushback when she asked about possibly spending the day there. “They liked the idea but the hotels said they didn’t know how to do it or their systems didn’t allow for it.”
The gap eventually led her to establish DayAway, an online platform that specialises in curating and retailing in daytime hotel experiences. The homegrown start-up has partnered with notable brands including the Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Intercontinental Singapore, Andaz Singapore, The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore and will have 30 properties joining their portfolio soon.