The Tatler Guide To Surviving Quarantine In Hong Kong
You’ve taken the leap and booked to travel abroad over Christmas: what next? The government has ruled that all incoming travellers now need to self-isolate in a hotel for two weeks upon their return to Hong Kong—at their own expense. You could say it’s a way for a beleaguered hospitality industry to recoup some of the income lost after a year of low tourism, as well as a way to deter travelling and keep the virus at bay during the winter season.
The government has released the names of 16 recommended hotels for quarantiners, but the list is decidedly unglamorous and leaves a lot to be desired. If we are to be confined within four walls for 14 days, we want the experience to be as comfortable as staying at home.
Here is how to master those two weeks—the Tatler way.
A yoga mat, like this one from Sugarmat, will help keep quarantiners limber (Photo: Courtesy of Ovolo Hotels)
TRX suspension training enables strength-training in small spaces (Photo: Courtesy of Ovolo Hotels)
Muscular strength takes about three weeks to begin declining, while cardio ability starts diminishing after only a matter of days. Emerge from quarantine looking fitter than when you entered by building a daily fitness routine and sticking to it. Still can’t do a press-up? Would love to master ‘the crow’ pose? Want to build up to a five-minute plank? Without life’s usual distractions, quarantine could be a great opportunity to focus on your fitness goals.
Improve your core stability and ankle and knee strength in a small space with a balance board. Decathlon and Joinfit sell perfectly serviceable boards. But the fanciest wobble board out there is luxury sports equipment maker NOHrD’s Eau-Me Boardfrom, which uses a water-filled base and comes in an ash, walnut, cherry or stainless steel finish. Whatever it takes to get you through.
A nonslip yoga mat is an essential part of quarantine fitness gear and can be stowed away neatly when not in use. Decathlon’s super-chunky, 15mm-thick Pilates mat has become a mainstay at studios throughout the city. If you want something a little more slimline or enjoyable to look at, Sugar Mat—available at Caelum Greene—offers a range so nice you won’t want to roll the mat away.
Easier to pack and less cumbersome than weights, rubber bands allow resistance training when space is limited. There are dozens of apps and YouTube videos with training ideas to follow, so things don’t need to get boring. Pick up bands from Decathlon or Theraband, stocked at T8 Fitness.
A closed door is all you need to set up a TRX exercise system. The suspension training technique, developed by a Navy Seal, is beloved by physiotherapists and personal trainers for its simplicity and effectiveness, particularly for body weight and core stability exercises. Try their website for the originals, or Decathlon for a popular alternative.
Yes, seriously. Prevent yourself going loopy, pacing around the confines of your room to get your daily steps in, and instead bring a portable treadmill with you. The Amazfit AirRun Treadmill—available at Gigasports, Fortress and Gone Running—is compact, folds down flat in five seconds, features shock absorption to minimise noise and pairs with heart rate monitoring devices like your smartwatch.
Some time away from the elements—sun, pollution and overly air-conditioned offices—will give your skin a chance to reset. Even if you’re staying in a hotel with the best spa in the city, you won’t be allowed to use its services. Instead, stock up on pampering equipment like face masks and skincare before your flight or have a friend deliver them to your hotel. Without the pressures of socialising or having to go to an office every day, challenge yourself by taking a break from alcohol or caffeine—and see if you feel better after two weeks.
Some hotels, like the Ovolo chain, are offering daily in-room dining vouchers when buying a two-week package. However, you don’t need to be limited to what the hotel room service offers: order from Deliveroo or FoodPanda to keep your diet varied during your stay. Choosing to stay in busier urban areas will increase the delivery options available to you. Most hotel rooms come with a fridge and a kettle for storage and simple food preparation. However, some residences, like the Ramada in North Point, offer family rooms with small kitchens and accept deliveries from supermarkets like ParknShop.
Two weeks without human contact can take its toll on the most self-assured individuals. Staying sane in lockdown will involve a careful balancing act of not depriving yourself of communication with the outside world, but also not falling victim to FOMO through addiction to friends’ social media feeds. As well as scheduling calls with family or friends to have something to look forward to, take time to log off by meditating or reading. If things start feeling insurmountable, consider seeking help from an online counselling service, like Better Help.
If you are returning to Hong Kong with children in tow, that two-week quarantine just became a lot more challenging. On online quarantine support forums, the Dorsett Wanchai, Ovolo Southside, Regal Hotel and Little Tai Hang have all emerged as favourites among parents who have completed their stays with kids. Search “HK Quarantine support group” on Facebook for crowd-sourced advice from parents who have survived family lockdown.
Ovolo doesn’t merely accept quarantiners, it embraces them with a package that will leave guests wondering where those two weeks went. The hotel chain’s quarantine concierge package (at the Southside and Central locations) includes perks, such as daily barista coffee and happy hour, Apple TV and Alexa, a leafy plant “to bring the outside world in”, daily step challenges with prizes, and a celebratory toast at the end of the stay.
On the dedicated Facebook group for quarantiners, the Dorsett Wanchai has emerged as one of the most popular choices. Rooms start from just HK$490 a night for guests booking the 14-day stay, which includes super-fast WiFi, weekly laundry, on-demand test kits from Project Screen and access to Dorsett Mart, a 24-hour online shop selling snacks and toiletries and renting out equipment, including yoga and gym sets, a folding treadmill, a spinning bike, a Nintendo Switch, eReaders, a Bluetooth speaker and even a microwave.
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