Travel bug: Why tourism in Asia will never be the same
Bali's empty resorts, Thai luxury quarantine and an industry in crisis
Bruno Huber says he is the happiest hotel manager in Bangkok: He actually has guests in his 293-room luxury property. A former Hilton, its legendary garden was once famous for fertility shrines dotted with large, garish wooden phalluses. Today, the garden is every bit as manicured and regal as before, but guests maintain a safe distance from each other as they tramp anticlockwise around the grounds, taking their pre-booked 45-minute exercise breaks.
"You can call me a prison warden," Huber laughs, then turns serious. "It was the only way, in these circumstances, that I could continue employing my staff and keep the hotel alive."
Guests, mainly well-off Thai students and business people returning from abroad, require two negative tests to gain admission – and over 60,000 baht ($1,900) for a solitary two weeks in a deluxe room. Huber is delighted that not one has so far turned positive.