Friday,  December 4, 2020  10:00 pm

On location at Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana (and how COVID made me a plane clapper)

On location at Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana (and how COVID made me a plane clapper)
Pax Global Media Managing Editor Michael Pihach (right)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about travel, it’s this: people still clap on planes.

Call me awful, but the whole idea of people applauding when an airplane lands always made me cringe for reasons I’ve never been able to fully explain.

It’s unclear as to when and where this polarizing tradition began (and when it became such an easy target for public shaming).

Some have argued that plane clappers, as they are sometimes affectionally referred to as, are simply rejoicing the start of a vacation (or, perhaps, the end of a long and stressful journey).

Maybe people are happy to return to their homeland, or simply saying thanks to the flight crew and pilots for securing a safe flight.

These are all legitimate reasons to express happiness and gratitude. I, too, am grateful to arrive in one piece whenever I land at my final destination.

But do we have to meet each landing moment with a rapturous round of hand clapping? It’s not like anything dramatic happened here. The plane landed. There’s no encore. Get your stuff, thank the crew, let’s move on.

As witnessed first-hand yesterday (Nov. 4) on a flight to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – the first international flight PAX has taken since March when the COVID-19 pandemic began, notably – the act of plane clapping is still alive and well.  

But I have a confession to make.

Yesterday, as travellers gleefully applauded the landing of the airplane and the start of what, for many, was their first vacation since the coronavirus crisis brought travel to a halt, something unexpected happened: I clapped too.

Yes, it’s time to come clean: I am now a card-carrying airplane clapper. 

As travel professionals know well, COVID-19 has brought the travel industry to its knees, slashing workforces, shuttering businesses and downsizing operations in the face of unprecedented and very serious challenges.  

Any effort to revive travel in a safe and responsible way, whether that be through collective mask wearing (as seen by cooperative passengers on yesterday’s American Airlines flight), social distancing measures at airports, or the world-class sanitization procedures that have been introduced at resorts to restore consumer confidence, is worth applauding for.

The fact that people are starting to travel again, and trusting the systems put in place, is worth applauding for.

The travel industry’s recovery depends on travellers (and travel advisors) as they gradually begin to discover, and trust, the measures that have been put in place for safe and healthy travel during, and after, the pandemic.

This is why PAX is currently on location at Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, which, on Thursday (Nov. 5), is officially celebrating its reopening with a socially-distanced ribbon cutting ceremony (watch our Facebook page and social media channels for live coverage).

The lobby of Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana. (Supplied)

We’re here to get a closer look at how travel – resort life, in particular – has (or hasn’t) changed since the pandemic began.

As Canada’s leading travel industry news outlet, we felt it was important to get here – on the ground and on location – to see and experience travel as it presents itself in today’s new world.  

Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana also, notably, just completed a $36 million-dollar-plus renovation, adding 90 rooms, bringing the resort total to 639.

There are new restaurants and bars and two new pools – a 52-metre-long Olympic-sized pool to compliment the lazy river with a swim-up bar and a connected infinity pool, for one.

The Preferred Club Infinity Pool at Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana. (Supplied)

We’ll be bringing you updates and details about these luxurious new features as well.

While our assignment is just getting started, we can tell you this: the 700-plus yards of palm-studded white sand that Secrets sits on is still here (and still gorgeous, ps) and the property’s service and attention to detail truly sings.

Save for a few health and safety modifications, I’d go as far as saying that vacations, as we once knew them, are back and better than ever.

Can we get a round of applause for that?

PAX is reporting on location from Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana in Dominican Republic all week. Stay tuned for more! 


Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!

Indicator...