In China, luxury hotels are offering babysitting services to stressed out parents working from home

Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNNUpdated 31st March 2022
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(CNN) — Though people in many parts of the world are heading back to the office and kids have returned to school, lockdowns continue across China as the country struggles to contain several Covid-19 outbreaks in line with its zero-Covid policy.
This of course leaves parents facing those all-too-familiar challenges many of us dealt with throughout the pandemic -- staying on top of work while managing online schooling for the kids.
Several luxury hotels in Chinese cities have stepped up to offer a solution: Studycations.
The most high-profile of the pack is the Mandarin Oriental Pudong in Shanghai, which has introduced an RMB5,900 ($926) per week Studycation Package.
The famed luxury hotel will accept students aged seven to 16, from Monday to Friday. The rate includes three meals per day and a butler who will supervise the online schooling.
"After the Shanghai municipal government issued its new policy that all students would have to stay home for online schooling starting from March 12 due to the recent Omicron outbreak, we have been witnessing the responses from our society and understood how difficult it was for the parents who had to juggle between their work and kids," Cecilia Yang, director of communications at Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, tells CNN Travel.
"During the past two years we already promoted 'staycation' and 'workation' package ideas when people were no longer able to travel freely like before...this time, why not something for the kids?"
The problem with dropping your kids off to spend the day in a luxury hotel? They probably won't want to come home.
The problem with dropping your kids off to spend the day in a luxury hotel? They probably won't want to come home.
Mandarin Oriental Pudong Shanghai
Hotel staff say children can benefit from the quiet environment and supervision during e-learning hours.
Since launching the promotion on March 16, more than 10 packages have been sold. The first batch of studycation guests checked in on Monday, March 21, says Yang.
"The feedback from both parents and kids are so far very positive. We saw numerous social media postings from the families! And those kids even call themselves 'little fans' after staying with us for five days," she adds.
An adult must be present for a child to stay overnight. Otherwise, the parent can drop off the child every day after 7 a.m. and pick them up before 8 p.m.
If the parents decide to join their children for the studycation, they can take a day off and enjoy the spa at a discount.

Golf lessons and IT support

Several luxury hotels in the city of Nanjing are offering similar packages.
Purple Palace Nanjing, in the suburban Zijin Mountain area, offers help with homework and added activities like golf class or a traditional rice dough figurine sculpting class -- in case the weather isn't ideal for golfing.
The hotel's spokesperson was quoted by a provincial newspaper as saying that they have welcomed a 13-year-old who enjoyed the experience so much that the parents called to extend the half-day experience to an overnight stay.
Meanwhile, high-end hotel Suning Universal Hotel, in downtown Nanjing, is also reportedly offering to babysit and tutor kids. A screenshot of a post widely shared on Wechat, China's popular social media platform, promotes the hotel's one-kid, one-room service.
"Parents don't have to worry about (their children) while they are at work. Hotels can boost their income. In this special time, the quality of a hotel doesn't depend only on online ratings, but also school ratings," says the post.
"An IT team is there to ensure a smooth internet connection. Our hotel room staff supervise when the child is doing homework. Our human resources staff help follow up on the progress of the schoolwork. The F&B team will ensure timely feeding. A security team will ensure the safe isolation of the child.
"After the schoolwork is done, there is also a concierge team who would take the child out for some exercise. There also is the marketing team who will be in charge of filming videos when the schoolwork is due."
The post has gone viral on various social media platforms in China since it was first shared last week.
The hotel's spokesperson confirmed to local media that the service runs daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is priced at RMB350 ($55) per day.

The setbacks

The responses to the studycation packages have been polarized.
Some local news commentaries point out that for the hotel industry to survive in the pandemic, they must be creative -- as long as they aren't breaking the law.
Others question whether hotel staff are qualified to be trustworthy babysitters.
While some parents have already booked the service for the children, many Weibo users question the practicality of it.
"Would the hotel internet connection ever be as quick as the connection at home?" one user asks.
Others lament the high price tag that comes with the service.