What I found on a coronavirus-free, mask-free holiday in Jersey

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We spent last week on Jersey.  If you are interested in a corona-free, mask-free holiday with few other tourists, read on.

Historically we do long-haul holidays at Easter and October half-term and travel in Europe in Summer.  With some of our potential options off-limits, we settled – at fairly short notice – on Jersey.

Jersey is, it has to be said, one of the least rock’n’roll holiday spots in Europe.  That said, as Rhys found out in Ibiza last week, even the epicentre of rock’n’roll holidays isn’t up to much this year!  I’d been to Jersey 15 years ago and knew that it has truly stunning beaches and just about enough to keep a 9- and a 12-year old busy for a week.

Jersey is now free of coronavirus and border testing means it should stay that wayAs you can see here, there are actually two cases on the island – from a population of 100,000 – but both were picked up on arrival.  Whilst there are technically still restrictions in place on large gatherings, the only issue likely to impact you is the closure of shared changing rooms at your hotel spa.  This actually worked in our favour as our hotel let guests pre-book the entire pool for one hour slots which lets your kids be as wild as they want.

You won’t need a mask once you are out of the airport, and you’re unlikely to see anyone wearing one.  Our hotel did make restaurant staff wear them, but we never saw them in any other restaurant.  You will never see one used in a shop, by staff or customers.

Jersey coronavirus holiday

Entry restrictions to Jersey

To keep Jersey corona-free, you are obliged to take a (free) swab test on arrival.  We got our results within 24 hours.  There are no strict rules on what you need to do during the 24 hours although you are requested to keep away from busy areas.  You can also have a test done in the UK in the 72 hours before you arrive and present those results on arrival.

(Testing is done after baggage reclaim, so there is no benefit in being first off the aircraft unless you are only travelling with hand baggage.)

If you fail the test, you will be isolated by the Jersey Government at properties they have hired across the island.  This is a 14 day isolation.  You CANNOT leave the island before the 14 days is up, even if you only flew in for a weekend break.

The risky bit is this: if anyone sitting near you on the aircraft fails a test, you will be forcibly isolated for 14 days.  It isn’t clear how many rows of seating are involved, but it appears to be everyone seated within 3-4 rows of the infected passsenger.

The exact rule has not been released, but we know that – after one person on an easyJet flight failed a test – 15 of the 72 other passengers were put into isolation.  easyJet aircraft seat between 180 and 235 people when full, so it is possible that a failed test on a full plane could see almost 50 people put into isolation.

The maths is in your favour though

The Government of Jersey is assuming 1 in 7,000 passengers is positive.  The current infection rate in most of the UK is well below this so it is a conservative number.  A British Airways A319 has around 130 seats so – assuming 100 seats are occupied – there is only a 1 in 70 chance of anyone on your aircraft being infected, and even then only a 1 in 5 chance that you would be sat near enough to be isolated.

If you’re not willing to take a 1 in 350 chance of being forcibly isolated for 14 days, don’t come!

You can reduce your odds further by sitting in Club Europe, in the first couple of rows of Economy or the back couple of rows of Economy, since there will be fewer passengers sitting within 3-4 rows of you.  Row 1 is statistically the safest given the 2-2 seating in Club Europe and the lack of anyone in front of you.

Molly Burgess

Where to stay

The two most luxurious options seem to be The Atlantic, below, where we stayed:

Jersey coronavirus holiday

and Longueville Manor:

Jersey coronavirus holiday

The Atlantic is on the west coast and has sea views over the largest, emptiest expanse of beach you have possibly ever seen.  It also has exceptional sunsets as you can see above, on the beach below the hotel, and below.  Longueville Manor is on the east side and is inland.  (Given that Jersey is only five miles by nine miles, nowhere is far from anywhere of course.)

Because it’s Jersey, with the average visitor being fairly old, both hotels are fairly serious in approach.  Waiters at The Atlantic wear bow ties and the idea of ‘casual dining’ isn’t one they have come across.   Our highest meal bill was over £200 including service for four, with no desserts, only a little alcohol and the four people including a 9-year old and a 12-year old.

There is a more laid back ‘bar menu’ but with only a tiny bar it is likely you will still need to eat it in the hushed fine dining restaurant, or on the terrace if the weather is good.  This isn’t a great choice with very young children.  Room service is available but, with small rooms, not very practical.

That said, there are many other eating options within a short drive.  There is a Pizza Express in St Brelade, a seven minute drive, if your kids demand more casual fare, as well as various beach-side restaurants below the hotel.

(You need a car on Jersey, realistically, if you are there for more than a weekend although there is a smartphone app for ordering taxis.  Europcar, Hertz and Avis are in the airport but these are franchises, so don’t expect any status benefits or points.  Prices seem to be lower via the direct websites rather than the brand website, ie europcarjersey.com was cheaper than europcar.co.uk and had a wider range of vehicles.  Discount codes which normally work won’t get you far.)

Breakfast is a la carte only.  It is £22.50 if you are doing the maths on B&B vs room only rates.

The Atlantic has an indoor pool – which, as I mentioned above, you can only use by pre-booking it for an hour for free for your exclusive use – as well as an outdoor one, plus a tennis court.  These is a golf course adjacent to the hotel but I don’t know if they can get you a round.  Rooms:

Jersey coronavirus holiday

….. are on the small side but well furnished.  I’d take a sea view because the other side overlooks the car park.

The staff and service are excellent and keen to help.  When Blue Islands came over for a meeting with me, for example, they provided refreshments for free.  The only thing I found frustrating was that, because the waiting staff were wearing masks, I was interacting with the same people every day and I still had no idea at the end of the week what their faces actually looked like ….

As a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, you can book The Atlantic on World of Hyatt points for 25,000 points per night.  At present, with rates lower than usual (from £200 per night), you are better off paying cash.  We used Hotels.com because it worked out cheapest once we factored in Hotels.com Rewards credits.  You MUST create a Hotels.com account before searching for prices because The Atlantic offers a ‘secret’ additional discount for registered and logged in users.

Occupancy, midweek, was 20% when I took a look at the housekeeping rota.  It picked up at the weekends, but financially this is a disaster for them in peak season.

The only branded option is the Radisson Blu in St Helier.  This is part of the new waterfront development, a short walk from the centre of town.  If you have Radisson Rewards points it might be worth a look although a global Radisson IT issue means standard awards are not currently bookable.  Cash rates are totally bombed out – I had no trouble finding rooms in August from £120, or their top Panoramic Suite from £200.

Jersey coronavirus holiday

Jersey is not busy …..

If your kids like beaches, you should come here.  Let’s compare Bournemouth the other week:

Jersey coronavirus holiday

….. to these shots of mine from Jersey – these are three different beaches shot on three different days.  The first is the beach under The Atlantic:

Jersey coronavirus holiday

…. and Greve de Lecq on the north coast:

Jersey coronavirus holiday

…. and St Brelade’s, which is probably the most popular beach on Jersey:

Jersey coronavirus holiday

Once you’ve exhausted the beaches you are into what, I admit, are relatively tame attractions such as the Jersey Lavender Farm (decent cakes in the cafe to be fair!), Gerald Durrell’s Jersey Zoo and the Jersey War Tunnels.  The gardens of Samares Manor are impressive (and the cafe is in Amex Shop Small!) and the castle is more interesting than you’d expect with lots of modern artworks.

We also did a Jersey Seafari RIB boat trip which the kids loved and which is probably the most exciting thing you can do on Jersey.  These seem to sell out quickly and should be booked before leaving the UK.

Jersey Seafaris

The real reason to come, however, is for the beaches and for the food.  Don’t come for shopping, which is not very high end and – despite the 5% VAT – no cheaper than the UK.  It seems that Jersey can support a huge Porsche dealership for its population of 100,000 but no luxury clothes shops (de Gruchy is basically a House of Fraser clone) which is symptomatic of the demographics.

The real reason to come now is because no-one else is there.  It’s not just that the beaches are empty.  Many of the best beaches are in small coves with very limited parking and limited catering options.  In Summer you’d normally have no chance.  We never struggled to find a prime parking spot at every beach we visited.  With one exception, we also never struggled to get a restaurant table as a ‘walk in’ guest.

Atlantic Hotel Jersey sunset

Jersey Airport

I should, as this is HFP, say a little about Jersey Airport.  easyJet and British Airways are now running daily flights from London Gatwick and London Heathrow respectively.  Blue Islands is also beginning to ramp up its services from regional UK airports.  The airport works well and, usually handling 600,000 passengers per year, is very quiet.

There is an Executive Lounge which is open.  It accepts British Airways Silver and Gold cardholders and Club Europe passengers, as well as Priority Pass and other lounge club cards.  I will do a quick review in a day or so, but you shouldn’t rush to the airport early in order to visit:

Jersey coronavirus holiday

The other benefit of flying to Heathrow at present is the lack of circling.  All aircraft are landing without slot delays, meaning that flight times are laughably short.  We received our standard plastic bag containing a bottle of water, bag of crisps and bag of pretzels in Euro Traveller.  There isn’t much more I can add given how quick the trip was.

You arrive in Heathrow as a domestic passenger and so do not need to use passport control or fill in the ‘returning passenger’ paperwork.  You do need to clear customs and you collect your luggage from the international belts.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a ‘domestic’ holiday this Summer, in somewhere with no crowds, I’d recommend taking a look at Jersey.  If the weather is good and you have children who enjoy beaches – or you don’t have children and fancy a few days in a smart hotel with good food – it has a lot to offer, and you will never find it this quiet, or cheap, again in peak season.

And, once you step out of the airport, you can effectively forget about your face mask – and indeed the whole existence of coronavirus – until you head back to the airport on your return.

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Comments

  1. Nick_C says:

    “the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by the Nazis”

    The only part to be invaded by Germany.

    I do hate the way people re-write history.

    • Steve O'Hara says:

      ??

    • iamfugly says:

      Genuine question. Excuse my ignorance and feel free to correct me where I am wrong but were the Germans who invaded and occupied Jersey in part in the second world war not Germans of the German Reich, alternatively known as Nazi Germans?

      • Nick_C says:

        The people who invaded were known as Germans. There were a great many other names for them as well.

        At its peak, party membership made up about 10% of the German population. Some of the German invaders were Nazis, many of them would not have been.

        But the key point is we were at war with Germany. But some people seem to want to forget that, replacing Germany with “Nazi Germany”, as if WW2 had nothing to do with Germany or its people. We mustn’t try to airbrush out the bad things that happened in the past.

        I learned about WW2 from my parents who lived through it. I never once heard them or their friends refer to the Germans as Nazis.

        • People use ‘Nazi Germany’ in the same way they use ‘Soviet Russia’ or ‘Victorian Britain’ ie to refer to a particular moment in a country’s political history. I wouldn’t call that airbrushing! It doesn’t matter how many Germans were card-carrying Nazis, the fact is that the Nazi party was democratically elected government.

          If it bothers you so much, you might want to start with this lengthy Wikipedia article on ‘Nazi Germany’…. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Germany

          • Neil Murray says:

            Actually, not a democratically elected government at all. Democratically *appointed* under the constitution of the day, yes. But that that’s not the same thing. The NSDAP never won an election.

          • The Savage Squirrel says:

            Indeed, not democratically elected. They never obtained a majority of seats or votes although they were the largest overall party in a couple of elections.

            They were able to seize essentially total power by passing the Enabling Act with a 2/3 majority … but given they had (amongst other things) arrested or forced into hiding a large number of the other party representatives, including all 81 of the elected KPD (communist-aligned) deputies by that point, then nobody could claim they won their power democratically.

        • Nick. Your argument is just absurd. The symbols of Nazism were flown across the Channel Islands during the war.

          • Nick_C says:

            Ridicule it all you like Josh. They were the symbols of Germany.

            No other country (Italy, Japan) gets away with having its name disassociated with the horrors of WW2 in this way.

          • Let’s be frank – I don’t think anyone can claim that Germans or Germany have ever airbrushed over their history or asked anyone else to. They even have a specific word for wrestling with their problematic past – “Vergangenheitsbewältigung”!

            Besides which, the word ‘Germany’ is right there in the phrase ‘Nazi Germany’ – nobody is pretending it isn’t!

          • The Savage Squirrel says:

            Nick_C that’s utterly ridiculous. I can’t think of a country that puts more effort into acknowledging its difficult history – you can’t swing a cat in Berlin without hitting a memorial or commemoration of the worst aspects of that period. Despite the passage of time I also can’t think of any country whose name is more instantly and centrally associated with its WW2 history or with genocide (although Rwanda may come close on that front).

          • Doug M says:

            Why does it have to be Nazi Germany? No one had answered Nick’s point about how Japan or Italy are described in the same historical period. I visit Berlin probably twice a year, always do at least one tour. Very noticeable that over the last 6 to 7 years the term has morphed from Germany through Nazi Germany to the Nazis. Should point out most of these guides are not German, but Brits, Yanks, Kiwis. It’s crossed my mind that others feel greater need for disassociation than Germans do.

          • Rui N. says:

            People quite often call it Fascist Italy or Imperial Japan to refer to those countries during WWII, so Nick is actually wrong on that point as well.

          • Doug M says:

            I don’t think you see Italy and Japan described like that with anything like the frequency you see ‘Nazi Germany’.

          • Lady London says:

            I travel to a part of Northern Italy which till relatively recently had a Fascist-decorated cafe at the town rail station (since closed). I dont know Italian history but asked about the cafe when sitting wirh an elderly lady, a very young couple and a 30-35 year old bloke in a railway carriage from that station. After some noncommittal remarks about the cafe from them which seemed remarkably tolerant I asked what had life in the area been like under the Fascists in the war. All three generations’ composure cracked and it was clear it was very painful. I apologised and changed the subject.

            The others were not from the same family. The hurt at remembering these historical events in their community was still there. Even in the young couple who probably were born 50 years after the war.

            Germans nowadays say the Naxis were different people but it’s hard to forget.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          [email protected] Sorry to throw a spanner in the works but my farther was a Marine Commando when he went on the beaches at Normandy. What kept him awake at night (shortly after the war)
          Was the words from “his” Commanding Officer was “if anyone surrenders shoot them”
          He personally shot hundreds who was sat down in a group with a white flag in the middle
          Ok my farther might have exaggerated the 100s bit who knows (that’s what he told me, they had no guns most looked like 15/16 year olds
          Not nice i know no British officers put on trial for “War Crimes” the spoils of winning the war

          • Nick_C says:

            That must have been absolutely terrible for him Chris. I can well believe that war crimes happened on both sides, and as I said earlier, we mustn’t try to airbrush out the bad things that happened in the past.

          • Blue Mountains says:

            The Germans wreaked havoc on Greece but it was the Greeks who sided with them (and helped with betraying their own people for a price) that was the most painful part. Even though Germans committed unspeakable attrocities, most people are not aware of Britain’s involvement in the ensuing civil war and how they armed both sides. Again, those Greeks who had sided with the Germans, were more than happy to oblige and help them (again for a price). This part of history is certainly very well brushed under the carpet…

  2. Neil Murray says:

    Worth pointing out that the airport has a duty-free shop and you actually qualify for duty-free goods because Jersey isn’t part of the EU. So export-strength gin an £12 or so a bottle.
    Enjoyed this write-up immensely because my wife and I went to Jersey for a long weekend last year on a points run. Great fun for a long weekend: a week might drag though, because you’ve listed pretty much the main attractions. Did the zoo and the underground hospital. Would only do the zoo again (and again) because it is brilliant and I’ve been a Durrell fan since childhood.
    The fish and seafood on the island is brilliant, by the way.

    • My (recently departed) grandfather was quite a famous antiquarian and horologist (in those circles!) and used to go to Jersey to buy tax free watches. He was very canny financially and loved the latest technology as well as antiques.

      • Lady London says:

        Was he the one on Antiques Roadshow?

      • Chris Heyes says:

        [email protected] wished I’d met him OOOoo i used to have a large Collection of Doulton pre-1900s
        mainly Hannah Barlow, Florence Barlow loads other famous “Artists” appeared on a program called
        “Secret Escapes” a good few years ago I’m sure he would have known all about the “Barlow Sisters”
        My main Collection went to auction to a Auctioneer called Adam Partridge who i knew quite well (he was starting out on his own after working for a auction house in Knutsford so as i was downsizing and after Secret Dealers lots of risks leaving a lot of Antiques in my empty house when we was at flat i let him auction them off for me beneficial to both of us
        I also knew “The Duke” before he fronted Bargain Hunt, i was always upstairs in Manchester Auction house (Doulton) he was always downstairs seeking out nice pieces of Furniture
        He was a naughty boy then, but i won’t go into details his wife pulled him round lol

  3. Ben C says:

    Well I’m probably going to take the risk and use my BA voucher – and consider it a dual holiday and Tier Point run.

    Have wanted to visit Jersey for a while now, especially as some family said they enjoyed time there.

  4. Just got round to reading this and it looks fantastic. OH would love the war tunnels. 4 sectors on BA from MAN would help with status as well.

  5. Fenny says:

    If, like me, you have Jersey ancestry (Romerils and De Gruchys), the Jersey Archives are a treasure trove of amazing stuff. I got a copy of my g-g-g-uncle’s will (he was a silversmith and watchmaker in St Hellier), but couldn’t find my g-g-g-gf’s grave or reference to his death anywhere.

    I stayed in a hotel about 15 minutes walk out of the centre of St Helier and travelled all over the island on the excellent buses. There’s a useful app where you type in the number of the bus stop you are at and it tells you when the next bus will be along (it may be a while in some of the more remote inland places). If you’re fit, just hire a bike. Nowhere is very far from anywhere.

  6. “The Government of Jersey is assuming 1 in 7,000 passengers is positive”

    The trouble is that the ONS estimates that 1 in 2,000 in the UK are positive !

    https://twitter.com/ONS/status/1286617704376479745

    • Charlieface says:

      Take it with a pinch of salt. Bear in mind that those figures come from testing asymptomatic people, and the test has a 1-2% false positive rate

    • S Wise says:

      We are actually working from the ratio of 1:1000, the 1:7000 figure was revised recently.

  7. the_real_a says:

    There were quite a few car rental places that offered a “package” that included a tank of fuel that did not need to be replenished. The package offered at the desk of Raddison Blu was the cheapest by far even considering online booking. They brought the car from the airport to the hotel for you.

  8. Andrew says:

    I have read Head for Points for many, many years and I have some quite incredible issues with this post, especially at a time when many people are facing uncertainty about their jobs. A quick disclaimer, I’m not from Jersey and I’ve only been there twice – for a holiday as a child in the early 80s and again a decade ago during the recession when it was all we could afford. Pizza Express is, and always will be, a treat in my family and not something for when ‘the kids demand more casual fare’. I’m also quite incredulous at the disparaging way in which Jersey’s attractions and shopping are treated. And as for travel around the island, there’s a perfectly adequate and cost-effective bus service. I’ve always treated travel, and the luxury my family and myself have enjoyed by ‘bending the rules’ as espoused by HfP, as an immense privilege. I suggest, Rob, you check yours.

    • Regrettably also agreed in large part, particularly regarding the bus service which from what I remember is excellent.

      I get a vague sense of “looking down the nose” at the destination from this article, which is not what I’ve come to expect from HfP.

      While we’re doing mild snobbery, I might comment on the use of “corona” rather than “COVID” as inaccurate shorthand for the disease with which we’ve become so familiar…

    • Rob can present his family holiday however he pleases. The lack of shock in a £200 bill for half a meal for 2 adults and 2 children, and the kinda-complaint that the highest end store on the island is a House of Fraser clone, just adds a bit of colour to the retired investment banker existence. 🙂

      I’m guessing buses aren’t very practical for a family of four and all their gubbins, compared to renting a car.

      Jersey sounds nice in a “Bergerac” kind of way, although I’d be looking for more budget accommodation and food options than shown here… and possibly a ferry ticket not a plane ticket?

      • S Wise says:

        We do have a Premier Inn and budget guest houses as well as cheaper hotels.

        We have a many U.K. chains here as far as shopping goes.
        We have two department stores not just the one but it is not exactly like Knightsbridge!
        We do have some boutique shops for designer clothes where you can buy socks for hundreds of pounds if you really desire…

        Buses do offer good connections for the airport into St. Helier. We run the large double deckers for airport travellers.
        Buses are fine for a family of four visiting tourist attractions but services may only run every half hour on some routes, so plan your visits.

        Condor ferries run our sea connections from the
        South coast of the U.K.
        The prices range depending on time of year to what car you bring.

  9. Sussex bantam says:

    Crikey – a relatively tame article about Jersey has attracted a discussion on the correct terminology for countries involved in World Wars and whether Pizza Express should be considered “fine dining” or “casual dining” (to use the industry classifications)

    I can’t wait until we have some Tesco deals to discuss…

    • Chris Heyes says:

      Sussex bantam @ Shopper Points have Tesco Deals on, Well they would have if only there were any lol

  10. Only sad thing is to ignore the really rather good bus service on the island. I was surprised how easy it was to use (contactless payment before any UK city except London!) and how you can get pretty much anywhere. No need to hire a car or use a taxi, particularly if you combine bus with a short hike.

    • mr_jetlag says:

      +1 on the bus. Even as a business traveler they were more reliable than calling for a cab for a short ride to the airport.

      • S Wise says:

        You currently do have to wear a mask on our buses.
        As you do for your flight over and throughout the Airport.

        Despite the indication of no masks being worn in Jersey, some local folk are opting to wear them for shopping.

  11. S Wise says:

    Jersey is working to the 1:1000 ratio of CoronaVirus cases brought into ports – not 1:7000 as stated in the article. This makes a slight difference to your personal risk assessment and possibly the chances of being caught up in isolation.

    Current active cases on Island of covid-19 is 4. (As at 27th July).
    We have had 7 travellers arrive with it in total and they have been tested and isolated accordingly most having now recovered.

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