Staying in managed isolation hotel in New Zealand

Our final destination is Christchurch but we were sent to an isolation hotel in Auckland. Below an overview of our stay at Grand Millennium hotel. 14 days we will never forget!

Arriving at the hotel in Auckland

We arrived at the hotel in the middle of the night. However, we were still in Copenhagen time, so for us it was daytime and no problem. A man in hazmat suit entered our bus, welcomed us to the Grand Millennium Hotel and gave us instructions on how to check in to the hotel. We came in pretty fast and got our rooms (2) and SIM (complimentary) cards so that we could receive our Covid-19 test results – we don´t have any local phone number yet. Before we went up to our rooms on the 6th floor, we were offered brown bags with snacks in case we were hungry.

Rooms at the Grand Millennium in Auckland

Room with a view

We got two identical rooms that are like this. They are spacious and next to each other so we can visit each other but also have some alone-time, which is very nice. There are 2 big and good beds, a table with 2 chairs (and a view!), bathroom with a bathtub (kids love it) and a kettle and fridge but no microwave oven.

We divided the rooms with 1 adult and 1 child. Jet lag has not been easy to get rid off so the twins needed some comforting, especially in the beginning, when waking up at odd hours in a strange place. In the middle of our stay the twins changed the rooms so that both of them got to share the room with mom/dad (not sure who was the favorite :D).

Covid-19 testing and other health checks

Blue bands

You get tested 3 times during your stay. They call your room and tell you to come to the testing room when it is your turn. More info here. We got tested day 1 and had to wait for our blue bands (which show the staff that you have tested negative) for a day.

You need to wear the blue bands and show them to the staff whenever you are outside your room. Basically, you can leave your room for these reasons: covid-test, pre-booked exercise time outside or smoking (also pre-booked).

The next 2 tests were on day 3 and 11. They use long nasal swabs and I was worried for our twins. They were used to testing (they test a lot in Denmark) but not with the long stick. And they had heard horror stories of the long nasal test from their Finnish friends (in Finland they also use those long ones). First time they were tested, we saw some smaller kids being tested. One of the kids was the one that was screaming a lot on our plane. Our twins decided that if she can handle the test, so can they 😀 Luckily the first test went fine and after that they were not too nervous about the test. I decided to think that this was a proof that they have Finnish sisu. They hated the short nasal test in Denmark (throat swab was their favorite) but suddenly in New Zealand they decided that they could overcome anything. I was a proud Finn that moment 🙂

There are also nurses coming by your room and they take your temperature and ask about any symptoms.

Food

You get to order your food by scanning with your phone and choosing from a list for each day. It is a good idea to write down your selection in case there are more than you in the room – you just receive a brown bag behind your door with the food you ordered. We did not remember what we had ordered and not everybody was happy with what they got… I would say more than 50% of the food we got was good. Sometimes we received something that was just not enough (some salads) or too spicy. We ordered some stuff from New World and UberEats (coffee for me as the instant crap really started to piss me off after one week).

Exercising

Lobby Walk
Skywalk

You need to book your exercising time by phone. In Grand Millennium, at the time we were doing our time, you needed to call at 15:00 to book for the following day. Then it was possible to book somehow reasonable slot (and not during meals, for example).

There are 2 options: Lobby Walk or Skywalk. Both are very small rounds that you can walk (one-way only) for 30 minutes. Before you can enter the area, you need to give your room number and show your blue bands to security. And while you are walking your rounds, there are several soldiers watching over you.

There are rules for exercising:

  • no running (or rigorous training) – basically only walking was ok
  • 2m social distancing
  • wear mask
  • cough / sneeze on your elbow

There is a gym (and a pool) at the hotel but those were not open to the residents. Unfortunately – I had thought it would have been possible to use the gym by booking in advance.

I bought this fitness app. It was not the easiest thing to get it streamed on TV – had to create a hotspot with a computer and then had it on TV via Chromecast. Of course, it is also possible to use a phone only but as I was training together with the twins most of the time, it was nice to have it on big TV. I do not get any credit from the app owners, so this recommendation is purely because I like the app. You can choose amongst many kinds of trainings from yoga to HIIT training and you can filter out those that require equipment. There were plenty of options for training in small place without dumbbells etc.

Laundry

At our hotel you could give 10 pieces of laundry (pair of socks = two pieces) twice during your stay. You put the laundry into a bag provided by the hotel and include a list of the items together with you info (room, telephone number etc.) We also washed some clothes ourselves in the bathtub as we did not want to open all our luggage at the hotel (most of the clothes were vacuum packed so that they took less space).

You don´t really need that much clothing options when you are sitting on your room all day long…

Small Big Gestures

Half way there – present: Pineapple lumps (highly appreciated by the twins)
Day 11 present – muffin and sparkling wine

Last but not least a thank you paragraph for the hotel and the staff.

During our stay we only met nice people. Some of them we will remember a long time – the soldier who had a loudspeaker by the lobby walk and played music to us and smiled and talked to everyone. Or the nurse who came to take our temperature and always had an extra minute to chit chat about the silliest topics.

We also received these surprises on day 7 and 11. On day 7 it was a package of pineapple lumps and a letter and on 11 a small bottle of sparkling wine and a muffin.

They may sound small gifts but they made our days. We did not expect any surprises and when you are sitting in your room, day after day, any deviation from the routine feels huge 🙂

Overview of our stay

All in all we did our 14 days without any breakdowns or tears. We decided before we landed at the hotel that it would simply be something that we just had to get over with and it worked fine for us.

It helped to have some kind of structure for the day. For us it meant doing our lobby walk in the morning after breakfast, doing our fitness training in the afternoon and seeing a film on Netflix (hotspot + chromecast trick here as well) after training.

The twins also had to do some school work every day – they read books, learned English and wrote a diary.

Hope this helps somebody, who is yet to spend 14 days at MIQ. And hope as well, that soon it is no more necessary for anyone to do this.

The procedures change all the time, also within one hotel, so it is best to read the instructions that are given to you in the beginning carefully.

6 thoughts on “Staying in managed isolation hotel in New Zealand

  1. A really interesting read – thanks for sharing. A colleague recently had to do this after returning from the UK where he was visiting his mother. He said much the same as you – everyone very helpful, got a bit boring (he at least could work from the room), but not bad really. Safe travels down to Christchurch!

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  2. A big challenge to go through hotel quarantine for two weeks with young twins. Sounds like you made the best of it and the structure definitely helped. I am glad that you have been introduced to the wonderful Kiwi world of Pineapple lumps! Try them cooled in the fridge if you like extra chewiness!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The kitchen is a temptation when we are locked down at home. I also notice we tend to let our hair grow long and messy! Covid hair and Covid waistline. Anyway, we are out and about again. Lockdown has been lifted.
        Yay!

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