Gone are the days when hotels touted their luxe décor, their attentive service, and gourmet restaurants as their best amenities. In the post-coronavirus world, it’s all about hygiene and sanitation. “I think hotels that are going to be more successful need to be very explicit in communicating what they’re doing,” Gregory Miller, executive director of the Center for Responsible Travel, told Departures. “They see the future of travel that needs to embrace this new normal, which doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice, but you need to look for different things, and that’s going to be a greater attention to hygiene.”
Hotel brands both large and small are going all out to develop new cleaning standards and safety protocols. Marriott has launched the Global Cleanliness Council to advise on sanitation best practices and behaviors that reduce risk. That includes using new electrostatic sprayers with the highest level of disinfectant recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), increasing the frequency of cleaning, and placing disinfecting wipes in rooms.
Kempinski, which comprises 76 five-star hotels in 34 countries, has launched a new initiative dubbed “White Glove Service” as a response to the covid-19 pandemic. A 50-page guidebook outlines the new standards, which cover everything from the arrival of guests to food and beverage service. Employees will wear gloves and bespoke flower-printed masks by Italian uniform designer Maurel whenever interacting with guests. “The list of measures to be taken is long and very complex,” Benedikt Jaschke, Chief Quality Officer and member of Kempinski’s Management Board, said in a statement. “But appropriate and strictest hygienic standards on a very high level are key to reassuring our valued guests that a stay at any Kempinski hotel worldwide during or post coronavirus lockdown offers an environment of full safety in any respect without sacrificing our high standards of professional luxury service.”
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has gone a step further, partnering with John Hopkins Medicine International to debut a new global health and safety program called “Lead With Care.” A Covid-19 advisory board will allow the brand’s hotels to stay up-to-date on coronavirus research and risk-management responses. Each hotel will appoint a Hygiene Officer to implement the new sanitation standards, which include disinfecting rooms daily with EPA-approved products, inspecting rooms with blacklights, and hourly cleaning of public spaces, with special attention paid to high-touch surfaces and restrooms. The advisory board is also exploring the latest tools, from ozone technology for air purification to UV technology for HVAC systems.
In addition to disinfecting high-touch items like door handles, light switches, TV remotes, and thermostats, brands known for their opulent décor are giving extra care to soft items too. Prior to reopening their hotels, Belmond is disinfecting carpets, steam cleaning upholstered furniture and mattresses, and removing and deep cleaning curtains, pillows, quilts, and fabrics. Some brands, including Hilton and eco-chic 1 Hotels, will place a seal on the doors of guest rooms to indicate that they haven’t been entered since they’ve been cleaned.
Sanitation Stations for Guests & Their Luggage
Rarely seen prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, hand sanitizer has become ubiquitous at hotels. Back in February, Anantara had already started putting hand sanitizer in guest rooms along with other welcome amenities. Many other brands, including Kempinski, Adriatic Luxury Hotels, and Gurneys Resorts are also putting sanitizing stations in their public areas.
Oberoi Hotels has also designated a Hygiene and Safety Manager for each of its hotels. Already known for a high level of attentive service, the brand has started disinfecting luggage before bringing it into the hotel. Avani Hotels & Resorts, the younger sister brand of Anantara, and 1 Hotels will also disinfect luggage.
Many brands are also upgrading and introducing newly enhanced technology that allows guests to have contactless service, often starting right at check in. The Hilton Honors mobile app will allow guests at participating hotels to check in, choose their room, and access it via a digital key. Marriott’s app has similar features, and also lets guests order contactless room service.
Peninsula Hotels has introduced a new e-concierge system called PenChat that allows guests to text with hotel staff 24 hours a day via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or WeChat. CuisinArtGolf Resort & Spa, a member of Leading Hotels of the World in Anguilla, will provide contactless menus by letting guests scan a QR code to load a menu they can read on their own phones. Nayara Resorts in Costa Rica will use digital room service menus. The idea, of course, is that the fewer things guests touch, the easier it will be for them to keep their hands clean.