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Travel Tip Tuesday | The Future of Hotel Stays

Hotels are beginning to re-open and many have introduced new “safe stay” guidelines developed by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. The “safe stay” program is focused on enhanced practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols to meet new health and safety standards for visitors and employees. These guidelines have been developed by industry leaders including representatives from Accor, Hilton, Choice, Hyatt, Lowes, Radisson, Red Roof, Wyndham, InterContinental, Marriott, Omni, and Walt Disney in conjunction with public health experts, the CDC, and Ecolab, a global leader in cleaning and disinfecting solutions.

Hotels have always practiced rigorous standards and these new guidelines are rooted in recommendations from the CDC. The Stay Safe Guidelines can be broken down into four basic categories - employee and guest health, employee responsibilities, cleaning products and protocols, and physical distancing.

Stay Safe will institute enhanced cleaning standards throughout the hotel and include guest rooms, meeting spaces, common areas, and back-of-the-house spaces. In order to keep these areas clean, hotels will use superior cleaning products with a greater concentration of bacteria-killing ingredients in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Employees under the Stay Safe program are expected to wash their hands often in accordance with CDC guidelines, not report to work if they have a temperature or feel sick and to wear makes especially in high traffic areas like the lobby area. All employees will undergo facility sanitation protocol training with more comprehensive training for employees with frequent contact with guests including housekeeping, food and beverage, security, valet/door/bell services, and maintenance and engineering. Employees will also keep a safe distance, not share personal objects, and dry hands with disposable towels.

Cleaning areas will be done with an EPA approved disinfectant that meets CDC requirements. Public spaces and communal areas will be cleaned multiple times a day and include front desk check-ins counters, dining areas, pools, gyms, bell desks, elevators, and elevator buttons, door handles, public bathrooms, vending and ice machines, room keys, locks, arms. escalators and handrails. High touch areas in guest rooms will also be cleaned with a focus on high touch areas like TV remotes, in-room control panels, light switches, alarm clocks, luggage racks, and flooring. All linen will be washed in accordance with CDC guidelines. In the case of a presumptive case of COVID-19 the affected guest room will be removed from service and quarantined. The guest room will undergo enhanced cleaning and disinfecting using EPA approved products.

In many cases, traditional room service will be replaced by a no-contact delivery method and traditional buffets will be limited when and if they are offered. Sneeze and cough screens will be added to all food displays. Minimal items like silverware, glassware, napkins, and condiments will be placed on tables. It is predicted that Grab and Go items will become the preferred method of food delivery.

All hotel guests will be advised to practice social distancing of at least six feet when queuing and should keep away from other groups of people that they are not traveling with. Lobby furniture will be configured to promote social distancing. There will also be changes regarding housekeeping. In general, housekeeping will not enter a room unless specifically requested or approved by a guest.  Front desk staff will practice social distancing and be placed at every other work station. The use of technology to reduce direct contact with guests is being highly encouraged such as electronic check-in and electronic payment. The use of pools and beaches will be disinfected in accordance with CDC guidelines on aquatic venues.

Tours of Distinction is continuing to monitor and work with our travel partners in order to ensure the well being of our travelers. We are encouraged by the extraordinary measures our travel industry partners are taking, for example, the Hilton and Marriott chains are using ultraviolet light technology to clean rooms. These new safety procedures that set basic standards that all travel businesses will be practicing is encouraging and regains our trust to travel again.