Staying at a hotel will not be the same again, not for any time soon. Hoteliers across the globe are assessing how they will manage reopening – specifically how they and their guests comply with physical distancing in the workplace.
Stephen Gow, general manager of The Chester Hotel Aberdeen and The Chester Residence in Edinburgh has spelled out what the hotel guest can expect.
Easing restrictions will be subject to both statutory regulation and best practice, he says.
There will be fewer options on the menu, limits on the volume of drinks, no cash transactions, and guests may be subject to temperature testing.
It’s likely there will be limits on the number of people that can access a bar, restaurant or banqueting suite at any one time.
There may well be limits on numbers attending “mass gatherings” that prevent dinners, dances, weddings, awards ceremonies and conferences taking place. The indications are that this could go on for some time, so this may affect everyone’s Christmas and New Year events and celebrations.
Reception teams will be working behind plastic screens to ensure the safety of both staff and guests.
Reservations will have to be prepaid and credit card details left to be charged for any extras. For hotels using keys and key cards, these will be available for collection; pre-programmed, disinfected and placed in an envelope for guest collection. Many hotels will not be accepting cash payments, thereby becoming cashless.
Pre-arrival health checks
Guests will be asked to confirm that they have not exhibited any signs of Covid-19 in the previous 14 days, unfortunately if they have, we will not be able to accommodate them.
On arrival at reception, guests will be required to sanitise their hands and may also be temperature checked and if the temperature is above 38C, unfortunately, it’s likely that they will not be able to stay.
Hygiene and cleaning
Hotel housekeeping standards in four-star silver rated hotels have always been high. But new standards will undoubtedly apply. It could be that a new form of ‘clean certification’ is introduced as is already happening for example in Singapore.
Rooms will have been thoroughly cleaned according to the standards laid out by the government for non-medical accommodation but it’s likely that rooms will only be serviced if you are staying for more than two nights with additional towels will be placed in the rooms along with additional tea and coffee.
Social distancing means that rooming guests by accompanying them to their rooms won’t be possible. Until social distancing measures are relaxed, you may be directed you to your room, but not taken there.
Guests will be encouraged to order room service, contact-free breakfasts, with only a limited hot offering.
Restaurants and bars
Reopening hotel restaurants and bars will be equally challenging. Guests may only be offered bar food throughout the hotel and this will be by pre booking tables only, and there will be no walk-in bookings, in order to best manage the numbers of diners at one time. Bookings will be confirmed by credit card and tables will need to be vacated after one and a half hours.
As with arrival at reception, diners will be required to sanitise hands on arrival and may be temperature checked, with access being denied for readings above 38c or any obvious signs of Covid -19 symptoms.
Tables will be sanitised after each use and will be allocated only on a pre booked reservation. To avoid overcrowding, it’s likely that eateries will be to accept requests for a particular table. Cutlery will be sanitised before it placed on the table and all napkins and condiments will be disposable rather than in cruets or dishes to avoid them being handled by multiple people.
The bar trade is well used to ensuring responsible drinking on their premises, but there will be new incarnations of this.
Individuals are likely to be refused access if it is considered they have had too much to drink on arrival to protect staff. The atmosphere will change, wherever you go socially for the foreseeable there will be fewer tables and chairs in all bar, cafes and restaurants to observe correct social distancing.
Guests may be limited to three alcoholic drinks or a bottle of wine between two people. This is so to prevent any staff being in a situation where they have to accompany any guests whose behaviour turns rowdy after a considerable volume of alcohol.
You may find that menus will be more restrictive, with fewer dishes than normal.
This is so that kitchens can ensure that the menu can be produced in a safe manner and delivered by a limited number of team members to ensure each member of staff and each guest is kept safe.
Menus and wine lists may be browsed on websites rather than being printed.
Orders will be taken via a handheld electronic device.
In order to reduce the amount of social interaction guests may be asked to indicate when they require service, rather than staff making regular visits to a table to see if anything further is required.
In order to ensure as little contact as possible, food and drink may be delivered to a service point and guests will be asked to take their food from there to their table.