4 destinations using creative ways to keep guests safe in pandemic

  • Hotels and destinations around the US are ramping up health and safety measures as tourism and traveling take a hit from COVID-19. 
  • Some are adding changes as small as temperature checks for employees, while others are forming dedicated “SWAT” — Sanitation and Wellness Awareness Team — to clean high-touch surfaces and areas. 
  • One historic hotel in El Paso, Texas, even installed specialized HVAC-mounted ionizers. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As travelers continue to dream about vacations and ready themselves to explore, some hospitality properties and destinations have been going above and beyond their normal standards of cleanliness. 

From utilizing an ongoing renovation to install a state-of-the-art air to creating a “SWAT” team — Sanitation and Wellness Awareness Team — here’s how different hotels and getaways have been adjusting for reopening.

Hotel Paso del Norte El Paso, Texas: HVAC-mounted air cleansing ionizers

Hotel Paso del Norte in El Paso, Texas has added innovation to their hotel’s ongoing revamp by adding specialized HVAC-mounted ionizers. 

Originally built in 1912, this historic site was already undergoing a multi-million-dollar multi-year renovation with an anticipated reopening date of fall 2020. 

“In 2020, there is no amenity greater than safety,” said Carlos Sarmiento, general manager of Hotel Paso del Norte, on the property’s enhanced restoration. “Reopening during a pandemic means that offering an authentic destination experience is not enough. It’s imperative that we employ advanced safety precautions to promote health and peace of mind. Then guests will truly be able to enjoy this beautiful hotel.”

Made by Plasma Air, the HVAC system uses air purification technologies to eliminate airborne viruses safely by using the process of ionization. This has been a proven method for virus destruction, tested in simulated hospital ICUs and hotels. These HVAC systems will be installed in common areas, bars, restaurants, hallways, ballrooms, meeting rooms, spa and fitness rooms, and all guest rooms will utilize the filtration system shown to kill viruses.

10th Level Lounge Sample (1) (1)

A rendering of Hotel Paso del Norte’s interior, to be completed this fall.

Courtesy of Hotel Paso del Norte


“Saugatuck Douglas Together”: A community initiative to protect the vacation town of Saugatuck, Michigan 

The popular Midwestern lakeside towns of Saugatuck and Douglas, Michigan banded together to create a community initiative that will implement safety solutions enforcing enhanced social distancing guidelines and cleanliness practices within local businesses — all while hopefully helping to maintain the sense of fun that visitors expect to experience on vacation.

Most businesses in the area get the majority of their revenue for the entire year in the summer — which is why this collaborative aimed for achieving a successful tourist season by offering guests confidence and peace of mind while they’re visiting.

“The ArtCoast Safety and Sanitation Team has been a collaborative and grassroots effort to proactively prepare our ArtCoast Communities for reopening, to survive a pandemic, and to reimagine and reinvent their businesses in order to thrive in the new normal,” said Lauren Flanagan, a Douglas resident and leader who facilitated the safety and sanitation team’s process and recommendations for creating a safe space for guests.

The town created applications for a certified business “Seal of Approval,” which are displayed on the windows outside of each establishment. They denote the business has been properly checked and is complying with essential CDC safety practices, including working with police and local law enforcement to ensure guests and locals are wearing masks.  

Saugatuck, Michigan Art Coast Seal of Approval

The ArtCoast Safety and Sanitation Team.

Courtesy of The ArtCoast Safety and Sanitation Team


Pebble Beach Resorts, Pebble Beach, California: Stickers for employees

The Pebble Beach Resorts properties located between Monterey and Carmel, California began welcoming guests on June 15, after their first closure in the destination’s 100-plus year history. The Lodge at Pebble Beach and The Inn at Spanish Bay have both implemented a comprehensive health, safety, and social distancing program. 

In addition to extensive health and sanitation guidelines onsite, practices include temperature testing and a health survey for employees at the beginning of each shift, as temperature checks are just one small element of screening for symptoms of COVID-19 — and if the employee has symptoms or a temperature at or above 100.4°F after their screening, they will be sent home.

After they’re screened, they’ll be given a sticker to display on their uniforms, which will help visually communicate to guests that the associates that they’ve been evaluated and confirmed healthy. This sticker is a discreet but visible small colored dot — and it’s a unique color every day.

The Inn at Spanish Bay   Photo credit Pebble Beach Company

The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, California.

Courtesy of Pebble Beach Resorts


The Wigwam in Phoenix, Arizona: A “SWAT” team

The Wigwam in Phoenix, Arizona, a 440-acre historic Litchfield Park resort, has officially reopened — and is completely committed to ensuring its guests’ and associates’ health and safety. 

In addition to already boasting plenty of wide-open and socially distant spaces directly on property, The Wigwam has launched its very own “SWAT” — Sanitation and Wellness Awareness Team — with “SWAT” members visible constantly throughout all public areas to ensure all high-touch surfaces such as pool chairs, door handles, and pool gates are clean. 

By naming the task force the well-known acronym “SWAT,” which in this case stands for “Safety Wellness Awareness Team,” the property aimed to spotlight their team members that deserve special recognition for this important job. This unique role of hotel staffers is part of The Wigwam’s commitment to upholding cleanliness and social distancing guidelines under The Wigwam Cares Wellness policy. 

The SWAT is on property for two eight-hour shifts each day, and ensures there’s no surface left unclean. These team members were already staff members of The Wigwam, but were specially re-trained for this distinctive position.

SWAT employees are highly visible, and can be easily seen everywhere onsite throughout the day and night in their bright red uniforms.  

“We wanted the enhanced visibility of our team members to be a comfort to our guests and assure them that we are on top of the increased cleanliness needs,” said Katy Powers, managing director of The Wigwam. “Instead of making it an overwhelming experience, we really wanted to simplify it and make sure guests felt welcomed, protected, and safe at The Wigwam. It has been a great success based on the feedback that our guests have provided.”

LeMonds Aveda Salon   Spa Pool

The Wigwam in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Wigwam


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