Hotels in Britain are likely to be able to open from July 4 with the easing of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions by the Government – and many overseas properties are already welcoming guests.
But how will your experience shape up with enhanced hygiene protocols and social distancing? And will you even want to sleep in a room where a stranger stayed the night before?
Brands and chains around the world are working hard to ramp up their hotel cleaning programmes to reassure guests and boost public confidence in booking a stay.
We’ve teamed up with the travel gurus at The Points Guy to look at the future of hotel stays in the post-civid “new normal”.
Some countries, such as Portugal, Singapore and Malaysia, have begun putting formal clean certification in place, with official audits of properties to verify compliance for the now-required standards of cleanliness.
Hotels that can say they are regulated, checked and approved by the authorities for clean and safe practices may be more appealing to guests.
The first line of defence is at the entrance, with no-contact automatic sliding doors in use or staff wearing PPE on hand to open and close non-auto doors. Guests could be screened for temperature checks as they enter.
Front-desk employees may also have PPE to complete check-in and check-out, signalling immediately that the hotel is taking the safety of its employees and its guests seriously.
Payments may be limited to the card listed on the original online reservation, so cards don’t need to be handed over and handled by multiple people. Expect touch-free hand sanitiser stations throughout properties, and we could see disinfectant wipes at lifts so guests can wipe the buttons.
We’ll likely see hotels roll out contact-less initiatives, such as mobile check-in and digital room keys used via smartphone apps.
There are some of these already in place, so expect introduction of this to be accelerated.
Room to breathe
Ozone generators to remove smells from rooms and kill micro-organisms have been in many hotels for years and could now be displayed on cleanliness checklists (which would boost customer confidence that the room is spotless).
Another option could be the use of long-term anti-viral and anti-microbial products, such as light-activated “self-disinfecting” ACT CleanCoat, which has been tested at hotels in Denmark and on some cruise ships.
Housekeeping in the “new normal” could include placing a seal on the door to indicate it has been cleaned and has been vacant since.
Amenity to that
It won’t help plastic usage, but there could be a return to the use of single- use toiletries instead of multi-use bottles to minimise the spread of germs between guests.
Don’t expect to see in-room treats, such as cheese and chocolate plates or a complimentary bottle of wine, returning soon.
The priority will be on cleanliness, not extravagance, so there may be a reduction in decorative pillows, bed runners, minibar stocks and even paper products, such as magazines and pamphlets.
Food for thought
Social-distancing measures will inevitably apply at hotel restaurants and bars for a while, so guests may well use room service in higher numbers.
That will require minimal interaction from PPE-wearing delivery staff and perhaps more food arriving in wrapping. Grab-and-go stations, where you can pick up complimentary fruit or a biscuit, will probably not be stocked for several months and those pile-it-high buffets may be a no-no for some time too.
Access all areas
Gyms, spas are other busy public areas will have obvious changes, with mask-wearing attendants in the fitness centre wiping down and disinfecting equipment between use.
And we’ll likely see a reduction or elimination of free amenities such as headphones and fruit.
In the spa, staff will also have to wear PPE and there’s a good chance the treatment menu will be trimmed to minimise contact.
Finally, for hotels in sunshine destinations with swimming pools and beach access, we’ll have social-distancing measures with chairs and sunloungers spaced further apart.
Changes to service would mean attendants wearing masks and gloves, and being less hands-on about setting up chairs and sunloungers and delivering your drinks.
So form an orderly, socially distanced queue at the pool or beach bar, please. And wash your hands.