Check out the new check-in: Mini bars replaced by sanitation units. Housekeeping robots. And no more buffets… how the virus will change hotels, B&Bs and villas forever
- Hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more
- There are plenty of bargains on offer at hotels and B&Bs to tempt travellers back
- But what is being put in place to keep you safe? Here’s what to expect…
Mid-rant, Basil Fawlty, the irascible hotel owner played by John Cleese in classic TV comedy Fawlty Towers, is interrupted by a guest complaining: ‘I’m not satisfied!’
To this, Fawlty — not one to take criticism lightly — raises an eyebrow and snaps: ‘Well, people like you never are, are you?’
How Fawlty would have coped with the expectations of today’s desperate holidaymakers we’ll never know — but, thankfully, real hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more.
hotel owners are working tirelessly to prepare to please guests once more. But what will you get for your cash? And what measures are being put in place to keep you safe?
It will be a case of hand sanitiser at every turn, endless cleaning, contactless payments at reception — and you can forget that complimentary welcome drink.
We could see plenty of bargains on offer at hotels and B&Bs to tempt travellers back, and the same with air fares.
But what will you get for your cash? And what measures are being put in place to keep you safe?
Here’s what to expect…
- Contactless check-ins will be the order of the day, with printed room keys and no requirement to queue to check out. Self-service machines, wiped down regularly, will be a feature of hotel lobbies everywhere. Many groups including Ruby Hotels, Citizen M and Premier Inn already have this at some properties.
- Thermal screening on arrival could be the norm. It’s already been introduced at the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum in Turkey.
- Collection cars from airports may also be phased in. Many guests will not want to use public transport. Partitions and drivers wearing PPE could become standard ‘upgrades’. At mass-market hotels in resorts in the likes of Spain and Turkey, buses with extra spacing will be brought in.
- Facial recognition is a possibility at check-in at the most high-tech hotels, plus at lifts and for room entry. It’s already done at the FlyZoo Hotel in China.
- Face masks for all guests will be provided. Accor group hotels, which includes Ibis, Sofitel and Novitel, is preparing this.
Contactless check-ins will be the order of the day, with printed room keys and no requirement to queue to check out
- Complimentary hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes will be de rigueur; another innovation coming from Accor.
- Sani-Jjanitors will roam lobbies, halls and lifts wearing face masks. Many chains including NH Hotels are already ahead on this.
- Lift rules will require that only groups who are together share lifts.
- Optional housekeeping could take off, with guests being given their own cleaning equipment; a scheme already in place at the Orania.Berlin hotel in Germany.
- Mini-bars and freebies to be replaced by sanitation units with extensive ‘Covid-19 kit’ (face masks and hand-sanitiser).
- Rooms left unoccupied for 24 hours between guests. New England-based OHMCollection plans this because studies have revealed the virus is thought to have left 90 per cent of surfaces during this time.
- Expect a lot of boasting about cleanliness, with signs everywhere proving it. Marriott group says it is using hospital-grade disinfectant, electrostatically sprayed in rooms. Meanwhile, the Four Seasons chain has created a Covid-19 advisory panel with U.S. healthcare experts John Hopkins Medicine International.
- Ozone machines to purify air between guests are expected at some five-star hotels including the Royal Lancaster in London.
Hotel occupancy levels could be restricted by the government. In Spain, hotels re-opened on May 11, with only 30 per cent occupancy
- Government restrictions on occupancy levels. For example, hotels in Spain re-opened on May 11 with occupancy limited to 30 per cent.
- Housekeeping robots could be introduced widely. They are already at L’hotel Island South in Hong Kong, which has a cleaning robot.
- Hotel staff will have temperature checks. Castello di Ugento in Puglia aims to do this twice daily.
- 24-hour FaceTime concierges could be the norm — it is being trialled at Finca Cortesin resort in Andalucia, Spain.
- No more buffets. Get ready for scheduled eating times in restaurants with tables well spaced.
Hotels could stop offering buffets and breakfast could be served like food in canteens
- Breakfasts could be served like food at canteens with social- distancing marks to keep queuing guests separated from each other.
- Private dining in rooms will be encouraged.
- Mannequins for company in bars? It sounds wacky but that’s going on in Vienna, Austria, at the cocktail bar Kleinod Prunkstück, where 30 elegantly-dressed mannequins bring some character to empty tables.
- Robot waiters are also a possibility. Singapore’s Hotel Jen Orchardgateway has been doing this since 2017. The hotel’s robots, Jeno and Jena, are 3 ft tall, have steady hands, wear uniforms, can make phone calls and operate the hotel lift. London restaurant chain The Tea Terrace started using such robots last year.
- Spas will offer plastic face shields, regular sanitation and temperature checks. Staff and guests will have to wear face masks and gloves at the very least and strict time slots to limit contact in communal changing rooms.
- Facials and massages may also be out. The Healthy Holiday Company predicts a growth in reflexology, shiatsu and reiki — which involve less contact.
- Yoga and meditation classes in rooms, perhaps via TV screens — ideas already being considered at SHA Wellness Clinic (shawellnessclinic.com) in Spain.
- Gyms will have capacity limited and machines scrupulously cleaned after each use.
- Time slots may be brought in for communal pools, while rooms with private plunge pools will come at a premium.
- More flexibility regarding free last-minute cancellations is expected to come in.
Holiday rentals of every type will have to prove they are clean to reassure customers
- Social distancing will be easier than in hotels so bookings may boom.
- Every type of holiday rental will have to prove they are clean to reassure customers.
- Hygiene standards approved by governments are expected across the globe. Singapore’s SG Clean initiative and Portugal’s Clean & Safe stamp are some of the first nationwide initiatives.
- In the UK, Premier Cottages is part of an advisory panel, along with UK Hospitality, Visit England and others, which will formulate health and safety guidelines to be circulated by the Professional Association of Self-Caterers.
- More self-catering accommodation will offer electronic key-safes and contactless check-in; already being introduced by Oliver’s Travels, which has holiday rentals in the UK and Europe.
- Chefs on call will be offered more widely because people are reluctant to eat at restaurants.
- Deep cleans will be organised between bookings, so swap-over where guests leave in the morning and others arrive in the afternoon become rarer. Mullans Bay in Northern Ireland has brought in deep cleaning between bookings, as well as a requirement for guests to drive to the door of the rental so check-in is contactless.
- To win guests away from hotels that can no longer easily offer such services, some upmarket rental chains may offer spa treatments in privacy. The Greek Villas company has already begun this.
- If hosts do not install hand-sanitiser dispensers and plastic divisions, or put plastic coverings over their own household items, some guests could be put off.
- Renting out rooms within houses will become much less popular as guests may doubt social distancing and cleanliness.