With the coronavirus pandemic effectively halting in the hospitality industry, hotels around the world would like nothing more than to return to normalcy once the threat of COVID-19 had subsided. However, the pandemic may kickstart changes in the industry that can alter nearly every aspect of a guest’s stay.
One of the first hotels to implement these new changes in The Four Seasons Hotel in New York City.
According to NBC News, these changes began last month when the property’s owner H. Ty Warner used the hotel to house medical professionals who did not want to risk spreading the coronavirus at home. With this move came a whole new operating procedure within the hotel.
Check-ins and check-outs are performed virtually. Before entering the hotel, guests must have their temperatures taken by one of the two nurses stationed at the hotel’s entrance. Anyone with a fever is not permitted into the hotel. Only one guest is permitted to use the elevator at a time.
Upon check-in, guests are given three separate bags for used towels, used bedding and trash. When towels and bedding need to be cleaned and when garbage needs to be removed, guests must place the bags near the room’s entrance and contact housekeeping, who will then take the bags.
Guests who wish to use the hotel’s gym must sign up for a specific time slot to continue social distancing practices.
Room service has been discontinued, and the hotel's restaurant, bar and complimentary coffee station have been closed indefinitely. Guests have access to pre-made boxed meals in an industrial refrigerator in the lobby.
Amenities such as minibars, excess hangers, excess linens and excess pillows have been removed from the rooms.
The rooms are deep-cleaned 24 hours after guests check out, though some hotels, such as the Hilton, require that a room stays vacant for three days after a medical worker checks out.
While these changes have been made to limit the risk of spreading the virus by professionals who work with infected patients, a majority of the hotel’s new safety measures may be implemented in hotels around the world for all guests.
"Here in New York we're leading the charge, but now the phone is ringing off the hook with calls from hotels from all over the place," said Dr. Robert Quigley, senior vice president of International SOS. The Four Seasons has been working with the International SOS to ensure its pandemic-era property follows health and safety guidelines as set by the CDC.
The hotel business is not the only industry proposing changes post COVID-19. Cruise lines and airlines are pitching new practices and policies to keep guests and employees safe in the event of another crisis.