Hygiene the Focus as Hotels Plan for Gradual Reopenings

MGM Resorts handwashing stations
MGM Resorts' handwashing stations. Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts

The world’s new-found obsession for hygiene and cleanliness poses a massive challenge for the hotel sector. When travel resumes across the world and hotels begin welcoming guests again, the ones that meet high standards of cleanliness will remain far more popular than the ones that struggle to convince travelers about the sanitation process within their properties. Well aware of the demands of a hygiene-conscious world, a number of hotels have already put plans in place to stay ahead of the game, as the future could well be about survival of the cleanest.

Leading the way is Marriott International, which created Marriott Global Cleanliness Council to take on the challenges posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic at the hotel level and further advance the company’s efforts in this area. The Marriott Global Cleanliness Council is focused on developing the next level of global hospitality cleanliness standards, norms and behaviors that are designed to minimize risk and enhance safety for consumers and Marriott associates alike.

Here is a look at what some other hotels are doing to ensure that guests breathe easy in an immaculate environment.

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MGM Resorts International Releases Health and Safety Plan 

MGM Resorts International has released a “Seven Point Safety Plan” for its U.S. properties as it looks to welcome guests back in a safe environment. The “Seven Point Safety Plan” is designed in consultation with medical and scientific experts to prevent the spread of virus, ensure the safety of guests and employees and rapidly respond to potential new cases.

These protocols and procedures focus on balancing the customer service guests have come to expect from MGM Resorts with the urgent need to apply knowledge about COVID-19 and adapt environments accordingly. 

In a nutshell, the Seven-Point Safety Plan includes:

  1. Screening, temperature checks and employee training
  2. Making masks mandatory and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees who have been identified by medical experts to require PPEs
  3. Implementation of the six-foot physical distancing policy, wherever feasible
  4. Handwashing and enhanced sanitization 
  5. Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Controls and Air Quality: MGM Resorts has reviewed the operation of HVAC systems to identify additional opportunities to enhance their effectiveness
  6. Incident Response Protocols: If a guest or employee tests positive for the virus, MGM Resorts will activate incident response protocols to ensure the infected individual has access to medical treatment, exposed areas are thoroughly sanitized and, when possible, those who may have come in close, prolonged contact with the infected individual are notified. 
  7. Digital Innovations: Some of the digital innovations include contactless check-ins, which would mean guests can complete the check-in process themselves through the MGM Resorts mobile app. This includes the ability to process payment, verify identification and obtain a digital room key, all through a mobile device. The hotel will also provide digital menus to view on personal mobile devices via QR code. 

Breckenridge Grand Vacations Invests in UV Disinfection Lighting

Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV), which has over 800 units under management in Breckenridge, CO, is installing disinfecting UV lights in all its properties. These lights claim to kill 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. Seeking a new solution to eliminate the human error from consistent cleaning, BGV owners, Mike Dudick and Mike Millisor, pinned hopes on the UV lighting technology, which they believe will ensure a safer stay for guests.

Currently installed at each BGV Resort, the UV lights have the ability to disinfect a room of any size. It will be used between guest stays, as well as run frequently in all common areas including lobbies, spas and gyms.

ITC Hotels Launches "WeAssure" Initiative

Reinforcing its “responsible luxury” ethos that seeks to create a better and secure world, ITC Hotels last week announced the launch of its "WeAssure" initiative. 

In a first for the hospitality industry, guests of ITC Hotels will be reassured by an accreditation by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) — the leading standards organization for sanitation, hygiene, safety and infection-control practices. ITC Hotels is also partnering with DNV GL Business Assurance to ensure stringent clinical levels of hygiene and safety. These assurance certifications will be a testament to the rigorous hygiene protocol being employed to ensure the safety of guests and associates at ITC Hotels across India.

Rosen Hotels & Resorts Announces COVID-19 Response Plan

Rosen Hotels & Resorts last week announced its COVID-19 Response Plan: Experts from the company’s RosenCare healthcare program along with a specially appointed task force created a comprehensive plan that applies specifically to the Rosen Hotels’ eight Orlando hotels. (Owner Harris Rosen created RosenCare in 1991 as his own self-funded associate healthcare program, which includes a 12,000-square-foot on-site Rosen Medical Center with a 60-member staff, including full-time doctors and nurses and various ancillary specialists to service the more than 6,000 associates and dependents on the plan.)

The Rosen task force includes Dr. Ronald Ryan, the seven-year medical director of the Rosen Medical Center, as advisor. The team of experts is led by by Jonathan Rivera, director of safety services. New procedures will include enhanced processes, such as the cleaning of guest-centric public and back-of--house private areas with quick-acting hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants considered effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In addition, there will be new social distancing norms in place, more hand sanitizer dispensers available and mandatory use of hospital-grade disinfectants, among other regulations regarding cleaning and transportation of bed and bath linens and screening of associates.

“Stay Safe with Meliá”

Spain’s Meliá Hotels International has developed a program for the gradual reopening of its hotels in the post-COVID-19 recovery phase and is working with certification company Bureau Veritas to ensure that it adheres to the most rigorous health and safety standards and stringently applies the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).

In addition to detailing the protocols and measures to optimize hygiene, the disinfection of facilities and the most important operational processes, the program also aims to prioritize a positive customer experience. To achieve this, the “Stay Safe with Meliá” program will appoint a person in each hotel who will be responsible for the “emotional wellbeing” of guests and the verification of appropriate compliance with the processes designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Deutsche Hospitality Starts Up Hotel Operations Again

Deutsche Hospitality, which brings together five hotel brands under a single umbrella, has developed a coronavirus exit strategy by drawing up and piloting various scenarios. Deutsche Hospitality’s new guidelines call for the revision and adaptation of all hygiene and disinfection measures, specific training for every member of staff and regular checks and monitoring of the measures put in place. Two key points are more frequent cleaning and disinfection and social distancing rules in public areas. Further measures include the fitting of perspex screens at reception, proactive guest information and the disinfection of room keys and cards.

Once the hotels reopen, guests will be issued face masks free of charge upon request (protective mouth and nose coverings will be mandatory for both guests and staff in all public areas). Breakfast will be served either à la carte or on a takeaway basis. There will be no morning buffet and the number of tables in the restaurants will be reduced in order to maintain a distance of five feet between tables; only guests who are sharing a hotel room will be permitted to occupy the same table. 

In addition, all public areas will be disinfected hourly, lift capacity will be limited to two persons at any one time (except for families), and sanitizer dispensers have already been installed at all main touch points. The reception staff will work on a non-contact basis and payments will be cashless wherever possible. Articles such as magazines, writing utensils, tablets, decorative cushions and blankets have been removed from rooms until further notice and surfaces in guestrooms which are occupied will be wiped down with disinfectant every day.

Pueblo Bonito Resorts Institutes CARE Pledge

With Mexico preparing for an end of quarantine on May 31, Pueblo Bonito is all set to welcome guests from June 1 with new standards of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing in place. To provide a safe environment, the hotel group has partnered with various medical specialists and PREVERISK, a global leader in hotel consulting, which is certified in preventive protocols for COVID-19 (COVID-19 Hygiene Response Certificate), disinfection, hygiene, general sanitation and food safety.

Pueblo Bonito Resorts has also instituted its own "CARE Pledge" (CARE translates to "Conscientious Service, Advanced Standards, Rigorous Sanitation, Elevated Hygiene").

The luxury resort collection has established safety and sanitary protocols for all operational areas—from arrival at the international airport in Los Cabos, to the front entrances of the resorts; in rooms, at the pools, spa and fitness areas, Quivira Golf Club and in the restaurants.

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