Hotels, motels, and resorts are never going to be the same. Here's what you can expect the next time you plan a vacation.
Hotels, motels, and resorts will be forever changed by the coronavirus pandemic. Business Insider spoke to top travel CEOs from companies like Hilton, Club Med, and Aman Resorts about how the coronavirus will change the experience of staying in a hotel. Hoteliers predict that travelers will prefer smaller, less dense hotels and outdoor amenities. Breakfast buffets could become a thing of the past, and room service could come in the form of a bag dropped outside your door. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Hotels and resorts are in a state of crisis. As of May 20, seven out of 10 hotel rooms in the US were sitting empty and thousands of hotels are completely closed, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Hotels have lost more than $25 billion in room revenue since the start of the pandemic, and 70% of hotel employees have been laid off or furloughed, per the AHLA. Empty hotels are desperately selling bonds for future discounted travel. But as US states and other countries start to reopen, hotel companies are looking ahead to make travelers feel safe and to entice them into coming back to their properties. Many major hotel brands, including Marriott — the world's biggest hotel company — Best Western, Hilton, and Hyatt Hotels, have pledged to abide by the AHLA's new Safe Stay guidelines for everything from contactless check-in to new cleaning standards and protocols. Here's what you can expect the next time you stay at a hotel or resort. People may seek out smaller, less dense lodging One major change travelers might see in hotels in the future is a change in design. "I think that people are going to migrate towards smaller properties, or perhaps migrate to properties that have larger open spaces and are not as high-volume," Mark Durliat, CEO and cofounder of Grace Bay Resorts in Turks and Caicos, recently told Business Insider's Madeline Stone. Carolyne Doyon, CEO and President of Club Med North America, told Business Insider that she believes "there will be increased demand for resort options that are less dense ... resorts that are integrated in, and respectful of, their surrounding natural environments and are spread out across larger areas." Visually, she predicts a big change to the design of resorts too, with a pivot to "low-rise buildings that blend in rather than traditional concrete high-rises." The humble motel may even make a comeback. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which has adopted the AHLA's Safe Stay protocols and owns brands like Super 8 and Days Inn, is already seeing rising demand for its properties with exterior corridors — also known as motels — per The New York Times.
Dave DeCecco, Wyndham's vice president of global communications, told Business Insider that motel owners are finding several benefits to the traditional motel design. For one, motels don't have interior hallways or large social spaces, limiting guests' exposure to other people and lowering the risk of infection. On top of that, the fact that guests can park directly outside their room further limits their exposure to strangers. Contactless check-in and temperature screenings upon arrival Hotels that didn't already have contactless check-in are now offering it via smartphone app to cut down on person-to-person interaction. At Hilton, for example, guests can check in using its Digital Key system, which opens any door a guest would normally access with a key card. That includes guest rooms, elevators, side doors, and fitness centers.
Many brands, including Club Med and Loews Hotels, have said they will screen guests' temperatures when they arrive at the hotel. No more noisy neighbors: Some hotels will only fill 50% of their rooms Contactless check-in isn't the ony way your next hotel experience may involve fewer people. The next time you stay in a hotel, the rooms on either side of yours may be empty. Some cities, counties, and hotel brands have announced they will operate at no more than 50% occupancy for the foreseeable future. At some of its resorts that are reopening, luxury resort brand Aman Resorts will "skip a key," or only make every other room available for reservation, COO Roland Fasel told Business Insider. California's San Luis Obispo County is limiting hotel and short-term lodging occupancy rates to no more than 50% — and only for essential travel — in an order by the county health officer that went into effect May 17 and will be reevaluated every two weeks. And Pensacola Beach in Florida limited its hotels to half-capacity back in March, keeping them open throughout the pandemic. No more daily housekeeping Your hotel room itself may look a bit different than it did before the pandemic. The Four Seasons will place "Lead With Care" kits in each guest room that include masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitization wipes. Best Western, which has more than 5,000 hotels worldwide, said it will remove "unnecessary items" like decorative pillows from guest rooms as part of its enhanced sanitization procedures. And Hilton is doing away with the pen, paper, and guest directory normally provided in each room unless specifically requested.
Another major change travelers can expect to see is the frequency of housekeeping. The standard that guests have come to expect in hotels is daily housekeeping unless they request their room be skipped. That's an expectation that's about to invert. For those hotels abiding by the AHLA's Stay Safe guidelines, housekeeping will no longer enter a guest's room during their stay unless specifically requested. Rooms will continue to be cleaned thoroughly after check-out. The new room service: a bag outside your door, or a server in full PPE Travelers who frequent high-end hotels may be accustomed to room service delivered straight into their room by a dapper server pushing a white tablecloth-clad cart. But in the time of coronavirus, the AHLA recommends that traditional room service be replaced with a no-contact delivery method. Gregg Fracassa, general manager at Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently told Business Insider that in-room dining service will come "in the form of a market bag left at the door." Aman Resorts said it has seen increased demand for in-room dining during the pandemic. Staff is still delivering meals into rooms — while wearing full PPE. "All in-room dining is served with food and drinks covered, and staff wear PPE [personal protective equipment] upon delivery," Fasel said. "If guests feel comfortable with us dropping the food off in their room we do so, however we can also place it on a table in the entrance." Say goodbye to the traditional hotel buffet The beloved continental breakfast buffet may be a thing of the past. Traditional buffet service should be limited and prepackaged foods and "grab and go" items should be the preferred method of food delivery, per the AHLA.
Best Western has said that some of its breakfast rooms could be closed to avoid unnecessary guest congregation, and some of its hotels may switch to a pre-plated breakfast to minimize guest contact. If a hotel does choose to offer a buffet, it should be served by an attendant wearing PPP and food displays should include sneeze and cough screens. Expect to be wearing a mask during your spa treatments That brings us to amenities: Hotels love to tout their amenities, from pools and saunas to gyms and restaurants. But during a pandemic, shared spaces where groups of people gather can be cause for unease. The good news for amenity-seekers is that AHLA guidelines allow for fitness centers, pool areas, and meeting spaces to stay open — as long as they are configured for social distancing and disinfected multiple times per day. However, some amenities will take on a different look. Luxury spa treatments will continue, but they might take place inside your hotel room rather than at the hotel spa, and your massage therapist may be wearing full PPE. At Aman Resorts, which is known for its wellness offerings, all spa therapists will wear masks, as well as gloves if the guest requests them, Fasel told Business Insider. Therapists will change their PPE between each treatment and treatment rooms will have a minimum 30-minute turnover time to ensure proper cleaning and sanitization.
Aman recommends that guests wear masks during treatments. Aman has also expanded its in-room spa services. In the spa area, only one person is allowed at a time inside shared enclosed spaces like steam rooms and saunas. These changes could also be accompanied by a growing demand for outdoor amenities. "When social distancing restrictions are lifted, we foresee our guests wanting to be outside, rather than confined indoors," David Bowd, CEO of Salt Hotels and operator of The Asbury and Asbury Ocean Club in Asbury Park, New Jersey, recently told Business Insider. "Catering to this expected demand, we'll be focusing on outdoor programming, such as outdoor movies and pool events."
Aman Resorts will expand its nature experiences, such as offering a new foraging trek combined with a kitchen garden tour and outdoor cooking class at its Amankila resort in Bali, Fasel said. Ramped-up cleaning protocols and social distancing rules Hotels have vowed to boost their cleaning procedures and train employees in proper safety protocols. Per the AHLA's Stay Safe guidelines, hotels will offer employees COVID-19 safety and protocol training and require that workers frequently wash their hands and wear proper PPE based on CDC recommendations. Common spaces like lobbies, gym equipment, pool seating, and dining surfaces, as well as other high-touch surfaces like elevator buttons and door handles, are to be disinfected multiple times per day. Many hotels have said they're installing hand sanitizing stations throughout their properties.
Marriott is rolling out new cleaning technologies, like electrostatic sprayers that use hospital-grade disinfectant to sanitize surfaces, with the help of its new Global Cleanliness Council that was created to develop enhanced health and safety guidelines for Marriott's 7,300 properties, Business Insider's Melissa Wiley reported. Per the AHLA guidelines, hotels will advise guests to practice social distancing and stay at least six feet away from people not traveling with them. Hotels will make certain areas for appropriate distancing and, where possible, encourage one-way walkways. In some cases, lobby furniture and other seating areas, such as pool chairs and cabanas, will be spaced far enough apart to promote social distancing.SEE ALSO: An empty lot on Miami's 'Billionaire Bunker' is listed for $32 million, and it shows just how valuable land is on the high-security island with its own 13-person police force DON'T MISS: Staying in a hotel will be very different post-pandemic — here are the new safety and cleaning plans and precautions being implemented by every major hotel brand Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship
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