The hotel sector around the world has been hit by reduced foot traffic as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, with lockdown restrictions hoped to be relaxed in the coming months, UK hotels are gearing up to welcome back guests while keeping them safe.
Though international travel might be on hold for a little while longer, it is thought that UK staycations will see a boom. In fact, new data reveals that around 90 percent of Britons are gearing up for a staycation.In a bid to maximise safety for both staff and guests, a number of hotels are already testing out new strategies.
“We want to make our guests have memorable experiences particularly after everyone has been quite isolated for so long,” Sally Beck, the general manager at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel told Express.co.uk.
“We know that this is going to be one of the first times for many people in getting away for quite some time.
“It’s going to mean a lot for them and their families, so we want to ensure we deliver a truly memorable stay for them. “
The central London hotel, which is just a stone’s throw from Hyde Park, is keen to open its doors as soon as possible and hopes to attract customers by ensuring flexible bookings.
“Guests will have concerns when booking, so we want to take any concerns away by ensuring full flexibility when our guests book making it easy for them to cancel or amendment without any charge or penalty.”
Similarly, Dunalastair Hotel Suites, nestled in the Scottish Highlands, has not let standards slip, despite having to temporarily close its door amid the pandemic.
“We have dedicated our time to maintaining the fabric and high standards of our hotel during the lockdown as if it is business as usual,” CEO Nassar Khalil told Express.co.uk.
“We have not only taken this time to review every aspect of our hotel to continuously improve our proposition when the hotel reopens, but we have also been reviewing our menus, training, technology and much more so that when our guests return, they will once again be welcome to a brand new hotel with ever-evolving standards and improved and value-driven service.”
Across the board, hotels are enhancing housekeeping and cleaning measures and smoothing out any creases in the new framework prior to reopening.
However, some hotels have been able to stay open during the lockdown, giving them plenty of practice in implementing new strategies. Sunborn’s yacht Hotel in London has stayed open to provide logistical support to NHS and key workers, including those working at the Nightingale hospital.
Francisco Ventura, general manager at the hotel, spoke to Express.co.uk about how they have been able to ensure the wellbeing of guests and staff during this time.
“Luckily for us, the hotel has stayed open during this period as our maintenance department has worked on a very strict schedule to keep all facilities up to standard for a full opening, and making improvements were required,” he said.
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As well, a dedicated in-house cleaning team has been deployed to provide around the clock disinfecting and cleaning of all surfaces in the hotel, and hand sanitation stations have been installed every few metres to ensure both Sunborn’s staff and the visiting NHS workers are kept safe.”
Along with traditional cleaning methods, hotels are now experimenting with technology to ensure the safest experience.
The Royal Lancaster has been using some methods for quite some time and hopes to further boost these measures.
Ms Beck explains: “We were working with ozone machines being used in each guest room prior to closing and will continue working with the latest advice and equipment available.”
What’s more, Royal Lancaster has looked at ways outside of the hotel’s walls in which it can keep visitors safe.
“We are also creating exciting packages like our ‘Get ready to get out’ package and making the most of having carparks in our hotels,” Ms Beck continues.
“This will ensure that our guests can arrive in the comfort of their cars to ensure safe distancing.”
In Scotland, despite the lockdown, Mr Khalil says that the Dunalastair Hotel Suites, part of the Rogue City Hotels Collection, has already received a positive nod that guests are looking to return as soon as it is safe to do so.
“We have already received an encouraging number of queries and significant support and goodwill from former guests who cannot wait for the hotel to reopen,” he said.
In the meantime, staff have been working on trialling a range of new features.
“We have dedicated our time to maintaining the fabric and high standards of our hotel during the lockdown as if it is business as usual,” he continued.
“We have not only taken this time to review every aspect of our hotel to continuously improve our proposition when the hotel reopens, but we have also been reviewing our menus, training, technology and much more so that when our guests return, they will once again be welcome to a brand new hotel with ever-evolving standards and improved and value-driven services.
“We are also deploying a number of additional enhancements for the safety and wellbeing of our staff and the comfort of our guests.
“These measures include the provision of personal guest hand sanitisers in every suite, reducing check-in time from our signature 90 seconds to 60 seconds per guest, creating an express check out facility, our buffet breakfast stations will be served by waiting staff, clear distancing measures will become the norm in our lounge and restaurants, all of our spacious suites will be naturally ventilated, amongst other features.”Though the future is a positive one, it has been a difficult time for the industry, and hoteliers are keen to do all they can do instil confidence in their guests and employees.
“We are very lucky to be one of the very few privately owned hotels and have great owners who care about our business and our team for the long term,” said the Royal Lancaster’s general manager.
“We have been able to be flexible with all of our clients that need to cancel and move their bookings during lockdown and social distancing protocols.
“The Hospitality industry has been hard hit by this pandemic, but we will be back and will all rise again, we want the British public to be comfortable and to come back and start having fun again with us in our bars and restaurants and our hotels.”
Similarly, fellow London lodging Sunborn Yacht Hotel shares this positive outlook.
“I imagine the next year will be very difficult for the hospitality industry,” says Francisco.
“A few companies will struggle to keep open and for others, it will mean a lot of changes to the business, but I believe we will come out the other side of this, and the UK hospitality industry will once again flourish…as always we will look forward to welcoming people back to London and to Sunborn London!”
In the Highlands, Rouge City Hotels has been grateful for the government furlough scheme which has supported its staff – many of whom have volunteered to help the vulnerable and NHS during the pandemic.
The hotel also has big plans for the future, and remains positive COVID-19 will not be the end. “We are launching two new hotels in 2021. The Wellington in Glasgow and The Hobson in Cambridge and are on track with the hotel openings,” says Mr Khalil.
“We believe in our country’s quick recovery and therefore have done all we can to keep the business secure and maintained.”
Published at Sun, 10 May 2020 03:01:00 +0000