As areas across the country begin to open up amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels are preparing for a future of travel that will likely look much different with enhanced health and safety protocols and social distancing measures. Leading hotel brands have rolled out enhanced hygiene protocols, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has created industry-wide hotel cleaning standards, and hotel owners and operators have launched their own initiatives to keep guests and staff safe as they prepare to welcome back travelers. Below are some of the steps these owners and operators have taken.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This list is being updated as new initiatives are launched. Read about cleaning programs launched by hotel brands here.
On May 20, hotel management company Aimbridge Hospitality announced a new proprietary training program, AIMClean, which the company developed internally along with outside experts, including Ecolab. Rooted in CDC guidance, AIMClean aligns with industry and brand protocols and complements the industry’s best practices in health and safety. The training program takes employees through a certification process focusing on three areas: people, giving housekeeping leadership and staff a greater understanding of the virus and the skills to protect themselves, guests, and their families and homes; product, through a partnership with EcoLab, bringing to light EPA-approved products and supplies that ensure the best product selection for each area of the hotel; and procedures, a guide for proper cleaning and sanitizing all areas of the hotel.
On July 24, Honolulu-headquartered Aqua-Aston Hospitality announced its NEXT LEVEL program of cleaning and service protocols at its more than 30 managed hotels and resorts.
“As our guests begin planning their next vacations, we are prepared to welcome them to Hawaii with aloha and our NEXT LEVEL program. The program was created according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and in collaboration with industry-leading cleaning product companies, and it elevates our cleaning and disinfection approach with hospital-grade products and stringent cleaning protocols. From check-in to check-out, we want our guests, their families, and friends to feel comfortable and confident about the cleanliness of their accommodations,” said Lesli Reynolds, SVP of operations.
The program includes designated NEXT LEVEL CLEAN Champions at each of the company’s managed hotels and resorts. These champions are leading the implementation of new procedures, including using electrostatic sprayers to apply CDC-approved cleaning agents; sanitizing and sealing guestrooms; contactless housekeeping and maintenance services; a flexible reservation policy; amenity kits for all guests that include face masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes; social distancing signage and indicators throughout the property, including a protective Plexiglas screen at key points of service; allowing a minimum of 24-hours for guestroom cleaning between check-ins; conducting daily health screenings and temperature checks for associates prior to each shift; and providing PPE and enhanced safety training to associates.
The Breakers Palm Beach
The Breakers Palm Beach reopened on May 22, and it has updated its Health & Safety Precautions to comply with guidelines and recommendations from the CDC, the WHO, and the Florida and Palm Beach County Departments of Health. The property has opened many of its amenities and services including: two membership clubhouses; pool, beach, and bungalow services with limited capacity; spa operations for nail care and hair care; its fitness center; leisure sports; shopping outlets; and most of its dining outlets. Measures and regulations at these outlets will be continually modified as needed based on public health guidelines.
Columbia Hospitality, a hospitality management and consulting company, launched Columbia Clean on May 20. Developed with Ecolab, Columbia Clean is rolling out across Columbia Hospitality–managed properties in seven states. Hotels will use Ecolab products and training and procedures recommended by Ecolab and the CDC; increase the frequency and intensity of cleaning; implement physical-distancing layouts, markers, and signage; declutter paper and other amenities and replace them with digital options or provide upon request; add sanitizing stations at primary entrances and high-traffic locations; and implement cleaning technologies like electrostatic sprayers and UV light, among other measures. Columbia Clean Teams will be trained on health, hygiene, safety, and sanitization standards and will be responsible for upholding them.
Crane’s Beach House Boutique Hotel & Luxury Villas
On May 11, Crane’s Beach House Boutique Hotels & Luxury Villas welcomed guests back to Delray Beach, Fla., to “Stay Safely.” The program offers safety kits, which include disposable face masks, one pair of single-use gloves, five hand sanitizer packets, and antiseptic wipes. The property has also implemented safeguards like contactless employee and guest relations, remote check-in and check-out, and entry-free amenity deliveries to keep both guests and employees safe.
On May 15, First Hospitality announced its Cleanliness First Plan, which was developed with Ecolab, to provide a safe and clean environment for employees and guests. There are four core components of the Cleanliness First Plan, including: naming trained hygiene specialists at each hotel; implementing expert-guided cleaning protocols; using strategic social distancing; and continuing education for employees. The program is following guidelines and recommendations from the CDC, the WHO, and AHLA.
GF Hotels & Resorts
On July 1, GF Hotels & Resorts, a hotel ownership and management company with more than 80 upscale and midscale U.S. hotels and resorts in its portfolio, announced a company-wide initiative to focus on health, safety, efficiency, and a new standard of cleanliness. The GF Assurance Program will be used as guidance in conjunction with properties’ federal, state, and local health authorities, along with brand-specific guidelines. While rigorous cleaning procedures, personal protective equipment, and staff training are at the core of the program, it also encompasses communications, proactivity, and longevity in the future of the hospitality industry.
HEI Hotels & Resorts
On May 11, HEI Hotels & Resorts, a hospitality investment and management company, announced new standard operating procedures, alterations to hotel spaces, and the purchase of disinfecting technology and personal protective equipment (PPE) across its more than 80 independent and branded hotels. Employees will have their temperatures checked before their shifts, and the company has secured enough PPE to last through the end of the year. HEI’s training team has developed enhanced safety instruction for all associates, and managers have been instructed on how to conduct disciplined checks of safety protocols. Newly purchased electrostatic sprayers will be used routinely in public and private spaces, and housekeeping staff will place “door seals” on sanitized guestrooms. Among other measures, hotels will add partitions separating guests and staff in high touch areas, and have restructured dining and catering options to be touchless or low-touch.
Highgate has launched “Be Well. Stay Well.”—an elevated safety and cleanliness program to combat the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. The protocols include, but are not limited to, social distancing measures in all public, event, and back-of-house areas; touchless hand sanitizer stations throughout hotels; using EPA-rated hospital-grade disinfectants; requiring associates and encouraging guests to wear face masks and gloves; and providing sealed in-room safety kits with a face mask, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
Hospitality Ventures Management Group
Hospitality Ventures Management Group (HVMG), an Atlanta-based, private hotel investment, ownership, and management company, on May 13 launched its Trust & Preparedness Plan across its portfolio of 47 hotels and one convention center. Protocols range from the installation of hand sanitizer stations in all public spaces to having all associates wear masks. The plan includes additional instructions on sanitizing rooms and public spaces, and steps to take if a guest or associate tests positive for the coronavirus. To ensure compliance, HVMG is introducing a Certified Trust Ambassador at each hotel, who will be trained in up-to-date sanitation and cleaning protocols. Moving forward, HVMG plans to build a larger Trust Council with both hospitality and non-industry experts to educate its team on changing guidance and emerging technology.
Montage Palmetto Bluff
Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, S.C., is reopening its doors on June 4 with a flexible “Spirit of Now” package that allows guests to have flexible booking. Montage Palmetto Bluff has updated its Health & Safety protocol program, which follows CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of both guests and team members.
Noble House Hotels & Resorts
Noble House Hotels & Resorts has created the Stay Safe, Start Living health and safety program, which is implemented across its portfolio of 18 properties and was announced on May 28. The program is protecting the safety of guests and team members as its hotels begin reopening its doors. Stay Safe, Start Living is preventing COVID-19 through new cleaning processes, procedures, and social distancing guidelines, including: physical distancing; associate and guest health; associate protocols; enhanced cleanliness standards for public areas, fitness centers and gyms, and guest rooms; and an intensive check-out cleaning process.
PM Hotel Group
PM Hotel Group, which launched its initial cleaning and sanitation playbook in April, announced on June 23 its enhanced initiative, “PMxPM: Peace of Mind by PM Hotel Group,” which encompasses updated safety, sanitation, operational procedures, and ongoing associate trainings that incorporate the latest guidance and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, AHLA, and state, local, and federal governments. The program also includes practices for enhancing guest experiences while also upholding social distancing requirements.
Provenance Hotels announced that with new safety procedures in place and added flexibility built into the booking process, its collection would begin to welcome guests on June 19 at Villa Royale in Palm Springs, followed by Hotel Lucia in Portland, Ore., and Hotel Preston in Nashville on July 2. Provenance is following health, safety, and cleaning guidelines from local and state health organizations, AHLA, and the CDC, plus additional oversight from local medical centers like Providence Health in Portland and Vanderbilt Health’s Good to Go program in Nashville (in partnership with Nashville CVB and Ryman Hospitality). Additional health and safety measures include contactless check-in using single-use, disposable eco-friendly paper key cards, a new virtual concierge service, Paige, that enables text messaging between guests and hotel staff, digital menus, access to Well+Fit kits in lieu of fitness centers, and more.
Remington Hotels, a third-party management company, announced on May 4 new guidelines for its 87 properties that include enhanced cleaning protocols and updated training systems. In addition to collaborating with brand partners on best practices, Remington Hotels aligned with an industrial hygienist to develop a COVID-19 mitigation program for all hotels that outlines procedures in the event of a guest or associate being infected. Each Remington Hotels property is also using EPA-registered disinfectant products.
Steps each hotel is taking include increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting public spaces; converting food and beverage offerings to grab-and-go; using OpenKey as a “contactless” digital entry; and offering Pure Rooms at all properties that provide purified air, hypoallergenic environments, and allergy-friendly options, among other measures. The company is also updating its staff training program; instituting mandatory temperature checks of all associates at the beginning and throughout their shifts; mandating handwashing for employees every two hours; and requiring staff to wear gloves and masks; Remington Hotels is supplying each of its 87 hotels with the proper protective gear, including reusable masks from fellow Texas-based company, Dallas Wear Uniforms.
Rosen Hotels & Resort
Rosen Hotels & Resorts, owned and operated by independent hotelier Harris Rosen, announced on May 8 its COVID-19 Response Plan. Experts from the company’s RosenCare healthcare program partnered with a specially-appointed task force and created a plan for Rosen Hotels’ eight Orlando hotels. New procedures will be implemented at all eight properties, including enhanced processes for cleaning public and back-of-the-house areas with quick-acting hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants considered effective by the CDC. Additional new processes include: ensuring social distancing between associates and guests and limiting cross-contact of common items; increasing the number of accessible hand sanitizer dispensers; placing clear protective barriers at the front desk; using hospital-grade disinfectants designed to kill viruses when sanitizing each guestroom with electrostatic sprayers; staff temperature checks before each shift; and more.
Shelborne South Beach
In preparation for its reopening, the Shelborne South Beach announced on May 7 its new “cleaned with confidence” seal of assurance. Among other measures, the hotel has invested in equipment from EMist, an electrostatic technology company whose products are used to disinfect healthcare facilities, to clean guestrooms and public areas. After guests check out, housekeeping staff will disinfect guestrooms using the EPIX360, a handheld disinfectant sprayer that lays down an even and wraparound layer of germ-killing solution. Once completed, guestrooms will be sealed off with a “cleaned with confidence” marking that will remain in place until the next guests arrive. Public spaces, such as meeting rooms, will be disinfected using an EM360 roller cart, which can cover up to 54,000 square feet of surface in one hour. Additionally, the Shelborne South Beach will offer guests a “privacy” sign to hang on their door, which will ensure that requested services, such as the delivery of clean towels or food and beverage items, will be left at the door.
Southern Management Corporation and its Hotel Division have launched “Ever Strong”—a new cleaning and sanitization program for its four hotels: The Hotel at the University of Maryland, Cambria Hotel College Park, The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, and Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Conference Center. Based on the latest guidance from the CDC, government authorities, and in concert with the American Hospitality and Lodging Association’s Safe Stay standards, Ever Strong is built on four pillars: physical distancing, including modifying each property to maximize public spaces; cleanliness, including keeping guestrooms vacant for 48 hours after check-out, when possible; active monitoring, including evaluating and adapting procedures and protocols; and rapid response, taking immediate measures when a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified.
On May 7, Denver-based hotel owner, operator, and developer Stonebridge Companies announced that it will roll out enhanced cleaning practices at its hotels nationwide in accordance with the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s recently released Safe Stay cleaning standards. This industry-wide initiative launched by AHLA in accordance with guidance issued by public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19. All Stonebridge Companies properties will implement and adhere to AHLA’s Safe Stay Guidelines, which will include a series of best practices for the industry.
Ownership, development, and management company White Lodging announced its StayConfident program, which is built around three focus areas: contactless operations wherever possible; advanced cleaning and disinfection procedures; and individualized and social distanced services. In guestrooms, a five-point protocol includes deep cleaning and inspection, hospital-grade disinfection, removal of non-essential paper goods, enhanced laundry protocols, and limited housekeeping entry. After this protocol, guestrooms will receive a second round of disinfection on all high-touch services before being inspected, approved, and sealed for the next guest. All White Lodging associates will undergo StayConfident and any brand training and certification and will undergo COVID-19 symptom and temperature screen before each shift. In addition to CDC and other agency guidance, StayConfident was assembled with the expertise of internal subject matter experts; outside hygiene consultants; hotel and restaurant associations, including AHLA’s Safe Stay initiative; meetings and event experts; and Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton brands.