To reassure the public it's safe to travel, Florida hotel chains are partnering with the biggest brands in cleaning

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PHOTO VIA UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT/FACEBOOK
  • Photo via Universal Orlando Resort/Facebook

There has been plenty of talk of the "new normal," and now we're starting to learn what that means for hotels. The biggest change is the renewed focus on brand-name cleanliness.

In recent weeks more than two dozen major hotel chains have announced partnerships with health organizations, universities, and cleaning product companies.

April 21 saw Marriott announce a Global Cleanliness Council that will focus on using the very latest in cleanliness information and technology to ensure hotels are as safe as possible. Chaired by Marriott International's chief global officer for global operations, Ray Bennett, the council includes multiple outside advisory members, including ones from Ecolab, Purdue University, and Cornell University.

"We are living in a new age, with COVID-19 front and center for our guests and our associates," said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International. "We want our guests to understand what we are doing today and planning for in the near future in the areas of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing."

Sorenson says it's equally important to them that their associates know the changes they're making to help safeguard employee health.

Hilton's CleanStay with Lysol includes placing a seal on the door of each suite after the room is cleaned. Also, guests can use their phones to check-in and access room keys, ensuring safe social distancing and fewer shared surfaces. - IMAGE VIA HILTON
  • Image via Hilton
  • Hilton's CleanStay with Lysol includes placing a seal on the door of each suite after the room is cleaned. Also, guests can use their phones to check-in and access room keys, ensuring safe social distancing and fewer shared surfaces.
Less than a week after Marriott's announcement, Hilton announced their own in-house cleanliness initiative, the Hilton CleanStay with Lysol. Experts from Mayo Clinic and RB, who makes Lysol and Dettol, will assist Hilton in designing upgraded cleaning protocols using hospital-grade cleaning products. Like Marriott, the partnerships at Hilton are built out of previous connections between the organizations, but now the formal program opens up the possibility for more collaboration and faster rollout of new practices.

Soon after, Hyatt announced its program, an accreditation initiative via the Global Biorisk Advisory Council that takes place at more than 900 Hyatt hotels, augmented by continued third-party auditing. By this fall, every Hyatt hotel will have at least one trained "Hygiene Manager" who will oversee employee certification and trainings, implementation of hygiene initiatives, researching and overseeing air purification initiatives, and ensuring protocols are being properly followed. Hyatt will keep in place a panel of health and disease experts that they convened at the beginning of the pandemic.
By early May, it was clear that a more uniformed approach was also needed, with the American Hotel and Lodging Association not long after announcing the SafeStay initiative. The initiative is overseen by an advisory council with representatives from two dozen hotel chains. Some of the better-known companies represented on the board, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Loews Hotels, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Best Western, Red Roof, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.

Many of the procedures within the initiative focus on responding to the current pandemic. Still, others have no mention of current CDC guidelines yet recommend the use of PPE, such as facial masks, when serving food. Buffets are discouraged, and portion controls are used to ensure food isn't exposed for too long. Glassware, napkins, condiments, and silverware aren't to be placed on guest tables until needed.

Technology that encourages direct contact with front desk staff is recommended, as is supporting contactless payments. Valet service now requires disinfecting of contact points within the vehicle, and shuttle service is to be limited where possible. Tools and equipment shared by staff are to be disinfected between each shift or transfer to a new employee while guest areas are to be cleaned even more frequently with a focus on areas that have frequent contact, such as elevator buttons, ATMS, pool seating, ice machines, and door handles.
Extended Stay America has partnered with P&G Professional for their STAY Confident program. - IMAGE VIA EXTENDED STAY AMERICA
  • Image via Extended Stay America
  • Extended Stay America has partnered with P&G Professional for their STAY Confident program.
For many hotels, this was just one of many steps, with chains looking at brand name partnerships to further enhance their messaging. Radisson, who is also the AHLA Safe Stay Advisory Council, announced a partnership with quality assurance and certification company SGS. For now, Radisson Hotels are keeping the TV remotes in a protective bag after each cleaning, and removing the minibars. Disinfect boxes will be placed in meeting rooms for used stationery items. Travel-size hand sanitizer and door hangers with cleaning information will be provided in each guest room.

Loews Hotels, which operates Universal Orlando's hotels, announced an update to their Safety and Well-Being Protocols. Similar to initiatives that have been in the works for some years at other hotel brands, guests at Loews Hotels will use a smartphone app to control the TV, eliminating the need for TV remotes. Room and concierge services will be available via text messaging with no need to use the in-room telephone. Guests can request that their room not be serviced during their stay with housekeeping instead delivering fresh linens and towels via a sealed bag left outside of the door. Room Service will similarly be provided in eco-friendly single-use containers and left outside of the door via a contactless delivery.

In announcing the updated protocols, Loews noted that they will continue to "garner insight and monitor outside organization and listen to our guests, and will adjust and adapt accordingly."

It's not just hotel chains that are looking to improve health and hygiene. Singapore, Malaysia, and Aruba have all announced health and cleanliness certification initiatives. Once cruising restarts, every single ship at Norwegian Cruise Line will have a Public Health Officer onboard. Ships are retrofitted with medical-grade H13 HEPA air filters and disinfectant fogging will take place in all staterooms and public areas.

Vacation rental company Airbnb has announced a cleanliness program, designed with guidance by the former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Hosts who agree to the new cleaning protocols will be required to have a minimum 24-hour buffer between guests; in return, they'll receive "a special call-out on their listing page, so guests will know they've committed to following more rigorous cleaning and sanitization practices." Those hosts who are unable to commit to the new protocols but want to be identified by the new program will be required to have a 72-hour buffer between guests.

In the coming months, look for hotel cleanliness initiatives will become a primary marketing tool, as the industry looks to ensure the public that it is safe to travel.

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