As I travel for business through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, I am noticing that hotel parking lots are starting to be fuller than the past few months. People are starting to book small meetings or groups for youth sports or weddings.
So while regulations are different in each municipality, the major hotel chains are universally letting the Business Road Warrior know that it is safe to come back. What can you expect when you get back on the road? If you visit any hotel website, they are competing on which one can be the cleanliest.
Most hotels are requiring everyone to wear a mask in the public areas. The reception area may have staff behind plexiglass and encourage you to check-in through your smartphone, which includes providing a credit card for incidentals. The baggage carts are available with sanitizer at the ready. Full service hotels still have bellmen to assist you. Mobile Keys are starting to become a regular sight at hotels, reducing the using of room keys. Larger hotels are putting guests on the same floor to allow extra cleaning on the unused floor and more time between guests. Hand sanitizer stations are ubiquitous outside elevator banks on every floor. Some hotels will limit the number of people in an elevator to four people, but I find that sign is often ignored.
Sleeping Room Experience
The first thing I noticed was the tv remote is often in a sealed bag, so you know you are the first to touch it. One innovation is taking a picture of a QR Code on the television to have the remote control added to your smartphone. It was easy to use and seemed to switch channels faster. You can still ask for extra towels and room service, but often those are left at your door after a knock by the staff. No more setting up the tray for you and waiting for a tip.
As you might have heard, eco-friendly has been replaced by disposable. Paper plates and silverware for room service, plastic cups individually wrapped in the bath room. More often than not, there is no DIY coffee makers in the room any more, but if there is expect it all to be disposable.
Eco-friendly towel and linen service is the new trend. If you are staying multiple days, do not expect your bed to be made or your towels to be refreshed. During my last 3 day stay, no staff ever entered my room. Ice makers were often not on every floor. Now some are located on one floor to allow more routine cleaning.
Common Areas and Amenities
You should expect to wear your mask. Often the seating has been removed or noticeably distant. I have seen bare convenience stores in the lobby, so best to ask before checking in and carry your favorites with you. Amenities like the gym, pool and hot tub are limited or closed altogether. Many restaurants and bars have limited hours and seating due to local restrictions, so ask if you want to stay at the hotel for a meal.
Grab and go breakfasts are included, but the buffet with bagel, cereal, yogurt, hot oatmeal or scrambled eggs are gone. Sadly, the grab and go options are very limited. An apple, a granola bar, a muffin or an individually wrapped danish. The juice dispensers are sometimes available. Sometimes you can pick the items and other times it is the same for everyone. Coffee is all to go, some even have the coffee available behind the front desk.
Meetings are happening with limits set by the local municipality. Many properties do not have any food and beverage available which means no coffee service.
My fellow Road Warriors will indeed be navigating the challenges of different rules stop by stop, but we need to be out there to help bring meetings and events back.