Hygiene Officers and Hand Sanitizer: Inside the Changes to Luxury Hospitality

The coronavirus pandemic brought the travel industry to a screeching halt, like so many other industries. As travelers begin to tiptoe back out into the world in lockstep with the reopening of other types of businesses (not to mention cities, states, and countries), there are some notable changes being made with a focus on health and safety. Top of mind for travelers right now is staying well while they explore new places or head off to a favorite getaway spot. Luxury hotels and hospitality brands have been proactive about making modifications to the way they do business, and, in the case of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, adding key staff members. Four Seasons announced it is appointing a Hygiene Officer to each of its properties; This individual will be “focused on implementing enhancements to already stringent procedures,” said the company in a release. It's all part of Four Seasons’ new global Lead With Care program in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine International. “Within this new environment, our singular goal is to provide guests, residents, and employees with the confidence and assurance that their health and safety is our first priority,” said John Davison, president and chief executive officer of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. The two entities have also partnered on the COVID-19 Advisory Board to address, enhance, change, and/or establish new procedures as needed, guided by the knowledge gained during the early days of the pandemic. “This builds upon the early experience of Four Seasons Hotel New York, as well as Four Seasons hotels in Riyadh and Mumbai, in providing accommodation to high-risk medical personnel fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said. “Four Seasons Hotel New York was transformed into a safely zoned environment in a matter of days, implementing enhanced procedures to safely house guests, as well as properly train all employees. The program will touch nearly every aspect of the operation of Four Seasons’ properties, including extensive back-of-house training and policy adjustments. Noticeable changes are also being made to guest rooms and public spaces. Rooms are to be disinfected daily and inspected with blacklights; Lead With Care kits with masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes, are being placed in rooms, and the Four Seasons App and Chat is taking on greater prominence to minimize personal contact. Several other high-end hospitality companies and hotel chains have instated new policies to address the coronavirus and help travelers stay healthy during their jaunts. Hilton CleanStay with Lysol Protection in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic is a new program set to begin in June 2020 across 6,100 Hilton properties around the world, including the Waldorf Astoria. Its goal: To reach “a new standard of hotel cleanliness…from check-in to check-out.” Key features of the program include: The Hilton CleanStay Room Seal, which adds “an extra measure of assurance by placing a room seal on doors to indicate to guests that their room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned;” enhanced disinfection practices; disinfecting wipes located throughout the properties; and contactless check-in. Marriott International has established the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council and rolled out new technology and increased safety measures across its 7,000 hotels, which include the Ritz-Carlton, W, and Westin brands. “We are living in a new age, with COVID-19 front and center for our guests and our associates,” said Arne Sorenson, president and chief executive officer of Marriott International, in a release. “We are grateful for the trust our guests have shown us through the years. 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 so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels, they know our commitment to their health and safety is our priority. It’s equally important to us that our associates know the changes we are making to help safeguard their health as they serve our guests.” Over the next few months, the hotels will begin using electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant for sanitization purposes and are also “testing ultraviolet light technology for sanitizing keys for guests and devices shared by associates.” Additional changes are being made to disinfect high-touch surface areas, limit guest contact, and enhance food safety. Hyatt Hotels has also announced it is adding specially trained Hygiene Managers as part of its Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment. These on-site employees are expected to be in place by September 2020. Check into one of five-star Kempinski Hotels around the world and you’ll find employees decked out in white gloves and designer face masks. Disposable towels are now the standard in the hotels’ public restrooms, replacing cloth versions. Langham Hospitality Group, which encompasses the five-star Langham in London, is frequently disinfecting all high-touch areas; adding increased protocols for sterilization and room cleaning; adding automatic hand sanitizer dispensers throughout public areas; and providing gloves and masks to staff.        


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