Everybody is crying out for a holiday after months of lockdown and staycations are set to soar with trips abroad looking unlikely for most.
The good news is the government has given permission for hotels with en suite showering facilities, or one designated shower facility per guest room, to reopen.
But it has issued strict guidelines for owners to follow in order to keep staff and visitors safe and stop the spread of Covid-19.
The seven key new rules are designed to help employers, employees and the self-employed in England only understand how to work as safely as possible and protect their customers while keeping to the recommended social distancing guidance applicable at the time.
Below are the seven vital changes you will notice next time you stay at a hotel in England…plus we speak to a hotel in Glasgow to see how they have been adapting during the crisis.
1. Screens in reception
Hotels have been told to take measures to make reception areas safer, with increased cleaning, keeping the activity time as short as possible and where possible the addition of screens between guests and staff.
2. Lift limits
Bosses have been told to consider minimising lift usage from reception, and urged to provide clear signage for new lift rules.
3. New room service delivery plans
Where offering room service, the guidelines state measures such as dropping butler’s trays outside door should be introduced. Hotels are also encouraged to add tips to the bill.
4. Cleaning checklist for housekeeping
Housekeeping staff must follow government handwashing guidelines, and now make a checklist of all hand contact services to be cleaned when each guests vacates.
5. Swimming pools and sauna rules
Hotels have been told to check the latest government guidance on opening of additional guest facilities (e.g. swimming pools, saunas).
6. Face masks for guests
Guests are to be encouraged to wear masks on communal corridors to help minimise the spread of Covid-19.
7. Social distancing at bars
Owners must ensure that any bar or dining area is only opened in a way compliant with UK government guidance on the hospitality sector.
Hotel supports hospital heroes with meals
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Laura McKenzie had a flood of cancelled bookings at her Glasgow hotel, Cathedral House.
The McKenzie family had spent 18 months building up business at the boutique hotel, which offers a luxurious “home from home” atmosphere, so they were shattered.
But within days Laura, who runs the hotel with husband Shane and two of their children Callum, 21 and 18-year-old Anna, was inspired to help out staff at nearby Glasgow Royal Infirmary. First, they block booked rooms for hospital staff at a reduced rate then with the help of a donation from Celtic FC Foundation, set to work making meals for them.
“I made a few phone calls and straightaway we had the team we needed to start producing the meals. It was probably ten days from thinking: ‘This is horrific, this is the end’ to thinking ‘We can do something good and support the local hospital here.’”
Laura knows the pressure that NHS staff are under because her daughter, Emily, 24, is a junior doctor in Dundee, so she was desperate to help. With the hotel’s staff all on furlough, Laura assembled a team of volunteer chefs from the city. The Red Onion’s patron/chef John Quigley was one of the first to volunteer and Laura worked with the head nurse at the Infirmary to set up the menu.
“ We decided we were going to do 100 meals a day,” she says. “We did 30 veggie options and 70 meat options and bought little takeaway tubs and labelled them all up with little stickers that said: ‘With love from Cathedral House’. And every night at quarter to seven the driver from the hospital would come and take the big boxes of food away. He said there was always such a buzz. People were like: ‘Oh, the food’s coming! What have we got today?’”
The hotel has now delivered more than 4,500 dishes such as jambalaya, bangers and mash and Thai curry. “It was a simple menu, all cooked fresh with lots of veggies and the sort of dishes you’d cook for yourself when you get home from work,” says Laura.
Doctors staying at the hotel were delighted because Laura would text them to see if they wanted a dinner putting aside – and they could pop down to the kitchen to collect it. Laura’s home-from-home hospitality was a real comfort to her guests.
“We had a couple from Stornoway who had a really premature baby and they were air ambulanced down to Glasgow. One of our rooms was empty and the hospital said could you look after this couple for us?” she says. “God love them, they were absolutely shellshocked. I said to pop down to collect a meal and they were so grateful.”
Laura’s been thrilled with the response from NHS staff. “We’ve had so many thank-you cards, emails and nice comments for people at the hospital,” she says. “I hope that once we get back to some level of normality the staff will come in on Friday night for a drink. Being in a city, it is just like neighbours helping each other and it’s a nice position to be in.”
Now Cathedral House is beginning to open up to the public once again, starting with takeaway on 4 July and Laura hopes to make use of their generous outdoor space. The boutique hotel is big on little touches such as fresh flowers in the rooms, comfortable beds and lovely linen and toiletries. And, as the McKenzie family have proved during the crisis, the warmest hospitality in town.