Over the past year, local hotels and lodging facilities have had to adjust and change the way they do business to ensure their facilities meet the highest standard of cleanliness – both on a state and national level.
As the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the travel industry, Beckley area hotels have stepped up to optimize guest and employee safety during these times.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned travel upside down, and the hospitality industry has been forced to adapt to the new reality of lodging. From state-mandated policies to individual corporate enhanced procedures, Beckley area hotels have stepped up to optimize guest and employee safety during these times.
Under Governor Justice’s reopening plan, West Virginia Strong — The Comeback, all lodging providers in the state could open with new guidelines, including social distancing at check-in and check-out, self-screenings for patrons and mandatory face coverings. These guidelines, in addition to the guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), should be followed to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19 among workers and guests.
“Each of our hotel brands have issued mandates above the local level… to protect guests and employees during this time,” says Phil Lane, director of sales and marketing for VP Management. VP Management operates many chain hotels in the Beckley area.
The first protocol in practice is increased cleaning and disinfecting throughout the hotels — paying close attention to “high touch” areas such as elevators, breakfast areas, the front desk, fitness rooms and pools. The latter two areas had been closed during the first half of the pandemic, Lane says, but with increased sanitation practices in place, the hotels were able to reopen these areas for guests to enjoy. The fitness areas and pools are being cleaned more frequently and guests have access to hand sanitizing stations that include sanitizing wipes to use on the gym equipment.
Another hotel feature that is undergoing a new sanitation protocol is keycards. Keycards are now being disinfected many times throughout the day since they are used multiple times by various people. Lane says that the hotels now have boxes with disinfectant set up for guests to drop keycards in for staff to clean.
Lastly, daily housekeeping services have changed. Guests have the option to choose “housekeeping upon request” or no service at all. This option lowers the level of physical contact in a guest’s room. Guests can also select whether they want towels, washcloths or other linens available in their room during their stay.
“We are lucky to have a relationship with Ecolab, which provides our hotels with hospital-grade disinfectants for our linens and laundry,” Lane says. “Everything is required to be washed at a high temperature for optimal safety.”
Along with increased sanitation, many Beckley area hotels have adjusted their continental breakfast options. Instead of the self-serve buffet, Lane says, guests have grab-and-go options like high protein breakfast sandwiches, granola bars and other individually wrapped items available to them.
Communication with guests prior to arrival is essential for a safe visit. Guests can visit each hotel’s website for travel alerts and information on all the current protocols. Upon arrival, guests can also find printed information throughout the hotels, such as signs reminding visitors to practice physical distancing, stickers placed six feet apart on the floor at the front desk and door hangers notifying guests on current cleaning procedures.
“Our companies rolled out mandates very early to create an environment that is safe for our guests, as well as our employees,” Lane says. “We want people to feel safe in our hotels.”
If you are planning to visit the Beckley area in the future, please check out your hotel’s website before your arrival for its up-to-date safety procedures.