Hospitality: post COVID-19 – by Dexter Moren

Some years ago, while staying in a resort ski hotel, my entire family were one of many struck down by a dreadful stomach bug, the existence of which both the hotel and brand vehemently denied.

Thinking about it later I realized that the means of transmission was the ubiquitous food buffet where successive handling of serving implements was a perfect means of passing around any manner of bug.

That’s probably why cruise ships were at the heart of the Coronavirus pandemic – no airborne cough transmission necessary!

What we have learned most from this catastrophic viral event is avoidance of direct contact with others or items handled by others, and obsessive hand cleanliness.

So, what are the implications going to be for hotels, post COVID-19.

I suspect the porter taking your luggage will be gloved and while we may be less concerned at keeping 2m away from a receptionist, that key card would have come direct from a sterilizer, or access to your room would be via a code on your mobile. Contactless self-check-in will also become the norm with no grubby keypads to touch.

The lift will accept voice command and the bedroom door will spring open with a swipe of your mobile phone, and no touching of handles in the “public realm”.

Inside, the room will have not just been cleaned, but every surface, handle or switch wiped with sterilizing liquid, with house-person note to confirm. Within either the room or bathroom, or both at upmarket hotels, the new feature will be a wall mounted sterilizing gel dispenser, of which a variety of designer versions will soon become available in a wide range of colours & finishes.

With so much to keep clean & sterile will room design be simplified with unnecessary items and fashionable bric-a-brac eliminated?

Restaurant buffets will become less ubiquitous or at least food dispensed from buffets will be placed on your plate by a member or staff, no personal serving implement touching necessary. More budget operations, where such staffing levels or physical layouts aren’t possible, will feature sterilized gel dispensers at the beginning and end of the buffet run, possibly with instruction notices.

The bar will be encouraging guests to help themselves to their own glasses from a sterilized stash and the server will simply top up with your favourite tipple direct from the bottle or cocktail shaker. No touching necessary.

When it comes to payment, contactless credit card limits will be increased and guests will more readily use personal phones to pay. Keypads and cash may all but disappear.

In public washrooms touchless toilet flushing, hand washing and drying is quite commonplace but many manufacturers will be trying to emulate the Dyson hand-drier which dispenses water and dries your hands at the point of washing.

Automatic sheet by sheet toilet paper dispensers may grow in popularity. It’s assumed that toilet paper won’t be the object of pilfering post lockdown but dispensers will ensure you’re the one and only person to handle that sheet.

Gym’s will probably offer gloves to guests as well as peppering the space with more hand sanitizing dispensers.

All doors will open automatically and handles will become redundant artifacts of a past age.

All in all there will be a lot more Indian style head shaking than traditional English hand shaking and definitely no European body embracing – Brexit in a nutshell.