HOTELS - Summer/Fall News and Notes – 2020
Tips, Observations and COVID Protocols in Two Great Okanagan Hotels
In August I observed two trends during a short driving vacation through British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley with it’s incredible scenery and world-class vineyards.
My wife Linda and I stayed in two very nice hotels, one of which had just opened. It demonstrated surprising new initiatives – but also some inconsistencies relating to Covid 19 protocols.
An Electric Observation
Electric Cars have arrived and both hotels are prepared! We noted the 6-8 electric charging stalls were fully used every night.
Have you seen the Ford electric car ads or heard about the upcoming electric F-150 (The biggest selling pick up in North America)? You and I will soon be driving hybrids or fully electric powered cars. As you know, most hotels, probably including your own are preparing for the future by accommodating this growing need today.
Exponential technological development is happening extremely quickly in this decade and beyond. It’s important to stay on or ahead of the trends.
Notable Changes in Hospitality Services
With summer being the high-revenue period for resort properties, I noticed same day check out, room cleaning and the check-in of new guests as in pre-COVID practice.
At most hotels, for multi-day stays there is no daily room cleaning for guests. Personally, that is what I prefer. That eliminates the possibility of room contamination by an infected staff person.
Linda and I took note of the reduction in the quality of complimentary breakfasts. Previously hotels offered a reasonable breakfast selection that often included a mix of hot and cold serve yourself items.
That has been replaced by a prebagged sub-standard offering.
As we move back to “normal,” (literally happening in China right now) will hoteliers be able to reduce expenses and pass on some of the savings to guests by offering one of three cleaning regimes?
(i) Full Daily Cleaning.
(ii) Periodic clean-up but no linen washing for multi-day guests.
(iii) No cleaning at all until check-out.
Similarly, for complimentary breakfasts, although this could likely be more trouble than it’s worth:
(i) For limited service hotels normal offer – Breakfast included.
(ii) No Breakfast at a slight reduction in cost.
More COVID Related Thoughts and Observations.
We found most services and amenities were excellent. They combined to make our hotel experiences most enjoyable. However, I noted a few shortcomings starting with arrivals and ending with checkouts.
1. Mask policy: There was none. However, conveniently placed hand sanitizers were everywhere. While many guests wore masks, hotel staff did not except for food service.
2. Elevator protocol:
Property A: No control. Guests used the elevators freely although we all respected physical distancing and waiting for the next elevator. But there was no express protocol.
Property B: excellent control utilizing your room key. If you were alone, or with a bubble person(s) such as family members, you used the lift. No one else rode with you.
3. Common areas such as hallways:
Both properties: No masks - guests simply stayed out of each other’s way as they do in a Canadian Tire or grocery store. It would be impossible to do things differently except with a specific mask policy.
4. Food and Hotel Restaurants.
Property A: This is brand new 2.5 star top flagged hotel which provided a free pre-packaged bag breakfast. The idea was fine, but the “breakfast” was unbelievably bad. At a 2.5 star but top flagged property, we were given a frozen ham and egg wrap. Thawed in the microwave, it became mush! Needless to say, we went out for breakfast.
Also an abundance of fresh fruit is part of the Okanagan Valley Brand. That is what it is known for. We found it curious that the pre-packaged “free” breakfast included a small, partially ripe orange that was imported. Where was the delicious local fresh fruit?
Property B: No free breakfast but, believe it or not, a buffet? To be fair, patrons had to sanitize their hands. However, none of us had to wear a mask. There wasn’t even a sneeze guard! The only protection for all food offerings? Clamshells! And we fully served ourselves – no staff except coffee.
Further, the food description did not match the offering – creamy scrambled eggs were totally dry. This was the second hotel and thereafter, like the first hotel we ate out for breakfast. Much better quality and literally ½ the price.
The restaurants for our evening meals were up to par and very enjoyable.
5. Checkout – In my December post, with no car I shared how I discovered a valet parking charge of $124 CAD when checking out of a venerated 4-star hotel in Washington DC.
It was déjà vu in the Okanagan. At Property B, I was charged double for our buffet breakfast. The experience served as another reminder to secure and check your bill upon leaving.
As we all know it is important to impress upon staff to take the time to ensure that the patron confirms the charges. In the midst of a speedy check-out, mistakes like these may not be caught by the customer. When discovered, such a mistake may influence his or her decision to return next time.
With business travel, it can be worse. If discovered by a company accountant checking expense charges this seemingly small detail can cause a big problem.
The Best News – Occupancy was certainly up and approaching normal for resorts during the popular summer months.
Watch for my next blog!
Tim Anderson B.Comm