HOTELS - Summer/Fall News and Notes –
Tips, Observations and COVID Protocols in Two Great Okanagan
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.
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.
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
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
That has been replaced by a prebagged sub-standard offering.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
Full Daily Cleaning.
Periodic clean-up but
no linen washing for multi-day guests.
No cleaning at all
Similarly, for complimentary breakfasts, although this
could likely be more trouble than it’s worth:
(i) For limited service hotels normal offer –
(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
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
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
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
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.
News – Occupancy was certainly up and approaching normal for resorts during the
popular summer months.
Watch for my next blog!
Tim Anderson B.Comm