What is it like to check into a 5-star Luxury Hotel right after lockdown?
As the lockdowns around the world ease, several clients have asked about what the new normal looks like in terms of hotel and resort stays. Questions have been sent to me such as:
Are hotels and resorts still relaxing to go to or will I spend the whole time sanitizing my hands, social distancing, and the like?
Is it safe to travel?
Have services been reduced?
Do I have to wear a mask?
Is anyone actually traveling, or will I be the only one staying at the property?
I decided to go and give this a try for myself. To find out the answers to all these questions I headed off on a mini-break to the Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico. While the procedures are different depending on your location and hotel/resort, I hope this article gives some indication of the new normal and general vibe out there.
The one thing that was initially clear that the hotels have not just reopened, there is definitely a new normal. Evidence of this was found right from the moment I arrived at the hotel gates. Before I was even allowed inside the property my body temperature was taken. This was a quick and easy process and I stayed seated in the car as the security guard used an infrared thermometer.
Before entering the front desk area, I was met with a sanitary station in which consisted of a hygiene mat to clean the bottom of my shoes on and also an alcohol gel dispenser to clean my hands. This process was painless.
From here I arrived at the front desk wearing a mask as I was actually unsure what the process was, looking back on this now I could have used some of my own initiative and read the Rosewood 'Commitment to Care' policy on their website. It was so hot that I actually had to remove my mask to breathe and the staff said nothing, so I presumed all was okay with taking it off. My butler was assigned to me and she kindly informed me that the resort was mask optional for guests but compulsory for all staff.
As I was yet to see another guest I was still apprehensive as I really didn't want to spend my holiday wearing a mask. I was worried that the other guests would opt to wear a mask so I would get weird looks for not wearing one. However, upon entering a main communal area I found saw that not one of the guests wore a mask and this remained the same for my entire stay. Phew!
My room was extremely clean. It also came with a 'Care Bag' bag that I could use for my stay. The bag consisted of sanitizer spray, antiviral gel hand sanitizer, and disinfectant towels.
The first thing I did was change out of the clothes I wore on the plane and put them into a plastic bag provided by the hotel so they could be sent to the laundry. This is just something I wanted to do to protect myself from possible cross-contamination of the room.
While I personally didn't oversee the housekeeping service of my room (that would have been a bit weird) I do know the Rosewood have implemented intensified hygiene and safety measures following guidelines issued by local health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is quite a detailed policy and goes as far as regular cleaning of all air filters and air conditioning systems. I was told that staff are also changing pillow protectors and mattress pads between each guest.
For comparison, I visited a nearby 5-star hotel as part of a site visit and noticed that many of the soft furnishings had been totally removed from the room as part of their Covid-19 measures, whereas Rosewood has not. Personally, I was very pleased with the appearance of my room at the Rosewood as the other hotel appeared a bit bare with these measures.
Some of the common area facilities were reduced. I noticed the pools at the front of the property were not in use. On the first evening, two restaurants were in operation, and on the final night, only one was being used. Both were open air. For me, this was fine as I am don't mind where I eat.
The property itself is very large which is great should you wish to practice social distancing. To get around to some places you need a buggy which is cleaned between each passenger.
Hygiene stations are located at the entrances to each common area - the same sort of station as I found at the front desk - which was a shoe clean mat and hand sanitizer. Around the pool, the beach, and other areas there were hand cleaning stations. The hotel boutique (store) was the only place where a face mask was compulsory to enter.
The hotel has removed all paper menus from the cafe and restaurants and replaced these with QR codes. When you are at the table you can scan the QR code with your smartphone and the menu appears on the screen. This was no bother to my experience. Things like salt and pepper shakers were removed and replaced with paper sachets. I noticed the staff cleaning the tables thoroughly between each guest. The hotel also offered a 20 percent discount on food and drinks which I am guessing is in place to make up for the slight service reduction.
When using the sun loungers, the staff covered them in a fabric protector, I am not sure if this was a new procedure to do with the new enhanced hygiene protocols or more for enhanced comfort.
The hotel was only allowed to open at, I think, 30 percent occupancy and it looked like it was at that. The clientele, in this case, was mainly from America and Mexico and nearly everyone was traveling with their children. I spent most of my time in the adult area which wasn't full at all. There are three pools in this particular area and I usually had one all to myself which was quite nice. The family pool area and the kids club were opened and appeared to be used a lot. It seems the kids club was used by parents to have some time out, this makes sense after spending a long lockdown at home. The kids appeared to be having a great time. The property is one of the best family-friendly resorts around.
The services in the spa were limited - e.g they have stopped doing manicures and pedicures which makes perfect sense. I cannot provide any more detail on the spa services as I did not visit it.
I very much enjoyed my time at the Rosewood Mayakoba, it was a treat which was only possible due to the post-Coivd-19 special offers. Throughout my entire stay, I felt very comfortable that the hotel had the correct cleaning and sanitization measures in place. I heard no complaints from the other guests.
This visit was important for me to see the new normal measures are in place so I can better inform my clients. The other reason for my stay was to relax after a tough few months.
The Covid-19 hygiene measures were not shoved in my face, eg the staff were not chasing guests around with bottles of hand sanitizer, using rulers to measure social distancing, or putting red tape everywhere sealing things off.
I can fully understand the reason why staff members have to wear face masks at the moment, however, I am very much looking forward to the day where the staff can remove them and we can see their faces as it gives a much more personable service experience. Talking about staff, all the staff I dealt with appeared very confident in the new safety standards that have been implemented. I was speaking to one of my local operators and he told me that all tourism staff in Quintana Roo have had to undergo an e-learning program and exam in relation to Covid-19 best practices.
What was noticeable was that the Rosewood Mayakoba's post lockdown operation was a very smooth and well-run machine. The procedures were balanced perfectly between guests being able to relax, their comfort, and most importantly safety.
I very much looking forward to returning here again one day and have no hesitation in recommending this property to my clients.
There is still time to get away this summer, take advantage of my affiliations with Protravel UK, Virtuoso, and most leading hotel brands worldwide to elevate your travel experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my website at clements.travel
The above is my personal view only and not that of any company that I may be affiliated with.