EGood news in advance: reserving loungers this year is not a faux pas, but is even welcome in many places. Because if you stay lying there is less effort: Whether tables and chairs in the restaurant, stools and counters in the bar or the sun oasis by the pool – everything has to be disinfected as soon as a guest leaves and a new one arrives.
This also applies to doorknobs, elevator buttons, foiled menus, vending machines, in short: for every hotel inventory with smooth surfaces on which – if left untreated – corona viruses can persist for up to nine days.
The hoteliers are massively demanding the additional disinfection and hygiene measures; They are so extensive that the founder of the Berlin budget group a & o, Oliver Winter, was carried away by the promise: “With us, the guest – feels – is leaving healthier than he checked in.”
No mask requirement for guests in the hotel
His colleague from the top star hotel industry, Kempinski CEO Benedikt Jaschke, created a 50-page guide specifically for the reopening of the Grand Hotels and commissioned the Italian hotel uniform designer Maurel to produce white gloves and masks for the staff. Guests also receive a branded face mask – in case they want to wear one.
Because there is no nationwide obligation for hotel guests to wear a mask in the restaurant, not in the five-star and not in the one-star hotel. Rhineland-Palatinate is an exception, where guests must mask themselves when entering the restaurant. The latter also applies in Bavaria, the mouth-nose cover may only be removed at the table.
In the rest of the federal states only the operator has to wear masks, in Thuringia and Brandenburg they do not. This emerges from the regulations of the federal states for the reopening of the restaurant and hotel business.
Different rules apply in the restaurant
The states also regulate, for example, the question of whether buffets are allowed: guests in Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Hesse, Saxony and Thuringia can help themselves to the breakfast buffet as in the pre-Corona crisis, but in North Rhine-Westphalia this must be done a face mask is worn; Bavaria only allows packaged food at the buffet; in the remaining federal states there is a strict ban on buffets.
Only the distance requirement is regulated the same nationwide – at least 1.5 meters. With small additions: In Rhineland-Palatinate, the minimum distance must also be “between the chairs from one table to the chairs of the next table”.
Saxony attaches importance to “aisles” for the waiters. The Saarland goes even further and stipulates: “If the minimum distance cannot be maintained, partition walls must be installed.”
Corona redefines the concept of luxury
Mouth guards at the buffet and partitions in the restaurant – aren’t these great demands for holidaymakers, all the more for guests of the upscale hotel industry? Michaela Belling from the press team of the 30 brands international Marriott group answers the question in the affirmative.
That is why the German Marriott houses intended to “remove or rearrange furniture to create more space”. They even believe that “personal (free) space will be part of the definition of luxury” in the future.
At Kempinski too, furniture is “arranged differently in public areas” to make room, and new “privacy” signs are punched out. Guests who feel most secure in the room and therefore do not want to allow access to any member of the hotel team can hang the sign on the door and still use all the services of the house – “in front of the apartment”.
Luxury hotels are expanding their room service
To be completely undisturbed in your own room for the duration of your stay – this is actually a new concession owed to the corona pandemic that hotels of all star categories grant their guests. There are still fresh towels, they are then at the door.
For example, if you are checking in at the Althoff Hotels, you can request a “Do not enter my room” procedure for the entire stay at the reception.
In any case, Thomas H. Althoff, founder and managing director of the group with currently two brands (Althoff Collection, Ameron Hotels), is convinced that room service is gaining in importance and that “due to the social distancing behavior, guests would like to eat in the room more often in the future” . His hotel kitchens would therefore increase the choice of dishes.
Luxury hotels, such as the “Waldorf Astoria Berlin” belonging to the Hilton Group, even want to offer “in-room dining at any time of the day” – and thus beyond 10 p.m. if in the capital and five other states (Brandenburg, Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein) already have to close the restaurants. These closing times, which are significantly shorter than in pre-Corona times, apply equally to restaurateurs and hoteliers.
The protective measures also have advantages
It is all the happier for the hoteliers on the Baltic coast that in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where until 9 p.m. there is no more fun, the opening hours will be extended from May 25 to 11 p.m. Nine federal states (Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Hesse, Hamburg, Bremen, Baden-Württemberg) had waived restrictions on opening hours from the outset.
But all the regulations also have a good side, they pave the way for something new: Lindner Hotels & Resorts, for example, enable check-in by smartphone or at terminals in the hotel lobby; the Radisson Hotel Group is developing a contactless express check-out system; the Fleming’s hotel group promises “cashless payments everywhere”; the Accor hotel group is increasingly using “smart devices to replace printed materials”.
And Deutsche Hospitality – it brings together five hotel brands under one roof, including Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts – removes dust catchers such as decorative pillows and woolen blankets from the rooms with Verve.
Tips for vacationers before arrival
The question remains about possible disadvantages of the new rules. Guests need to be more flexible, sometimes a little more tolerant than before.
Or – even better – they contact the hotel before arrival and ask various questions: Does the check-in take longer due to the distance rules? What personal contact information is stored and for how long?
Is there a buffet or breakfast to go? Do the restaurants work with time slots and can you sit at a common table with other guests?
Do masks have to be worn in all public hotel areas? Do guests get free disinfectants? Are beauty and body treatments already bookable? And what can be used in the wellness area?
Hotels develop their own hygiene concepts
Questions that mostly regulate the regulations of the federal states. But the 16 texts not only have different content, their validity is also inconsistent; some regulations expire in May, others in June or only in September.
In addition, some hotel companies seek advice from certification companies and develop their own hygiene concepts that go beyond the official requirements.
For example, the MP Hotels belonging to the FTI Group are also considering “temperature controls at the hotel entrance”. The aforementioned Deutsche Hospitality has instructed its staff “not to speak when serving and clearing away, because the virus is spread through the airways”.
And if you book a treatment, you should be prepared to be treated by spa staff who wear a face shield, FFP2 mask and disposable cape, such as the Merano thermal baths in South Tyrol.