COVID-19 lead to changes at hotels locally, nationwide

COVID-19 nearly halted businesses at many hotels across the country, including Prairie Hotel in Yelm.

“Our occupancy has definitely, I would say, almost plummeted,” general manager Angie Evans said.

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen, people are venturing out of the house. Many are rebooking weddings, business trips and family vacations, which means they need a place to stay the night.

“I have people call and inquire: ‘What are you doing? What are you doing different?’” Evans said.

Many hotels have added shields at the front desk. They’re also disinfecting key cards and wiping down door handles, elevator buttons, luggage carts and handrails every hour.

Housekeepers make sure rooms are cleaner than ever before.

“We are taking a little extra time in the rooms doing, again, the high-touch areas: the faucets, the door handles, all of the surfaces and things like that,” Evans said.

Across the country, sanitization is also at the forefront.

Marriott hotels are using foggers to clean rooms with hospital grade disinfectant mist, which is the same type of device being used by airlines to clean planes between each flight.

Travelers can also expect changes at hotel gyms, pools and restaurants. Breakfast buffets are gone and coffee carafes have been swapped out for bottles of hand sanitizer.

“A clean room has been fundamental for decades. And, in the COVID-19 era, that has a new set of ramifications to it. I don’t know that once COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror, that we’ll have as many guests looking for the proof points necessarily, but they will still expect that room to be clean,” said Arne Sorenson, CEO Marriott International.