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What changes (and maybe deals!) hotel guests can expect in the COVID-19 era

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Posted at 6:03 AM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 06:28:11-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Planning a “staycation” at a Michigan hotel this summer? Could be a good option if you’re sick of staying at home but don't want to fly somewhere. But how will the coronavirus impact your stay? And are there any incentives to lure you there in this age of COVID-19?

“Everyone here wears masks, and they walk around sanitizing everything several times a day,” said Jill Stern.

She’s been staying at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Commerce Township with her teenage daughter for weeks as they look for a new place to live.

She’s seen the coronavirus-related changes firsthand -- from new plexiglass at the front desk to complementary cleaning products for guests.

HOTEL GUESTS MISS SOME AMENITIES

“Here’s the pool area,” she said peering through the glass wall overlooking the extended stay hotel’s empty indoor pool. “As you can see there is a sign that it’s closed due to the COVID-19.”

The closure of amenities like the indoor pool, gym, and hot complimentary breakfast have really bummed her out.

But the biggest perk she's missed? Housekeeping!

“We keep up as best as we can, but there’s nothing like getting the floors vacuumed a couple times a week and your sheets changed. The ladies do such a wonderful job that you can’t compete with them,” she said smiling.

Stern said she has to change her own sheets and make the bed herself. Plus, she has to go down to the front desk to get fresh towels and drop off the dirty linens.

“The more people who check in here, [the sooner] we get our housekeeping back,” she said with a laugh, so I had to ask if this was true.

“They told you the reason why you don’t have housekeeping is because there are not enough people there to pay for housekeeping?” I asked. “Occupancy, yes,” replied Stern.

That's true according to the General Manager there -- Nash Yousif.

He told me with occupancy at about 27-percent, only one housekeeper has been needed compared to the normal 6 or so.

But he hopes to hire back four more as the occupancy rises.

Here's some good news. Yousif said complimentary breakfast will return on June 21.
But the breakfast food will be cold, and every item will be individually wrapped -- including the disposable coffee cups, their tops, and the plastic stirring sticks.

Sharing utensils or going to a buffet is not COVID-19 friendly.

SHINOLA HOTEL PREPS TO REOPEN

“As we looked at our reopen date, first and foremost for us was protecting our team,” said Mark O'Brien – the General Manager at Shinola Hotel in Detroit.

The luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Detroit on Woodward Avenue has been closed since March 23, 2020, and he said it will remain closed until at least June 21. A hard and fast date has not been set.

“It’s kind of fluid right now,” explained O’Brien.

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JoNathan Gross is practicing new cleaning protocols at the Shinola Hotel involving the electrostatic spray gun.

Plexiglass now encases the front desk, all staff wear masks, and housekeeping is training with the electrostatic spray gun which covers the room in a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner.

“Those really tiny particles get into every space. Then that has to sit or dwell on the surfaces for at least 15 minutes. So, once that is done that room is pretty much disinfected,” O’Brien said.

A housekeeper then wipes down the surfaces, tapes the minibar shut after cleaning and restocking, and leaves what O’Brien called “wellness kit” for guests to discover when they enter the room.

“It’s a little package with masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and we even put Emergen-C in there to make sure they’re getting their vitamins,” said O’Brien.

The Shinola Hotel's restaurants will not be reopening just yet.

Those start dates will come later in the summer or fall.

And, until occupancy increases, O’Brien said not all of Shinola Hotel’s 85-to-107 employees will be rehired just yet.

ROADMAP TO REOPENING

On June 8, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association released a step-by-step guide to reopening hotels with the public's safety in mind.

The MRLA’s “Roadmap to Reopening” combined guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Restaurant Association, Executive Orders from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the Michigan Economic Recovery Council.

Amanda Toy -- who oversees the MRLA’s membership of 1,500 hotels and 16,000 restaurants -- said at this point there is no executive order or mandate to have temperature checks for guests.

“If a property does choose to do that, that is up to them. However, the majority of places that guests will be visiting, they will not be asked to have a temperature check,” said Toy.

But Toy said you can expect plenty of signage about social distancing, wearing your masks, and visiting another time if you're not feeling well.

ASK ABOUT DEALS

Shinola Hotel is offering some incentives: a special rate for the Study Queen room -- $285-per night. That’s about $20-to-$50 off the regular room rate.

Shinola is also offering a $99 per night rate for the "Den king" room for frontline workers. That includes breakfast for two in your room.

TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Commerce Township also offers frontline workers a discount – $79 a night plus tax. Regular guests can get a Standard King Suite for $99 per night.

So, call your favorite hotels to see if they have a special right now in an effort to get their occupancy up.

You could be in luck!

That way you don’t waste your money.