The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and hotels have quickly stepped up to ensure that they are adapting their procedures to this new normal. Extra cleaning, masks required, sanitizing stations, no housekeeping, distanced outdoor dining, pool reservations, spa closures… these are just some of the measures that have now been instated for guest safety across many hotels.
During COVID-19 I’ve so far stayed at 3 hotels: one in Santa Barbara, San Diego and most recently, Redondo Beach. These short escapes allowed our family a much needed break from the pandemic monotony. Each instance was a good reminder that travel is possible, but we now have to be hyper careful. I took precautions and did my research each time to ensure that we were not putting ourselves at higher risk than our usual home life. I definitely understand if you aren’t comfortable with hotel stays and of course, staying home is usually safer. However, if you do plan to stay at a hotel, here are some tips.
- Choose Wisely
It goes without saying but some hotels have adapted much faster to this new normal and have already implemented new strategies to keep guests and staff safe. Often the hotel website or its instagram will inform guests what they are doing and also what is not open. I called each of the hotels ahead of time to speak with the front desk staff to learn more about what the hotel was doing. I recommend calling as some of the websites were not updated.
I was pleased to learn that Shade Hotel Redondo Beach provided an amenity kit at check in that included wipes and a mask and had sanitizing stations set up around the property.
Some hotels have GBAC Stars, which indicate that the Global Biorisk Advisory Committee has approved the cleaning practices and safety measures that the hotel is taking to be safe. San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, CA has been awarded one of theses.
2. Go Midweek
Two of the three hotel stays that we took were on the weekend, which we couldn’t avoid as my husband had to work. However, my stay at the Shade Hotel Redondo Beach was a Thursday to Friday. I definitely noticed that there were less guests on Thursday and Friday morning than when I left Friday afternoon. Many were checking in for the weekend. Less people just means more space–that’s why I always recommend midweek trips, even pre-pandemic.
While I don’t doubt that any of the hotels that I stayed in thoroughly cleaned my room, I still felt better bringing wipes with me to give surfaces a quick wipe down. Use your common sense and wipe areas you know you will touch. Since housekeeping isn’t allowed to come in during your stay, you just have to do it once and then you are set.
I’d suggest wiping the following high use areas:
- All door handles
- Room Phone
- Mini Fridge Door
- Night table
- Area around sink
- Arms of chair
- TV remote
4. Bring Snacks!
Room service was not operating in any of the hotels that I’ve stayed in during COVID-19. I made sure to bring a tote filled with snacks for the whole family. My best work was a full meat and cheese board that we enjoyed for a beach sunset picnic at the Mission Bay Resort in San Diego. However, even just extra waters, seltzer and a bottle of wine that I brought to the Shade Hotel in Redondo allowed me to avoid the inconvenience of leaving.
If you are traveling with kids, you already know that you have to have snacks. We went so far as to prepare all Aurora’s dinners ahead in compartmentalized snack boxes. This made it much easier for us as we only had to worry about our food and not the stress of a hungry child!
5. Delivery Dinner
If your room has an outdoor space, dining on a balcony or patio can be just as memorable as going to the hotel restaurant. It’s also a heckuva lot safer. Check out Yelp and order delivery from a local restaurant to be enjoyed al fresco with the family. The best part about this option–no masks needed!
6. Sunrise Pool Time
Okay, sunrise might be aggressive but if you are craving some pool time and want to be safe about it, check out the pool in the early morning. I found the rooftop pool deck completely empty at the Shade Redondo Beach on a balmy Friday evening. A couple people came around midday and more later in the day, but the hotel mandated that no more than 10 be on the pool deck so it was always relatively quiet.
I know some pools have you reserve your pool time, and though it is limiting, it is a good way to minimize crowds and have more space.
7. Off Peak Dining
As with all restaurants, going to eat at off peak hours will definitely make the whole process quicker as there’s just less people. I had a late lunch at Sea Level at the Shade Redondo Beach and we were happy that there was no wait for our waterfront table. At the other hotels, we chose to order ahead from the restaurant and simply go pick it up when it was ready to enjoy in a park nearby or in our room.
8. Splurge for a Cabana
We decided that we wanted a day bed during our weekend at the Mission Bay Resort in San Diego because we wanted to be away from other people. We were able to select the exact day bed that we wanted, which was far away from the chairs and pool, in order to have a private, relaxing pool day. It was definitely worth the extra $80 to have a reserved, cleaned area just for us.
9. Wear a Mask
Stating the obvious but I do feel that some people tend to forget when they are on vacation. For example, we noticed a lot of mask wearing in the lobbies and public spaces but not much at the pool area in the San Diego Mission Bay Resort. As a reminder, wearing your mask at the pool is just as important as in other spaces. But if that’s not something that you want to do, consider hotels that have cottages or bungalows where you can enjoy your room and not need to be in public settings.
We have glamping on our list next and cannot wait to have a family experience in the fresh air!