With hotels functional and restaurants set to open on June 8, most of the biggest hotels of the city have also trained their staff on the new rules of service etiquette. While front-desk staff have always greeted guests with a namaste (the usual practice in India that is being adopted internationally because of Covid-19 fears), personal touch has become a big no-no.
Many hotels have ushered in remote check-in facility, where guests can complete formalities online and be assigned room keys that they can just pick up from the front desk. JW Marriott has taken a step further. “We are using technology that allows a guest to use his/her registered phone to access the room,” said Gaurav Singh, JW Marriott vice-president (east India and Bangladesh) and Kolkata general manager.
The rooms have also undergone a change in many cases. At Lalit Great Eastern, room service, spa and pillow menu cards, brochures, writing pads and pencils have been removed to reduce touch-points. “Guests can avail themselves of services after viewing them online,” said Dilip Mishra, the hotel’s general manager.
All of the luxury hotels in the city have adopted elaborate SOPs to clean rooms. Housekeeping staff attired in PPE are servicing the rooms. Earlier, the advice was to reuse towels in order to reduce water wastage. But now, pressing health issues have overcome environmental concerns, and even unused towels are being changed after a guest checks out.
At Oberoi Grand, ironing board covers, draw sheets, pillow protectors and shower curtains will be sent to the laundry and heavy curtains, sheer curtains, blinds, rugs, durries, bed skirtings, upholstered furniture and headboards will be sprayed and cleaned with industrial-grade disinfectants after a room is vacated.
JW Marriott has put in place QR codes in high-contact areas of the room that will allow guests to see videos of how that section of the room was cleaned. “It’s aimed at building customer confidence. People are wary about the pandemic. Knowing how the room was cleaned will reassure them,” explained Singh.
All star properties have adopted deep-cleaning of guest rooms with special focus on surfaces such as door handles and knobs, remote controls, writing table tops, switches, telephones, water closet flush handles, health faucets, vanity counters and bathroom floors during morning and turndown service. All of them have also adopted the policy of keeping the room “quarantined” for 48 hours after a guest checks out before it is allocated again.
In the dining area, hotels have increased the distance between tables and removed self-service buffet options. Marriott hasn’t taken its buffet completely off but presented it in a new format, with live cooking in single portions and multi-course meals in a tiffin carrier that each guests can carry to the table without bothering about contact when each dish is separately served. At The Park, disposable plates and cutlery will be used when the restaurants open on June 8. Those who aren’t staying at the hotel can also dine out but it will be only after a pre-booking. And more than five persons will not be allowed per group.
At Taj Bengal, the menu has been redone with greater emphasis on wellness-oriented food sections for healthier meals and greater level of immunity, said a hotel spokesperson. The Park, too, is going the immunity way, serving “immunity-booster” drinks when guests arrive.