As more and more restrictions around the U.S. are relaxed, HEI Hotels & Resorts and Hospitality Ventures Management Group have announced their plans for keeping guests and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HEI, a hospitality investment and management company, has completed a comprehensive initiative to protect the health and safety of hotel guests and workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. A combination of new standard operating procedures, alterations to hotel spaces, and the purchase of disinfecting technology and personal protective equipment has been undertaken to support proper social distancing and hygienic practices at HEI’s portfolio of more than 80 independent and branded hotels.
“There is no greater priority than the health and safety of our hotel guests and associates,” said Anthony Rutledge, the company’s CEO/managing partner. “We are taking every precaution based on the best research, using the latest technology, and rewriting operating procedures to meet the highest standards for hygiene and workplace safety while maintaining the same consistent level of excellent guest service that we pride ourselves on.”
Employees will have their temperatures checked daily before their shifts begin, and the company has secured enough personal protection equipment, including masks and gloves, to last its hotels through the end of the year, according to HEI.
Proper training and oversight are key to successfully implementing the new protocols, according to the company. HEI has an expansive training team that has developed enhanced safety instruction for all associates. All hotel managers also have been instructed on how to conduct disciplined checks of safety protocols, including ensuring that PPE is in place and being used correctly at all times and that proper hygiene measures are consistently followed.
Cleaning procedures have been significantly enhanced across the board. Newly purchased electrostatic sprayers, which spray a mist of hospital-quality disinfectant, will be used routinely in public and private spaces. Additionally, housekeeping staff will be placing door seals on sanitized guestrooms so that patrons can feel assured they are the first to enter a hygienic environment.
To help maintain proper social distancing, alterations to hotel spaces and food-and-beverage offerings have been completed. Partitions separating guests from staff have been installed in high-touch areas, such as the front desk and bars, and signage throughout the hotel reminds both staff and guests to maintain a safe distance. Dining and catering options also have been restructured by implementing new procedures for touchless or low-touch restaurant dining and banquet options.
Hospitality Ventures Management Group
Hospitality Ventures Management Group, an Atlanta-based private hotel investment, ownership and management company, launched its Trust & Preparedness Plan, a comprehensive guest and associate safety and sanitation program that has been implemented across its entire portfolio of 47 hotels and one convention center in 17 states totaling 7,773 guestrooms.
“We have studied and incorporated the best practices from leading health officials represented by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization], state/local government entities as well as our brands’ required standards into a comprehensive, yet a straightforward, set of procedures,” said Robert Cole, president/CEO. “Our goal is to reassure our associates and guests that HVMG is taking every possible step to ensure their safety. While we are anxious to return to higher levels of business, we are not willing to do so at the risk of anyone’s health. These guidelines, which will be activated throughout our hotels, will let guests know what steps we’re taking and direct our associates on the best practices and products to create a sanitized environment in order to earn the trust of those we serve.”
The HVMG Trust & Preparedness Plan was written to provide clear directions to all HVMG properties with regards to COVID-19 ongoing preparedness and prevention measures to ensure associate and guest safety, according to the company. Protocols range from the installation of hand sanitizer stations in all public spaces to having all associates wearing masks. Additional instructions on sanitizing rooms and public spaces are explained, as are steps to take if a guest or associate tests positive for the coronavirus.
“In addition to compiling the most up-to-date information and best practices from a variety of sources, we have taken things a step further to ensure compliance by introducing a Certified Trust Ambassador at each hotel,” Cole added. “These individuals will be trained in the most up-to-date sanitation and cleaning protocols to ensure all hotels are implementing the plan effectively and consistently. We believe this added layer of responsibility will further establish trust with all of HVMG’s stakeholders as we cautiously seek to establish ‘the new normal.’”
Moving forward, HVMG plans to build a larger Trust Council comprised of both hospitality and nonindustry experts to educate its team on changing guidance and emerging technology to steer the company’s safety protocols moving forward.
“As proud as we are of this document, it is not intended to be a stagnant, one-time exercise,” Cole said. “Our Trust & Preparedness Plan will evolve as we reach out to additional thought leaders and learn more about the coronavirus and best practices to combat it. However, the basics of creating trust through strong safety and sanitation protocols will always be its foundation.”