7 Ways Hotels are Changing Because of the Coronavirus

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In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, hotels were forced to adapt their policies to keep both guests and employees safe. While some of these new practices – like extending benefits for hotel rewards programs – are short-term solutions to an emergency, several adjustments are part of the hotel industry’s new normal. Read on to learn more about how hotel experiences will be a little different in 2021 and beyond.

Cleaning Protocols

A top concern for many travelers nowadays is what hotels are doing to keep both public spaces and rooms clean. And while it may seem like hotels are publicizing their cleaning practices for the first time, that’s not entirely the case.


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“What they’re doing, in essence, is having a secondary cleaning process that disinfects and sanitizes,” says Robert Rauch, hotelier and founder of Hotel Guru, a website dedicated to sharing trends and predictions about the hospitality industry. “We send an inspector in and identify the hot spots in the room.” Hot spots include high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and TV remotes.

Prior to your stay, expect housekeeping to thoroughly clean and sanitize your room with disinfecting products. Additionally, housekeeping may be suspended or only operating by request at certain properties for the short term. Hand sanitizer will likely be available throughout your hotel in public areas, and some properties will have hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes in guest rooms.

Rauch expects hotels will keep these new sanitizing protocols in place for a while. However, he believes properties will likely stop advertising them as part of their cleaning process after the pandemic.

[Read: Hotel Cleaning During COVID-19: Brands Enhance Cleaning Protocols.]

Slow Roll Out of Amenities

To help limit contact between hotel employees and guests, hotels have suspended or limited amenities like valet parking and spa services. Phil Cordell, Hilton’s global head of lifestyle brands and new brand development, says that these amenities will return slowly and that hotels will likely follow travelers’ leads. Cordell adds that Hilton uses guest surveys to gauge which amenities visitors are ready for and comfortable using again. This ensures Hilton does not move faster than their guests while following recommendations from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Similarly, Marriott properties will roll out amenities slowly in accordance with local guidelines.

Emphasis on the Outdoors

Unsurprisingly, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have caused many people to crave opportunities that allow them to get some fresh air and sunshine. Hotels are already capitalizing on this trend toward spending time outdoors. Cordell says that Hilton properties with outdoor spaces have seen “dramatic increases” in guest usage. Furthermore, both he and Rauch predict that business travelers may host events or seminars outside as space and weather allows. What’s more, outdoor workspaces provide a particular boon to those who opt for a work-from-hotel package.

“People want to be outdoors,” Rauch says. “They want to be able to get together and see their friends, family and loved ones outdoors.”

Mike Mueller, president of brand operations at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, says the pandemic pushed Wyndham hotel owners to utilize outdoor space. Many Wyndham properties are limited-service hotels, which means they lack high-end amenities like on-site restaurants or large rooms where guests can gather.

“Hotel owners weren’t thinking about [outdoor space] before,” Mueller says. “For groups who want to socialize together that are spread across three or four rooms, where do you put them to socialize [so that] social distancing is possible?”

He says the answer for some properties has been to install pergolas and picnic tables outside for guest use. Mueller predicts that this trend is here to stay as hotel owners discover that these additional spaces are an asset to guests.

[See: What is Glamping? 15 Top Glamping Resorts in the U.S.]

Gallery: 13 Top Hotels With Work-From-Hotel Packages (US News & World Report – Travel)

  • Slide 1 of 16: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact daily life in the U.S. and around the world, many companies remain committed to employee safety by offering remote work options. Because of this, numerous Americans have been working from home for months, bringing about some new challenges. While some find themselves working in cramped quarters, others are juggling their children's education and their professional obligations. These circumstances can make it difficult to stay focused. Fortunately, many highly regarded hotels in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean are offering work-from-hotel packages that aim to provide an appealing alternative location (and thoughtful amenities) for working remotely. Whether you desire more space for a day or crave a better view for a week or longer, these hotels are bound to keep you focused on the task at hand.

  • Slide 2 of 16: Hang your hat at Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel to soak up some sun while staying on top of your work. A member of the Kimpton Hotels family, this Miami Beach outpost offers a work-from-hotel package designed to keep you productive while enjoying the outdoors. When you choose the "WFH Work From Hotel" package, you'll have access to both a pool cabana – which sits within steps of the pool and beach – and a recently renovated guest room or suite. What's more, you'll receive an office kit with a notepad, pens and a stapler at check-in, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi access the duration of your stay. Additional perks include a reduced valet parking fee of $15, up to 20 pages of free printing, complimentary coffee in the lobby from 8 to 10 a.m., and a 15% discount at The Social Club and High Tide Beach Bar and Grill, the hotel's two eateries. Plus, the daily resort fee is waived, and twice as many IHG Rewards Club points are awarded when booking the package with an active account. To enjoy this offer, you must reserve by June 30 and stay by Sept. 30, 2021. Rates start at $109 per night.

  • Slide 3 of 16: If you're looking for a quick escape to a warmer destination, opt for a stay at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. With the property's "Viva Las Office" packages, you'll have access to a multitude of work amenities, plus leisure facilities to enjoy after clocking out. In your room, you'll find a desk and free Wi-Fi access. What's more, you can contact your designated executive assistant to help you schedule appointments. When you're ready for a break, make your way to the fitness center for a workout, enjoy a treatment in the spa or lounge by one of three pools. The standard package rate starts at $101 per night and includes a daily food and beverage credit of at least $50, which you can spend at several on-site eateries. Upgraded packages cover additional perks like poolside massages and cabana rentals. To book a Viva Las Office package at this MGM-affiliated resort, your visit must start midweek and last at least three nights. Check-in begins as early as 8 a.m., and guests can check out as late as 6 p.m.

  • Slide 4 of 16: Those looking to work outside their Washington, D.C.-area home for the day should consider staying at Hamilton Hotel Washington DC. The property's "WFH: Work from Hamilton" package, which is available on weekdays, focuses on providing everything remote workers could need during business hours. After check-in, which starts at 6 a.m., guests can get to work in their assigned accommodation. Each space comes equipped with work essentials like a Keurig coffee maker and complimentary Wi-Fi access. Breakfast (included in the rate) will be left outside the guest room doors before noon, and additional conveniences like printing and faxing services, and office supplies can be arranged upon request. Should visitors find themselves in need of a break, they can head down to the lobby to grab a snack from the on-site Starbucks and admire the exquisite mix of beaux-arts and art deco architecture on display. Checkout is at 7 p.m., leaving guests plenty of time to finish their work before signing off for the day. The package is available indefinitely, with rates starting at $89 for a room and $199 for a suite.

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  • Slide 5 of 16: Whether you're from Arizona or planning a short trip to the Grand Canyon State, the midcentury modern Hotel Valley Ho ensures you'll maintain work-life balance during your visit. Located about 10 miles northeast of Phoenix, the hideaway's "Hotel Valley Ho(me) Office" package, which has a starting rate of $249 for the day, covers use of a guest room with a pullout desk, as well as extras like unlimited high-speed internet access and on-site parking. What's more, you'll receive a $25 dining credit, which you can use to purchase snacks from your in-room minibar or shakes from ZuZu, the hotel's restaurant. Should you finish your work early, make your way to one of the property's two pools to cool off and bask in the Arizona sun. Keep in mind, the package is only available on weekdays through April 30, 2021, and it only covers access to the hotel's amenities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you wish to extend your visit, you can pay an additional $30 to stay the night.

  • Slide 6 of 16: Americans can visit Mexico for up to six months without a tourist visa, making this border country an appealing option for remote workers. While hundreds of properties are available here, few offer a work-from-hotel package as well suited for adults traveling with children as Conrad Punta de Mita. At this Hilton-affiliated resort 27 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta, guests can book the "Stay Longer & Work from Paradise" package, which combines office essentials with must-have kids services. The package covers amenities like premium Wi-Fi access, technical support and a 20% discount on food and drinks. Plus, remote workers with children in tow enjoy complimentary use of the on-site kids club and can request tutors to assist with remote learning. When work and school are done for the day, everyone can reunite for a stroll on the beach or to play pingpong in the property's game room. To book the package, a minimum stay of two weeks is required. Guests who stay three weeks will only pay for two via a reduced rate spread across the three-week period. Rates start at $296 per night, and the package is available through March 31, 2021.

  • Slide 7 of 16: Choose the Omni Louisville Hotel if you seek a comfortable, well-appointed workspace in Louisville. After checking in to this Omni outpost in the heart of the city, you can get straight to work in a Kentucky-inspired accommodation featuring horse farm photography and Louisville Slugger-inspired lamps. With the property's "Work Away From Home" package, you'll enjoy free valet parking and Wi-Fi access during your stay, plus a complimentary cup of coffee at Heine Brothers' Coffee, a local coffee shop chain with a location one block away from the property. Additionally, you'll have access to the Omni's grab-and-go market, should you want to pick up lunch or a snack during a work break. Once you clock out for the day, unwind with a cocktail at the hotel's library-themed bar or its speak-easy-style venue with bowling lanes. Rates start at $170 per night, and the overnight package is bookable any day through March 31, 2021. Check-in begins at 10 a.m., while checkout is at 3 p.m. the following day.

  • Slide 8 of 16: Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills is the place to stay when you desire extra privacy while working. Situated between Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California, in the exclusive community of Beverly Hills, this Viceroy outpost beckons to luxury-loving remote workers with its upscale amenities and convenient services. Book the property's "Work From Hotel" package to enjoy a variety of business necessities, including free Wi-Fi access, use of office supplies and a printer, and access to Amazon Alexa voice assistants. Plus, each suite features luxe metallic hues and comes equipped with a desk, a Nespresso machine, two bottles of water and a welcome CO Bigelow sanitation kit. Your chosen accommodation will also be upgraded at check-in; plus, the hotel offers flexible check-in and checkout times. Additionally, the package covers a $25 food and beverage credit that can be used for takeout and room service from the property's French bistro, Avec Nous. An on-site fitness center is available as well. Rates for the work-from-hotel package start at $599 per night.

  • Slide 9 of 16: Remote workers keen on trading in backyard views for beach vistas may want to plan a multiday stay at Montage Kapalua Bay. At this high-end property, which can be found in Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui, everyday work stress will instantly melt away as guests gaze at Namalu Bay. For those who book the Preferred resort's "Work & Play" package, accommodations come fully equipped with an array of office supplies, including 27-inch monitors, webcams, wireless keyboards, printers and keepsake earphones. Additionally, each suite features fitness equipment and offers the opportunity to work outside on a private furnished lanai. Visitors also receive a $200 dining credit that can be spent at on-site eateries like upscale Cane & Canoe, the island-inspired Hideaway and the poolside Hana Hou Bar. To book the package, guests must stay a minimum of five nights. Only stays from February through May 2021 and between September and mid-December 2021 qualify. Rates start at $1,425 per night for a two-bedroom suite.

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  • Slide 10 of 16: While The Driskill has long appealed to history-loving tourists, the hotel's "Take Care of Business" package also makes it an ideal place for Austin locals who want to change up their work-from-home routine. Visitors who reserve this package will receive access to a chic guest room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; each room showcases old Texas decor (like steamer trunk nightstands and vintage photos of the property) and comes outfitted with a desk. Plus, the package covers extras like high-speed internet access, valet parking, a wellness kit and a desktop set with notepads, pens and bottled water. Those visiting with up to five colleagues can also work together in one of the property's small boardrooms or meeting rooms. When remote workers find themselves needing a break, they can pencil in a quick workout in the fitness center or cash in their $30 dining credit at 1886 Café & Bakery, a casual restaurant that specializes in Texas comfort classics. Or, guests can make their way to the lobby to simply admire the historic Hyatt outpost's stunning architectural details, including columns, a coffered ceiling and a stained-glass dome. Rates for the package, which is available to book through Dec. 31, 2021, start at $110 per day.

  • Slide 11 of 16: The Caribbean island of Aruba is an excellent option for a multiweek workcation, as the country allows Americans to stay for up to 30 days without a visa. Although remote workers will find several noteworthy accommodation options on the island, visitors who want to enjoy a plethora of resort amenities will love staying at Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. For those who need to focus on work during business hours, the expansive Marriott property offers the "Work From Anywhere in the Caribbean & Latin America" package, which covers Wi-Fi access and use of a room with a desk. (Rooms also boast private balconies or patios with either garden or ocean views.) Additionally, the overnight offer includes two cocktails at the lobby bar, daily breakfast for two and a 20% discount at a Starbucks and other on-site food and beverage venues. When guests sign off for the day, they can break a sweat in the fitness center, test Lady Luck in the casino, go for a swim in the main pool or watch the sun set from Palm Beach. The package is available through June 6, 2021, and rates start at $216 per night.

  • Slide 12 of 16: For those who wish for a change of workspace scenery in Boston, the Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston has you covered. This Four Seasons property in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood offers a "Conference Calls to Cocktails" package with both day and overnight options. Standard package perks include access to a space with office essentials like a monitor, a printer, a wireless mouse, a keyboard and charging cables. Plus, the package fee covers premium Wi-Fi access and a selection of healthy snacks. Available through June 30, 2021, package rates start at $300 per room and $600 per suite for daytime access between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. If you'd rather stay the night, upgrade to one of the overnight options, which come with 24-hour concierge service, late checkout at 5 p.m. and a complimentary beverage from The Trifecta Trolley – a roaming bar cart that delivers cocktails at the end of the work day. In-suite Peloton bikes are available by request as well if you reserve the Executive Suite option. After you power down and relax, you can take advantage of on-site facilities like an indoor pool, a fitness center and a Japanese-inspired restaurant.

  • Slide 13 of 16: Head to the Fairmont Pittsburgh if you're based in the Steel City and find yourself needing new surroundings to reenergize your work routine. At this Fairmont property in downtown Pittsburgh, you can book the "Work From Hotel" package to take advantage of a variety of business-focused amenities. You'll have access to a Fairmont Deluxe room, which comes outfitted with a desk, a coffee maker and a laptop-size safe, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. What's more, you'll receive complimentary perks like valet parking, premium internet access and sodas and water. Printing and photocopying services can be arranged upon request as well. The package also includes a 20% spa discount and use of the on-site fitness center, should you want to unwind or exercise during your work break. And once your stomach starts to grumble, you can treat yourself to breakfast via room service or enjoy a post-work dinner at the modern American restaurant fl.2. Rates start at $149 per day, and the package is available through Dec. 30, 2021.

  • Slide 14 of 16: New York City is full of noteworthy hotels, but few are as stylish as SoHo's Crosby Street Hotel. Featuring decor chosen by British interior designer Kit Kemp, the colorful rooms are sure to inspire creativity as you work. When you book the property's "Work from Crosby Street Hotel" package, you'll have access to a guest room outfitted with a writing desk, complimentary Wi-Fi access and a flat-screen TV that can connect to a laptop. Additionally, the $595 per day charge covers on-call concierge support services and use of the fitness center and the Drawing Room – a guest lounge ideal for work breaks thanks to its fireplaces, honor bar and attached courtyard garden. Although the package, which is available indefinitely, does not cover snacks or meals, each room has a minibar with items for sale. Free coffee or tea is also available upon arrival. Check-in begins at 8 a.m., while checkout is at 6 p.m. If you're enjoying your time at the property, you can extend your stay overnight for a reduced rate.

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  • Slide 15 of 16: Kimpton Surfcomber HotelARIA Resort & CasinoHamilton Hotel Washington DCHotel Valley HoConrad Punta de MitaOmni Louisville HotelViceroy L'Ermitage Beverly HillsMontage Kapalua BayThe DriskillAruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris CasinoFour Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, BostonFairmont PittsburghCrosby Street Hotel

  • Slide 16 of 16: Ways Hotels are Changing Because of the CoronavirusHotel Cleaning During COVID-19: Brands Enhance Cleaning ProtocolsThe 50 Best Hotels in the USAThe Best Business Hotels in the USAThe Best Hotel Rewards Programs

From private workspaces to office essentials, these hotels offer everything you need to stay productive while working remotely.

Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel: Miami Beach, Florida

ARIA Resort & Casino: Las Vegas

Hamilton Hotel Washington DC: Washington, D.C.

Hotel Valley Ho: Scottsdale, Arizona

Conrad Punta de Mita: Punta de Mita, Mexico

Omni Louisville Hotel: Louisville, Kentucky

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills: Beverly Hills, California

Montage Kapalua Bay: Lahaina, Hawaii

The Driskill: Austin, Texas

Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino: Aruba

Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston: Boston

Fairmont Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh

Crosby Street Hotel: New York City

The Top Properties With Work-From-Hotel Offers

  • Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel
  • ARIA Resort & Casino
  • Hamilton Hotel Washington DC
  • Hotel Valley Ho
  • Conrad Punta de Mita
  • Omni Louisville Hotel
  • Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills
  • Montage Kapalua Bay
  • The Driskill
  • Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
  • Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston
  • Fairmont Pittsburgh
  • Crosby Street Hotel

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Web and App Technology

“There’s an app for that” certainly rings true for hotel brands. Top brands, including Four Seasons, Hilton and Marriott, have apps that create a seamless experience for guest stays. Depending on the app, travelers can book rooms, order room service, chat with hotel staff and check in to their rooms.

Many of these apps and functions existed pre-pandemic, but it wasn’t until social distancing became the norm that brands pushed the “contactless” angle, Rauch says. The Hilton App launched in 2015, and it currently offers benefits like contactless check-in and a Digital Key, which guests use to open their rooms at roughly 5,000 Hilton properties worldwide. In fact, the pandemic pushed users to take advantage of the Digital Key: Hilton reports that the number of guests who opted to use a Digital Key nearly doubled from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020. Similarly, Marriott’s Bonvoy app lets Marriott Bonvoy members book rooms, check in and, where available, enter their room with mobile keys. Marriott also began offering web check-in for both members and nonmembers in September.

Budget travelers will be happy to know that Wyndham released its app in September, allowing users to manage their Wyndham Rewards account, book hotels and check in or out of their rooms with their smart device at nearly 6,000 properties.

This technology will stay well after the pandemic’s end, but hotels are moving forward with it at different rates. For instance, Marriott projects it will have mobile keys across all hotels by mid-2021. On the other hand, Wyndham hotels do not have mobile key technology. According to Mueller, it could take some time before they do. Part of the hurdle is that implementing the technology is costly. It’s also uncertain what impact it will have on customer service.

“We hold that relationship dearly that occurs during check-in and checkout,” Mueller says. He notes Wyndham is looking into how offering digital keys will affect that relationship between employees and guests, specifically whether it will remove all contact between parties throughout a guest’s stay.

Food and Beverage Service

The pandemic caused hotels to rethink the way they handle dining options. For some, this meant closing down breakfast buffets and serving prepackaged food to guests. Others opted to limit service at or close restaurants temporarily. However, dining at hotels will make a comeback, though it will be slightly different.

Mueller predicts hotel employees could serve buffets instead of guests helping themselves. Cordell anticipates pre-portioned or individually portioned servings could be present on buffet lines rather than large food trays.

Creating a hybrid of buffet and tableside service could be another option. Hilton is piloting a program at several locations that allows guests to select different options from a menu that their server brings to them. Cordell says the selections are still all-you-can-eat, but it will limit how many items guests will have to touch. Another bonus? Cordell reports that hotels using the program have less food waste. Whether this dining option will roll out to other Hilton properties is still undetermined.

Major brands worldwide offer ways to order food online. For example, Four Seasons has allowed guests to order room service from the brand’s app since 2015. Some Marriott properties have also begun permitting guests to order food via a mobile device from their hotels’ restaurants. Marriott plans to expand the service to more properties after seeing the program’s success. Though Hilton doesn’t currently offer ordering through its Hilton Honors app, the company says it is a possible feature in the future.

Sticking to Essentials

In 2020, hotels removed superfluous items from guest rooms to limit the number of high-touch items. For example, Wyndham took out decorative throw pillows.

“There’s a fine line between amenities and clutter,” Mueller says. He adds that now that hotels are removing these nonessential amenities, they aren’t likely to bring them back. “If [those accessories] were only there to add a pop of color, they’ll go away.”

Hilton properties no longer offer in-room notepads, menus and magazines, and Cordell says they’re gone for good. Instead, guests can use their smart device to scan a QR code and see that information pop up on their device.

Hotel Design

Hotel design shifts slowly, and sustainability remains at the forefront for several brands. In 2018, Marriott announced it would swap its small single-use bottles for large bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in guest bathrooms. Despite the pandemic slowing their progress, Marriott reports it is “committed to reaching its goal.” Furthermore, hoteliers recognize that many travelers continue to express interest in staying in green buildings and accommodations. As hotels make design and infrastructure choices, they’re likely to consider solutions like LED lightbulbs and eco-friendly materials.

In contrast to the steady stream of environmental changes hotels are making, the shift toward cleanliness has been relatively abrupt. To help guests keep their distance from others, hotels have made some changes to interior spaces, such as spacing tables at least six feet apart in restaurants or extending outdoor dining spaces. However, Cordell predicts that there will be additional changes to the way hotels look and feel that will focus on cleanliness and health. A prime example: using hard surface flooring in guest rooms rather than carpet, as those surfaces are easier to clean. Other advancements are more technology based, such as installing ultraviolet lighting and selecting upholstery fabrics engineered to be easily cleaned and resistant to bacteria. The future of hotel design will incorporate both environmental efficiency and cleanliness, yet many of these changes, Cordell stresses, will not arrive immediately.

[See: What is an Ecolodge? 21 Top Eco Resorts and Eco Hotels Around the World.]

No matter where your travels take you in 2021, your hotel will likely have some or all of these changes in effect. Consult the property’s website or contact the hotel before you travel for a full list of available amenities and safety precautions. To decide where you should stay, consult U.S. News’ Best Hotels rankings.

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