Hotel Stay During Covid-19, Welcome To The Twilight Zone
As we have been hunkering down at home, scrolling Facebook and binging Netflix shows we have been dreaming of the day we get to travel again. It feels like we are getting closer and closer to that day with states across the country starting to open up. Needless to say we have been anxious to get back out there, but we are not really sure what to expect when that time does come. Ian shared his story last week of what it is like to fly during the pandemic and today I wanted to share what a hotel stay during Covid-19 is like. This is coming second hand from my parents but I thought the story was worth sharing.
We have been dealing with the pandemic for around 2 months now in the United States. Things have started to slowly open back up across the nation. There are a few southern states that are way ahead of the pack though. One of those states happens to be where my parents live, Florida. They currently reside near the Jacksonville area. Within the past few weeks most everything has opened up, with some restrictions set in place.
My parents have had a “staycation” of sorts planned for Memorial Day weekend in Daytona Beach for some time now. They had figured that they would end up canceling the stay because of the pandemic but kept the booking intact just in case. With Florida opening a week or so before their trip they decided to give it a shot. They have both been working throughout the pandemic and needed a little time away. Heading to the beach seemed like a nice little getaway and since the state was now open they figured it would be okay.
Their plan was to bring food for breakfast and lunch and then get some takeout or dine outside etc. for dinner. They wanted to spend the day on the beach and then hang out in the room overlooking the water. They figured the beach shouldn’t be too crowded and hopefully everyone would take proper precautions to make the stay enjoyable. But when they entered the hotel it was like entering the twilight zone, a place where nothing had ever happened.
Hotel Experience During Covid-19 Details
You may be wondering what I mean by entering the twilight zone. Well everyone around them was acting like it was business as usual and like it was May of 2019 instead of May of 2020! There were some adjustments made but many things seemed to be business as usual.
They had Friday off an got to the hotel ahead of the holiday traffic. They were staying at the Hyatt Place Daytona Beach. This is one of my favorite Hyatt Place locations, which is also my favorite hotel brand. We just stayed there in February, before all of this craziness really ramped up. They said Friday was pretty relaxing and that the hotel was pretty empty. They were able to get to the beach and hang out without really needing to interact with anyone etc. But Saturday was a whole different ballgame and the hotel was actually sold out. I am not sure if that means legit sold out or just at their new capacity but they were turning away walk in guests. My parents did note that all of the parking lots were pretty full.
Here are some of their observations and experiences from their stay:
- When they entered the hotel no one working at the front desk staff were wearing masks. The only hotel employee they saw wearing a mask the entire weekend was one floor cleaner.
- Including themselves, they would say that maybe 5 guests wore masks the entire weekend.
- They were told the elevator should be limited to 6 guests. This rule was not enforced in any way.
- Maid service was suspended unless you were there for 3 or more days. You could call down for towels etc. if needed.
- They never noticed anyone wiping down door handles, buttons or any common areas while moving about the hotel.
- The beach was large and it was easy to distance. The pool was another story, it was completely packed. And the chairs were not spaced out any differently than they normally would be.
- There was no hot breakfast like you would normally get at a Hyatt Place. They had people wait in line to pick up breakfast which consisted of cold items like muffins and bagels etc. There was no spacing requirement in this line and the employee handing out the breakfast was not wearing a mask.
My Thoughts About This
To be honest, I was a little shocked when they were giving me the rundown. It was pretty much like a pandemic never happened. I am not overly surprised that guests did not wear masks but I would have thought the ratio would have been higher than just a handful that did. I was very surprised that pretty much none of the staff were wearing them.
Another issue I was very curious about was the elevator situation. This isn’t your normal Hyatt Place with 3 floors where you could use the stairs easily and there are only 2 elevators on property (3 at most) if memory serves me right. I believe there are 10 floors at the hotel too so I figured this would be an issue. There is no way to social distance on an elevator, especially when you are allowing 6 people on at a time. Throw in the fact that no one is wearing a mask and it could be uncomfortable for sure. My parents also said that people did not always follow the rules, packing 10 people in etc. It doesn’t seem like the best set up.
Breakfast seems like a real mess too. You are not spacing anyone out and then the person handing out the breakfast has no mask on etc. For reference, when my parents ate on the outdoor patio of the Red Lobster across the street everyone working there had a mask on.
I was a little surprised that there was no spacing out by the pool and nothing was being wiped down throughout the hotel on a regular basis. It just doesn’t make sense to me that almost no precautions would be put into place when reopening.
I asked my parents if it was worth it and they were quick to say no. Outside of the time on the beach they said they were never able to relax much. It was totally different than what they expected. They figured some sort of procedures or precautions would be set into place but there wasn’t much of anything.
This is only one hotel in one city. I am sure there will be plenty that act very similar to this experience while there will be others that take all of the suggested precautions when dealing with guests. The tricky part will be knowing which one you are getting when you book an upcoming stay. I would suggest calling the front desk and asking what precautions they are taking if you are concerned about it.
Having said that I am sure there is a good portion of the population that would prefer it to be set up this way. A portion that are ready to move on with their lives and get back to normal. And there is another set that wouldn’t touch a hotel with a 10 foot pole right now. The third group would be somewhere in the middle, probably where I am at. I don’t mind the thought of staying at a hotel if there was some sort of system in place. That clearly did not happen here.
Let me know what you think of my parent’s experience in the comments. Does their hotel stay during Covid-19 make you more or less likely to stay at a hotel when restrictions are lifted in your state?