HEI Hotels & Resorts Implements New Operating Procedures in Response to COVID-19
By Rachel Moniz Executive Vice President of Operations, HEI Hotels & Resorts | July 12, 2020
Cleaning and sanitation have always been a foundational element in hotels; clean crisp sheets, an abundance of fresh towels, daily housekeeping service, toiletries arranged in just the right way…all the soft touches have always been a part of the guest experience. That was earlier in the year. Today when we think about cleaning and sanitation we are talking about "hospital grade" disinfectants, following CDC guidelines, new cleaning devices, we are referencing countless documents relative to sanitation from Ecolab, to AHLA to all of the brands and more in order to put together the best possible training programs and materials for our people. Today, cleaning is about being safe.
We knew there would be a demand for new disinfectant technology so we moved quickly to secure Electrostatic sprayers so we wouldn't run into a supply issue down the road. We mandated our hotels to order Electrostatic sprayers in early April and even being one of the first movers in this regard, we didn't receive the sprayers until June. Clients want to know what we are doing in this regard, they need to know their attendees will be safe. Clients, meeting planners, decision-makers, and individual guests are asking questions about cleanliness standards.
Our property teams have been highly proactive in finding ways to share our sanitizing practices to put guests at ease when they are ready to travel and select a hotel. Our property Sales teams and General Managers have given us feedback that cleaning protocols are a point of differentiation and can inform a client's decision on whether or not to book a hotel.
Our corporate training team has assembled our SOP's and put them into a digital training course that all of our associates are required to take before returning to work. For active associates, we rolled out an initial COVID-19 training in March and have since updated in May when we mandated the second training course. In just two months we learned more, there was more information provided and we needed to move quickly to ensure our teams on the ground had everything they needed to keep our hotels safe for each other and our guests. Our training goes beyond the classroom and into the guest rooms, kitchens, public areas.
Following the course, all associates are provided individualized training by the operations leadership team in our hotels on exactly what is expected – from high touch guest areas to our own heart of house procedures relative to sanitation. Of course with any training, we reinforce the need to practice social distancing, wear PPE which we provide, and to stay home if you are sick. We also temperature check our associates daily as all of these proactive preventative measures lend themselves to safety.
Our cleaning procedures are very detailed, essentially the general rule is if it can be touched, it needs to be sanitized before it is touched again or thrown out. We have developed procures for linen handling, with single use bags, disinfected linen carts with single-use liners, we removed all decorative items from the room (i.e. decorative pillows), and have placed seals and/or covers on all convenience items from the remote controls to coffee makers. There is no glassware, instead single-use disposable pre-wrapped cups, we have single-use in-room dining menus and between guests, all rooms are electrostatically disinfected. We have specific procedures for linen processing and where we outsource laundry services, we have contacted all of our vendors to certify they have procedures in place that meet our expectations.