With Greek tourism market opening its doors on the 15th of June, the tourist sector has started preparations to finally open for the summer season 2020. With a full list of new directions for health and safety protocols announced, there are still a lot of questions regarding the way businesses will operate safely. Of all the types of tourism businesses, the hotel industry is the most fragile at this point, as they will be the ones hosting the incoming traffic of foreign visitors. When you visit a restaurant, for example, you are only there for a couple of hours and then you are gone. Anywhere you go during your vacation your point of reference, and the place you will always return to is your hotel. So what are the main measures hotels will be taking in Santorini?
Hoteliers are worried too
Hoteliers are perhaps more worried than the travellers themselves. It is not easy to be open for business during a pandemic. Especially when you will be the place where the tourists will sleep, have breakfast, swim at the pool, have a shower and dispose or wash their mask. Everyone is hoping for higher numbers of visitors than the current forecast and also for a virus-free summer. It will be a very hard season for the staff and employers of hotels, who will try to find a balance between protecting the guests and the staff, and also letting the guests relax and the staff to do their job. Some hotels have decided not to open this year at all, and some are still thinking about their course of action. For the ones that will open, there is a series of new rules to follow in order to keep everyone healthy and happy, that will change the way we think about hotel stays.
Check-in and check out will happen as quickly as possible, preferably online and with minimum need of interaction between the front desk staff and the guests. When a guest needs something from the front desk when another guest is speaking with them, they will need to wait, either outside of the reception area (if it is a small reception) or at least 2 meters away due to social distancing. The reception desks should have a window separating the staff from the guests, and the staff should be wearing face shields at all times.
Breakfast in bed
Buffets have not been completely banned, however, there are very strict limitations if a hotel decides to have them. There will need to be members of the staff serving the visitors (so that several individuals don’t touch the same utensils) and also a sneeze guard in front of the buffet. For Santorini, with the boutique hotels operating on the caldera, this will be very difficult as it will require equipment and extra staff to manage the correct service at the buffet. The most popular approach this year will be a breakfast room service. To maintain the health protocols, the tray will need to be left outside of the room for the guests to take inside, and once they have finished with the breakfast to leave the tray outside the room again for the staff to collect.
Pool and jacuzzi
Taking measurements from the pools and jacuzzis will need to be made much more often than once per day that is the general rule. In jacuzzis specifically, the new measures require hourly measurements, to make sure that the Ph stays constantly at a level that won’t allow the virus to stay active. This is also very challenging for hotels that don’t have the automatic (and expensive) measuring system. In pools, there is a limit of 1 person per 2.5 square meters and 2-meter distance is required between the closest edges of sunbed “groups” (each group is considered to be the number of sunbeds used by people staying in the same room).
As will all restaurant businesses in Greece, the hotel restaurants too, need to have a good distance between the tables from 0.70cm to 1.70cm, depending on where the chairs are located. Menus are advised not to be in material or form that cant be disinfected after every use and the waiters and barmen need to wear at all times either a face mask (covering both the mouth and nose) or a face shield.
Cleaning the rooms will also be very different than what we are used to. The check-in and check-out times have changed to 15:00 and 11;00 respectively, in order to have enough time for thorough disinfection and ventilation of the room to take place. It is also recommended to leave the room empty for 24 or 48 hours between different guest stays if deep cleaning is not possible. The CDC says that the virus can’t contaminate surfaces for longer than 24 hours, and that, after this time, a simple cleaning will be enough to get rid of any weakened virus particles. The hotels and visitors are also advised to choose not to have a daily cleaning service. The rooms should preferably be thoroughly cleaned before and after the stay of the guests. If the guest needs to change their towels or sheets, or trash bin, then the cleaning crew would come in (with the absence of the guest) to do the necessary cleaning or replacements. This is not an absolute requirement, it is important to ask your hotel what they are planning to do though and ask them if they can operate the way you feel most comfortable with.
In the rooms, all multi-use decorative items must be removed. Say goodbye to in-room magazines and books, notepads and pens, menus and decorative covers. Controllers for TV and A/C will need to be sealed either by single-use covers or easy to clean covers (plastic or similar). All rooms must be equipped with sanitisers for the use of the guests. Minibars will most probably remain empty this season and the guest will have the option to fill it by purchasing when they need. Having fewer items in the room would make cleaning easier and safer for the next guests.
There are definitely more details and several main aspects that the protocols require or suggest, which are not possible to cover over a short article. If you have booked a hotel for this summer, or are thinking of spending some time under the Greek sun, make sure to reach out to them and ask them if they are opening and what their Covid19 approach will be. It is important for people to travel and leave behind the bad days of the pandemic. It must happen but should happen carefully, as the virus is not behind us yet. If you choose to travel, do it responsibly, take care of yourselves and keep distances. This way you will also be able to be relaxed and feel safe far from home! Enjoy your Greek summer!