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The reopening of hotels is good news for Liverpool’s tourism industry and the businesses that rely on it – but how will the new rules and the need for social distancing affect stays in the city?
“We obviously intend to follow the guidelines but at the same time we don’t want guests to feel like they’re coming into a hospital, so it’s about finding the best way to achieve that,” he explained. “It’s important that they’re able to relax when they’re with us and we want them to feel confident enough to do that because we’ve done everything we can to make their stay safe.”
For boutique hotel Lock & Key, which opened almost three years ago, that will mean staggering check-in times, increasing regular cleaning regimes, hand sanitiser in all its 14 bedrooms and communal areas and PPE for staff.
“One of the benefits of being a smaller hotel is we do already try to be more personal in our approach, so we discuss likely check-in times with each guest before they arrive which helps us to plan. We can just formalise that a bit more now and if we think there’s going to be an overlap then we’ll advise them so we can stagger arrivals and ensure social distancing.
“We’ll pre-programme key cards and they’ll be disinfected ready for guests to pick up so we can keep our distance and we’ll have whatever PPE is needed for staff. We won’t be asking guests to wear any kind of protective equipment, even masks, though because we feel that the onus is on us to look after our guests.
“Every room already gets a full clean with every guest, but we’re looking at having more cleaning staff who are focused on the high-use areas of the front desk, bannisters, door handles. We’ll also have a member of staff concentrating on doing a final touch clean of the surfaces most likely to be touched by guests.
“All our cleaners also have an app on their phones to allow them to register when everything is completed so if a guest wants to know exactly what’s been done we can give them a checklist.
“Coming to a hotel can’t be an ordeal, we want to make guests feel comfortable and enjoy their stay and they’ve got to rely on the venue to be doing the right thing so they can relax.
“I want everyone who stays with us to leave thinking it was a break from everything that’s been going on, they didn’t have to worry and they felt safe the whole time. That’s our responsibility.”
They own The Richmond apart-hotel, which has remained open during the restrictions for key workers, and Sleep Eat Love hostel.
Steven says they’re working towards a mid-July reopening, with safety a priority.
“We are looking at introducing protective shields for staff at reception rather than any kind of face covering, and we’re trying to avoid customer-facing staff wearing masks so we’ll be focusing on two-metre distancing and high sanitisation,” he explained.
“Only our housekeeping team will be encouraged to wear face masks, because they are going into the rooms, but we will also be bringing in temperature checks for all staff when they arrive for their shifts to give us and the customers extra reassurance.”
Steven says they’re planning additional signage and floor markings to help with distancing, and they’ll be introducing takeaway and delivery in the restaurant. Breakfasts in the restaurant will be pre-booked in time slots and, anticipating an increase in demand, room service breakfasts will be adapted to a more takeaway style.
He believes online check-in could be the way to ensure that’s a smooth, safe process.
“It would be difficult for us to manage arrival times, so we’re looking at other options including checking in before arrival, like an airline, so as well as the desk option we’d have a roaming person giving out pre-sanitised keys in an envelope to everyone who’s already checked in.”
As for the city’s returning hospitality industry, Steven remains optimistic.
“As a city we’re better placed than almost any other city in the UK other than London because there is so much to do indoors and outdoors and at a very leisurely pace. In that way we’re lucky and I think that will be crucial in us bouncing back.”
We will get there Liverpool ❤️ pic.twitter.com/L0DhrLMruY
— The Guide Liverpool (@TheGuideLpool) May 10, 2020
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