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7 Ways a Hotel Stay Has Changed During the Pandemic

Take a look at how the hotel industry is responding to the challenges of the pandemic, and implementing new measures for the health and safety of guests and staff.

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Marriott Commitment to Clean - front desk transparent barrierPhoto: Marriott

Masks are a must

Although mask-wearing has become second-nature for most Canadians since March 2020, this one bears repeating. From the moment you step into the hotel lobby to the second you’ve flipped the lock on your suite, you’ll have to wear a face mask. You won’t be the only one, of course—hotel staff will also be donning personal protective equipment (PPE). As an added safeguard at check-in and check-out, front desk staff at hotels like the Courtyard Burlington—the newest upscale hotel in Ontario’s Burlington/Oakville region—are further separated from guests by a transparent partition.

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Marriott CF Eaton Centre guest roomPhoto: Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre

You could have a “contact-free” check-in

By downloading the Marriott Bonvoy app, you have the option for mobile check-in at as many as 59% of Marriott’s Canadian hotels. At some Marriott locations, including the Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, the app itself works as a room key—meaning you can bypass conventional face-to-face check-in entirely. Here, the app also allows you to order room service or request other amenities to your suite, all without touching the phone in your room.

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Marriott Commitment to Clean - electrostatic sprayerPhoto: Marriott

They’ve doubled-down on disinfecting

Back in April 2020, Marriott announced the introduction of a “Commitment to Clean” program of enhanced cleaning protocols. Not only do these entail an increased frequency of cleaning—think high-touch surfaces including door handles, escalator handrails and elevator buttons—but also the use of hospital-grade disinfectants throughout suites and public areas. One of the most impressive weapons in the hotel chain’s virus-fighting arsenal is the futuristic-looking electrostatic sprayer (above), used to sanitize public areas.

“Safety for our guests and associates has always been a top priority for Marriott and today that discussion of safety is in the context of COVID-19,” says Ray Bennett, Chief Global Officer, Global Operations at Marriott International. “We want our guests to know that we are doing everything we can to welcome them back to a safe and clean hotel environment when they start travelling again.”

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Westin Bayshore VancouverPhoto: Westin Bayshore Vancouver

The lobby will look a little different

Hotel lobbies have been redesigned with social distancing in mind. You’ll likely find furniture in all public areas reduced to a minimum to discourage lingering, as well as plenty of signage to ensure guests keep at least two metres apart while waiting in line. What’s more, with hotels like The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, installing hand sanitizing stations in high-traffic zones including entrances, front desks and elevator bays, you’re never more than a few steps away from freshly-sanitized hands.

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Marriott Commitment to Clean - elevator buttonsPhoto: Marriott

You might have to wait for an elevator

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels across Canada including The Westin Ottawa, have implemented limits on the number of passengers allowed in their elevators. Depending on the size of the elevator car (and the number of people in your social bubble), that number may be restricted to two or three passengers at a time. Although this generally won’t affect access between your suite and hotel amenities on different floors, it may result in a lineup to use the elevator during peak times. Guests who request a lower floor also have the option of taking the stairs if they prefer.

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Marriott Courtyard Burlington swimming poolPhoto: Marriott Courtyard Burlington

You may have to schedule your swim

Although most hotel pools remain open for guests during the pandemic (and there’s no evidence COVID-19 can be spread in a properly maintained pool), a bit of planning may be required before you take a refreshing dip. At hotels like the Burlington Courtyard, access to the pool is limited to a certain number of guests at a time, and other hotels are requiring guests to reserve a specific swim time with the front desk.

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Marriott Courtyard Burlington suitePhoto: Marriott Courtyard Burlington

Some things have vanished from hotel rooms

Although mini-bars have all but disappeared from hotel rooms over the past decade, the pandemic has seen the elimination of mini-fridges as well. If you were planning on enjoying some frosty beverages during your stay, you might want to consider packing them in a cooler. Make sure it’s filled with plenty of ice, too—access to the hotel ice machine is also limited in response to COVID-19.