After more than three months of lockdown guests will finally be able to return to hotels across Northern Ireland from July 3, however the experience will be a far cry from what it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.
From hand sanitisers and screens to a novel disinfectant ‘fogging’ system, one of Belfast’s most popular hotels is pulling out all the stops to ensure they are ready for the new normal.
The Clayton Hotel has been accommodating key workers throughout the pandemic, such as healthcare staff, which General Manager Jonathan Topping has said has allowed them to better prepare for reopening to the general public.
“We think it’s very important that it’s a hospitality experience, not a hospital experience. We want our guests to feel comfortable and safe when they come back, so we’ve done a lot in preparation for that,” he said.
“We’ve been working right the way through [with guests], so we’ve been able to understand what their concerns are and make sure we can provide a safe experience for them. For example, our staff are now fully trained with personal protective equipment (PPE), so masks, visors and gloves and understanding when they have to use those.
“It is very important that we provide our staff with a safe environment, because they are the ones who then provide the experience to our guests. If they feel safe, our guests will feel safe.”
Guests will be able to check in and check out online in order to reduce contact and rooms will be disinfected via a fog system, which takes only three minutes to thoroughly clean each room.
Housekeeping staff will then service each room before it is fogged again and sealed with a sticker over the door, ensuring peace of mind for guests that their room has been sanitised before entry.
“The whole hotel is then fogged overnight, so every morning you can come into a sanitised environment. Again, this is all about giving confidence to our guests that this is a safe place to come into,” Mr Topping said.
Screens have also been erected at the Clayton’s reception desk, coffee dock and bar, while hand sanitising stations have been placed throughout the building.
Mr Topping said the hotel, which has 170 rooms, will be able to run at around 70% capacity upon reopening, however he expects around 40 to 50 rooms to be occupied throughout July.
“We have done a lot of work in forecasting what our business is going to look like over the next three to six months, just in terms of bringing staff back and it’ll be a slow process to get back to the levels we were at previously,” he said.
“But I think we will get there, maybe not this year, but towards the middle of next year.”