There are so many things I wonder about in the post-COVID world. I still haven’t gotten on an airplane since March and don’t have any tickets booked. My friend Mike who writes the Coworkaholic blog took a road trip from Chicago to Orlando this week. He stopped at two different Hyatt Place properties on the way. Here’s what he found.
It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea of traveling in a post-COVID world. And almost as long to put my thoughts together on my first experience. For over 5 years it was normal for me to stay at 50+ different hotels or rental properties a year. So, while I was yearning to get back on the road after 90+ days sheltering in place at home, I was concerned about doing so responsibly.
Before leaving, I still didn’t think the United States is currently a place where traveling purely for pleasure is something you should do. Unless you are opting for road trips and socially distant nature related activities. I recently bought a car, and opted to drive, rather than fly to Orlando, FL. My purpose being to house hunt as part of a relocation to there later this summer.
1,100 miles and a week in hotels later, I stand by my initial gut feelings. In no part due to any issues I witnessed with businesses, but purely with our fellow man. To travel and to partake in activities like theme parks, pools, beaches, restaurants, etc requires a higher level of responsibility that many seem to not want to bear.
So far on this trip, I have stayed at two Hyatt Place properties. One in Louisville (East) and the other at Orlando/Lake Buena Vista. Both had hand sanitizer stations at the front desk and elevators. The Louisville property had plastic shields in place and had moved the credit card terminal onto a stand, enabling social distance. Human nature being what it is, habits are hard to break. The front desk agent (wearing a mask) still reached for my ID even as I was holding it in a manner to show, not hand it over.
In Louisville, the agent also proactively prepared me for a limited breakfast offering and apologized for the pool and gym being closed. In the morning they had bags with trail mix, a granola bar and a fruit cup…but no spoon to eat with.
When checking into the Orlando property, I noticed a far more casual take. No masks on any staff. No shields. Handing over forms for me to sign and not following proper distance. The pool? Open! The hot tub? Bubbling! The gym? Still no. Their breakfast offering was a welcome improvement, but isn’t adequately stocked. Because no one follows the rules, it was empty by 7:45am one morning and took longer to get restocked then it did for me to go to Starbucks down the street.
All in all, these two properties were following their minimum state requirements. On Hyatt’s website it mentions providing face covering for all employees, so I’m not sure where the disconnect there is for the Orlando property. The hotels were all in fine shape and appeared to be quite clean. Tables were pulled aside to limit seating. Sanitizer was flowing. But, that is not the issue. The issue is our behavior.
I’m not a doctor, but I do have a doctor and I follow his instructions. Until everyone gets comfortable with wearing masks in public and truly following social distancing, I don’t think I’m going to be all that comfortable traveling.
The Final Two Pennies
To Hyatt’s credit, they reached out to me shortly after this story went live. A Hyatt spokesperson shared the following with me:
The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is always a top priority. At this time, in light of COVID-19 and with the safety and wellbeing of our guests and colleagues in mind, Hyatt requires colleagues to wear face masks – and additional personal protective equipment based on job specifications – at all Hyatt hotels globally. Guests are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and practice proper social distancing in hotel public areas. In some locations, based on local government ordinances, guests may be required to wear face coverings in hotel public areas.
I am glad to see Hyatt is concerned that their properties aren’t complying with the new standards.
I appreciate Mike sharing his recent experience with me. I have some thoughts about what hotel breakfast will look like over the next few months/years. I’m hoping to get some time this weekend to share those thoughts with you.
I imagine we’re going to see wildly different reactions from hotels and also hotel chains in terms of what will be provided. More importantly, it will be interesting to see what the chains will enforce when properties don’t provide benefits to loyal customers.
As an aside, Mike also stopped at Universal Orlando to see what the theme park world looks like right now. It’s an interesting read.
What’s important to you right now in regards to a hotel breakfast? If you are traveling, do you want a “regular” breakfast or would you prefer something safer?
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