Planning to travel? Hotels in Virginia cautiously reopening

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – As Virginia moves closer to entering Phase 3 of the reopening process, many who remained indoors during the state’s stay-at-home order may soon be ready to travel.

“It’ll be a much different experience when people go into a hotel now,” said Eric Terry, President of the Virginia Restaurant, Travel & Lodging Association.

According to Terry, about 2,200 hotels span the state and about 150 hotels have closed as a result of COVID-19.

“Hotels have really been devastated by this,” Terry said.

The Safe Stay Initiative was created by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and was launched nationwide to provide various cleaning protocols and cleanliness standards for hotels and their guests.

Delta Hotels by Marriott Richmond just reopened almost one week ago. General Manager Scott Jones says the team spent the time closed planning to reopen.

“We take this very, very seriously,” Jones said. “We want to make sure our customers know this is a safe environment. We want them to feel comfortable as they return to travel.”

When guests enter the hotel, they’ll plexiglass and reminders to social distance. The hotel is offering technology-driven alternatives. For example, guests can do a mobile check-in option and use a digital key to get into their room.

Crews are constantly cleaning and Jones says his hotel is making sure those efforts are visible. There are also hand sanitizers placed throughout the hotel, specifically in high touch areas.

“We ask our guests before you push the button on the elevator, make sure you sanitize your hands good,” Jones said.

When guests check out, rooms will be deep cleaned and left vacant for up to 72 hours.

At this time, pools and gyms are also temporarily closed. Jones says when Virginia enters Phase 3, those amenities could potentially open.

8News asked Terry if hotels can continue to charge the same prices they did before COVID-19 protocols were put into place.

Terry responded with, “We’ve already seen our average daily rate drop significantly, almost $40 a night and I think one of the things we’re trying to figure out is because a lot of these new cleanliness standards are going to cost quite a bit for hotels so how do they afford that? And it’s going to be a balancing act – I think.”

He adds hotels are working to gain consumer confidence. He says things may not be back to normal for another year or so. In the meantime, however, staff are working to train hotel employees to ensure they know how to properly interact with guests.

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