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How do you know if your hotel room is really clean amid coronavirus?

Friday, May 29, 2020  
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How do you know if your hotel room is really clean amid coronavirus?

USA Today - May 29, 2020

It's almost impossible to find a hotel that hasn't introduced a new sanitation program, promising its rooms are squeaky clean and will be coronavirus-free. How do you know if your hotel room is really clean?

"It's difficult to distinguish between legitimate cleaning efforts and public relations," says Sheryl Kline, a professor at the University of Delaware who has researched hotel hygiene. "Anyone can do a visual inspection, and it can look clean. Just because it looks clean does not necessarily mean that it is clean."

Hotels have standard room-cleaning practices, which have been upgraded since the pandemic. But there is no universally accepted way to clean a hotel guest room, says Kline.

"Typically, cleanliness is based on visual inspection. This provides an aesthetic evaluation but not an assessment of the possibility of microbial contamination," she adds.

That hasn't stopped the hotel industry from trying to set standards during the pandemic. Consulting experts, a visual inspection, and taking quick action if you're in a place that doesn't meet your expectation can ensure that you stay in a clean room.

Cleaning programs by hotel:Hotels, resorts announce new cleaning programs amid coronavirus

How do you stay safe?

Last month, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) introduced an industrywide program called Safe Stay, which created new hotel post-coronavirus safety standards. Safe Stay hotels have "enhanced" cleaning standards throughout the hotel, use cleaning products with a higher concentration of bacteria-killing ingredients and encourage their staff to practice social distancing. The initiative will "ensure greater transparency and confidence" for guests, according to Chip Rogers, president of AHLA.

But how do you know if your hotel room is actually clean? It's not that easy, say experts.

"There is no road map and, frankly, no 100% agreement on the science and health concerns," says Carolyn Richmond, a partner at Fox Rothschild's Hospitality Practice Group. "While guests certainly want to see that cleaning policies and other protective measures have been taken, it has to be more than just window dressing."

Many hotels are going beyond the new industry standards. For example, the Salishan Resort, a golf hotel on the Oregon coast, has introduced stringent new cleaning measures. They include new health screenings for employees and the installation of touchless processes to reduce direct interaction with guests whenever possible.

"We've even created fitness guest rooms with their own dedicated, sanitized Peloton and TRX workout equipment," says Ken Cruse, president of SCP Hotels, which owns the Salishan Resort.

How do you know the hotel room is virus-free?

But then how do you know if a hotel room is clean? You can ask an expert. Travel agents keep lists of the cleanest hotels, based on their inspections and familiarity with properties.

"Our agency has a list of preferred hotels in each city based on past cleanliness, current mandatory hygiene precautions and following updated virus regulations," says Sangeeta Sadarangani, CEO of Crossing, a multi-national travel agency headquartered in London.

For example, hotels that have already started accepting guests in Hong Kong are following a weekly deep-clean policy. They're using sanitizing sprays in the rooms. Restaurant staff use gloves and face masks, even when they aren't on duty. Linens and towels are changed daily.

Guests and experts also recommend that you read hotel reviews from a variety of sources, including travel review sites, blogs and social media. Don't limit yourself to just one source.

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