RIU Hotels & Resorts says it has been working for several weeks to create a total of 17 protocols that will serve to guide operations in the hotels when they reopen post-COVID.
They give details of each hotel department’s work in order to offer the highest guarantees of safety to guests and staff. The departments that from now on will apply the new measures in their everyday work include Reception, Housekeeping (cleaning), Dining Rooms, Bars, Kitchens, Confectionery, Goods Reception, Technical Service Centre, Industrial Zones, Staff Areas, Staff Transport, Fitness and Entertainment. In this way, they can manage the reopening process in a comprehensive way that covers aspects from limiting the occupancy of the hotel and each of its areas, to the correct dosage of tried and tested virucidal products.
These protocols have been created by RIU professionals in collaboration with Preverisk Group, an international consultancy specialising in health and safety advice, auditing and training in the tourist industry. The partnership has produced this set of protocols that offer specific, practical solutions for all the different areas of the hotels.
The next step will be to create a network, constituted as a broad alliance in the sector, in order to share and disseminate this knowledge among all the sector players who want it, given that we are all now working with the shared goal of recovering our activities safely and earning the customers’ trust in the destinations and businesses. As part of this alliance, all participants will also have access to training modules developed by Preverisk, which will explain the implementation of the recommended measures. These protocols are already in the hands of Spanish and international regional governments, as well as TUI Group, for their oversight.
Staff training is an essential part of these protocols, as it ensures that all employees know what they need to know in order to act appropriately in every task they undertake in their role. Another key part of this plan’s success is monitoring staff and ensuring they only attend their place of work if they are in good health, as well as ensuring that no members of staff who belong to risk groups are in charge of hazardous jobs such as cleaning items or areas with suspected cases of COVID-19.
Measures in Reception
The protocols break down the new measures in great detail, covering for example, the limitation to hotel occupancy of 50 or 60% (or the local restrictions, if lower), checking guests’ temperature on arrival, the gradual implementation of web check-in to reduce handling physical documents as much as possible, the installation of safety screens at reception desks, respecting safe distances and using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) among employees, disinfecting work stations and equipment at the end of every day, as well as encouraging guests to use the hotel app to search for information and opening hours, again as a way of avoiding handling documents. The check-out time will be brought forward to 11:00, while check-in is delayed until 16:00 to allow time for the new room cleaning measures. In the lobbies, the information stand screens will no longer be interactive; rather, the information will be displayed on a loop.
Rooms and Cleaning
In the rooms, all non-essential items will be removed, such as coffee machines, magazines, leaflets and laundry bags. Amenities are also reduced to only the essential, and a hand sanitizer gel will be included in every room.
Employees will follow the protocol to prevent cross-contamination when cleaning rooms, with a system arising from RIU’s 65 years of experience. This includes using three cloths of different colours, which are changed for each room and are used to clean the terrace, room and bathroom separately, in that order. The use of tried and tested virucidal products will be introduced, and the use of PPE will be compulsory for all staff. In addition, frequently handled items, such as television remote controls, telephones, handles, doors and curtains, will be disinfected every day, and all the surfaces in the rooms will be sprayed with a virucidal product on check-out, leaving the safe time recommended by the product manufacturer between cleaning and the next guest’s entry.
A “disinfection team” will also be created in each hotel, which will specialise in cleaning rooms occupied by people with confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus. If potential patients cannot be transferred to a hospital, a specific area of the hotel is reserved where strict measures will govern the assignation and occupancy of rooms, as well as cleaning.
RIU is firmly committed to maintaining its buffets, because they are a characteristic part of its package, and one that is highly valued by customers. To do this, safety measures will be implemented that both guests and employees must follow. Lunch and dinner sittings will be arranged, the restaurants’ seating capacity will be reduced and it will be compulsory to disinfect your hands on entry. All guests must wear gloves and mask to go to the buffet, which will now contain more individual portions, more packaged products and more live cooking. An even stricter routine will be implemented to monitor temperatures and change serving utensils, as well as staff distancing and hygiene measures. The tables will be covered with single-use tablecloths, the cutlery will be provided at the tables and the seats will be assigned respecting safe distances and avoiding transit areas, among other measures.
Pools and Technical Services
Pools will have capacity limits, there will be safe distances between lounge chairs and umbrellas, and cards will no longer be needed to exchange wet towels after bathing. The frequency of cleaning the pool and jacuzzi areas will be increased, and water disinfectant products that are appropriate to the current situation will be used. Personal protection measures will also be respected, as staff will wear masks and gloves.
The functions of the maintenance staff will expand to include ensuring the correct functioning of air conditioning systems and disinfecting and inspecting the scouring train and wash tunnels, and their work tools will be disinfected after each use.
These examples are a few highlights taken from the new protocols, but there are many more actions that involve suppliers, transporters and distributors, which cover the use of lifts or how the bathrooms in communal areas are used, as well as new measures to be applied by the staff in Bar, Kitchens and Entertainment.
RIU has stepped up to this task with a view to leading the overhaul of all the hotel work processes, an essential task if we are to ensure maximum safety in the hotels following the outbreak of this health crisis. The work will undergo constant review, in line with the development of the pandemic, how it is being handled and the emergence of effective products and rules to fight against its spread. The chain’s aspiration is to get back to action as soon as possible and offer all the guarantees within its reach. The chain is experiencing the worst crisis the sector has ever faced, having closed all 99 hotels in 19 countries, but it is now focusing on the work it needs to do to restart operations and welcome back its workforce.