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10 Things You Won’t See in Hotels Anymore

As hotels look to welcome guests in a post-coronavirus world, measures to improve cleanliness and limit contact are top of mind.

Businessman leaving lobby with luggage, rear viewDavid Sacks/Getty Images

The future of hotels

Travel and tourism were among the sectors hardest hit by the stay-at-home measures put in place in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. By some estimates, the industry worldwide is projected to lose $1.2 trillion. With some countries and states relaxing guidelines about which businesses can open, hotels are looking forward to welcoming guests once again, though your next stay may look a bit different than the last time you checked in. “We are living in a new age, with COVID-19 front and center for our guests and our associates,” Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, the parent company of Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, Sheraton, and more, said in a press release. How you arrive at your destination will look different, too, as airlines implement post-coronavirus practices.

Businesspeople checking in to hotel in the lobbyKlaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Front desk check-ins

The more people you come into contact with, the greater the potential for exchanging germs, so you can expect to see fewer points of contact in hotels. That includes the traditional check-ins at a front desk with a living and breathing hotel employee, where you’re handed a map of the property and other promotional materials. In its place, more and more hotels will be promoting mobile check-ins via smartphones. Mobile check-ins are already available at 3,200 Marriott hotels around the world, as well as at select IHG and Hyatt properties. You can expect to see that number climb in the near future. If and when you do a check-in at the front desk, there may be a partition between you and the hotel representative, similar to the ones at banks. Find out 13 everyday habits that could (and should) change post-coronavirus.

Entering a hotel room with electronic lock and keycardMichael Kai/Getty Images

Key cards

You won’t just be checking in with your phone—you’ll be able to use it as your key to open your door. These “smart keys” are already in place at some Disney resorts, Marriotts, IHG hotels, and Hyatt properties via their respective apps. Find out what “smart hotels” mean for your privacy.

No Vacancy Hotel Or Motel Neon SignZachary Byer/Getty Images

Sold out hotels

Like restaurants in the post-coronavirus age, hotels will be limiting their capacity for quite some time. The Eden Roc at Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, for example, now caps off its guest occupancy rate at 30 percent. Make sure you know these 15 things you should never, ever do in your hotel room.

Close-Up Of Containers On Wall In BathroomXrrth Choti Thaen Sila / EyeEm/Getty Images

Bulk-size shampoo and conditioner

Once you get into your room, you may notice it looks a little different, too, like items that would normally be used by a guest who stays in the room after you will now be removed or replaced. For one, those bulk-size shampoos and conditioners that many hotels swapped over to in an effort to be eco-friendly may be phased out. In its place, you may see those mini shampoo bottles, an amenity that was slowly disappearing from hotels, make a resurgence.

A full mini bar in a hotel roomBilly Hustace/Getty Images

In-room coffee machines and minibars

As hotels aim to reduce the number of “high-touch points,” aka items that guests frequently touch, in-room coffee machines and minibars are likely to be removed from rooms, reports The Points Guy. Besides, minibars were already on their way out. A new in-room amenity will be showing up at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, a “Lead With Care kit containing masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitization wipes, with additional masks supplied on request.

Young businessman commutes to workSDI Productions/Getty Images

Complimentary lobby coffee

More bad news for those who need to be perked up before they wake up: That early morning complimentary self-serve coffee station in the lobby will likely no longer be commonplace. It creates an opportunity for too much touching of the same items by different people—the lever on the dispenser as you fill your cup and the handle of the carafe as you pour in the milk, to name a few. The same goes for coolers of water or lemonade where you fill your own cups. Now more than ever, it’s important to know the red flags you’re about to stay at a bad hotel.

BartenderAntonio Busiello/Getty Images

Free happy hours

Kimpton Hotels, in particular, are famous for their nightly happy hours, where guests are encouraged to enjoy a free glass of wine or a cocktail and mingle in the lounge. In the age of social distancing, this type of congregating in hotels’ public spaces won’t be encouraged.

Breakfast buffet in Hotel in MoscowVostok/Getty Images

Buffets

Buffets with shared utensils guests use to self-serve are questionably clean on the best of days; now with COVID-19, they are verboten. What you may see instead is a masked and gloved server standing behind the buffet waiting to serve you those scrambled eggs and cut-up fruit. Find out why hotel breakfasts are called “continental.”

ImagineGolf/Getty Images

Crowded pools

The good news is, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there’s no evidence COVID-19 can be spread to others in a pool that is properly maintained. The area around it is another story, which is why hotels may be limiting access to its pools or, as The Palms Turks and Caicos is doing, reducing the number of lounge chairs at its pools and spreading out umbrellas and chairs more on the beach. “I anticipate an increased desire in our pool cabanas, which offer privacy for families or small groups and will keep them guarded from others,” Karen Whitt, vice president of marketing for The Palms, tells Reader’s Digest. These are some of the things you won’t find at restaurants anymore.

Man paying with credit card, close-upWestend61/Getty Images

Paper bills at checkout

As hotels aim to reduce interaction between employees and guests, you’ll likely be encouraged to self-checkout online or via the hotel’s app. And that means no more paper bills at checkout for you to review, though copies will be available online and via email.

Cleaning sink with spongeshironosov/Getty Images

Will see: Hospital-grade disinfectants

While you won’t see the above items, you will see a few new things, including increased cleaning measures. Marriott, for one, reports, “In public spaces, the company has added to its already rigorous cleaning protocols, requiring that surfaces are thoroughly treated with hospital-grade disinfectants and that this cleaning is done with increased frequency.” Those same hospital-grade disinfectants will be used to clean inside guest rooms, as well. Hyatt is working with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) on an accreditation process to ensure its properties are clean and safe, while the Four Seasons is collaborating with Johns Hopkins Medicine International on updated healthy and safety measures. Find out the 13 things hotels aren’t cleaning as they should.

westin hotel cleaning robotvia tripadvisor.com

Will see: High-tech cleaning measures

You can expect to see more Germ-Zapping Robots, like the one at The Westin Houston Medical Center, the first and only hotel in the country that currently has the technology, according to The Points Guy. The robots zap germs via UV light technology. Marriott is also experimenting with electrostatic spraying technology to rapidly clean guest rooms, lobbies, fitness centers, and more with CDC-recommended disinfectants. The Four Seasons will have black light inspections of each guest room after cleaning to ensure it has been thoroughly sanitized. Even with these upgraded cleaning measures, you’ll want to practice caution, especially when interacting with these 11 dirtiest spots in hotel rooms.

For more on this developing situation, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.

Anne L. Fritz
Anne L. Fritz is a freelance writer, editor and mom of two based in Stamford, CT. Prior to launching her freelance career, Anne worked for Woman's Day, Life & Style, Seventeen, EverydayHealth.com and more. You can find more of her musings on motherhood and more at Forever35.net.

Fritz is on a lifelong hunt for the fountain of youth. She's convinced her two young kids, who won't let her sit down for longer than five mintues at a time, are it. Or maybe it's karma paying her back.