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Why you might not get housekeeping service during your next hotel stay

June 11, 2020
7 min read
Why you might not get housekeeping service during your next hotel stay
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In a world reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic, the greatest luxury of all at a hotel may be the peace of mind that comes with knowing it's clean and safe.

As travelers begin to trickle back into hotels across the country, they're finding an experience that's quite different than it was before the global health crisis, with a heavy emphasis on cleanliness, sanitization and social distancing.

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In the past couple of months, we've seen all four major hotel brands announce enhanced cleaning protocols in both public areas and guest rooms that are designed to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

Almost ironically, part of the industry's enhanced cleaning efforts likely means the suspension of daily housekeeping in guest rooms.

(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

This shift follows guidance from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which says that, "In anticipation of individual concerns of guests, housekeeping should not enter a guest room during a stay unless specifically requested, or approved, by the guest, or to comply with established safety protocols. Housekeeping should maintain the practice of cleaning and disinfecting rooms thoroughly following check-out."

Related: Hotel CEOs discuss the future of travel

Implementing the enhanced cleaning protocols requires a large amount of resources -- time, people and, of course, money -- so the general consensus in the industry is that foregoing daily cleaning of rooms in favor of more time- and labor-intensive cleans between guests is the smarter course of action.

As hotels shift their resources to this new model, it's caught some guests by surprise. In the TPG Lounge, readers are largely supportive of these changes, though they wish hotels would be more communicative of their specific policies to minimize confusion.

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(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

Lounge member Shara F. shared her experience during a recent stay at the Embassy Suites at San Antonio Riverwalk. She said they didn't receive any information about procedure changes before checking in. "The next day, we came back and [our] room had not been serviced. They explained when I called that they were servicing only every three days in longer stays. I'm fine with that -- just wanted to know! They brought up towels and coffee."

Major chains say their customers are generally in favor of this change. Best Western hotels cited feedback from its customers showing concern over the spread of the virus, and that keeping housekeepers out of rooms during a stay is preferred. The chain said housekeeping will still be available by request, but this way guests don't have to worry about cleaning crew entering their room day after day.

Marriott, too, has said its guests like the idea of less-frequent but more-intense cleanings. Ray Bennett, chief global officer for Marriott, told CNBC that "more and more of [Marriott's] guests have actually asked that [housekeeping doesn't] come in their room ... And so, [it is] reducing the level of frequency as it relates to housekeeping, based on guest feedback."

Hilton is allowing customers to decide what level of interaction they want with housekeepers, and offering guests three different "packages" of housekeeping: a traditional, daily service; a "light option" that occurs every other day and just provides new towels, new amenities and empties the trash; or no service at all, which would be the option for those who prefer to not have any housekeepers in their rooms during a stay.

It's an issue of available labor, as well. These enhanced cleaning protocols require more time and effort to complete to a high standard, but many hotels are faced with reduced staff as hotels continue to run at low capacity or in some cases are closed altogether. Fewer housekeepers simply cannot complete both daily cleans and those that happen after a guest checks out, especially given that many of these deep cleans don't happen until 24 to 72 hours after a guest departs in order to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

Rethinking design

The focus of these enhanced deep cleans is on high-touch areas throughout the room such as television remotes, thermostats, faucets, door handles and more. Thus, hotels are may remove certain items in guest rooms including decorative elements of the bedding that are not essential to the room and require much more effort to clean between each stay.

Hyatt's senior vice president of global operations, Frank Lavey, said the chain is "considering the removal of other decorative items in the guest room, such as decorative pillows and throws."

And a spokesperson for Marriott said the removal of decorative pillows and throws from guest rooms is included in its practices outlined in its Commitment to Clean program.

You probably won't see the signature faux-fur throw at your upcoming stay at an Edition property. (Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)
You probably won't see the signature faux-fur throw at your upcoming stay at an Edition property. (Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

TPG spoke with Roxana Heretz-Hayda, who's spent more than 30 years in the hotel industry, with titles including director of housekeeping and manager of property operations at properties in New York City and around the world.

Heretz-Hayda believes hotels will have to rethink the design of guest rooms going forward, saying they may have to "be more sleek and 'modern' with easy-to-clean surfaces."

"It can be done beautifully," she said, "but it may be a challenge for hotels without creative interior designers and architects to provide luxury and comfort rather than sterile guest rooms and public areas. [Slipcovers] instead of upholstery and replacing duvets with washable blankets in coverlets may also be ... the future of hotel guest rooms.

She added that, "Running hotels at less-than-full occupancy so that housekeeping teams can spend more time deep cleaning guest rooms should be a priority."

In the future, it's easy to envision hotels -- especially high-end properties -- focusing less on the accouterments adorning the room and more on creating an aesthetic based in the materials used rather than the "extras" added for flair.

Bottom line

We've known for quite some time that, following the COVID-19 pandemic, future hotel stays will look different -- at least in the short term. If you're someone who looks forward to having your room cleaned daily and discovering chocolates on your pillow at night, be prepared: Depending on the property you choose, there's a very real possibility you won't have your room cleaned for the duration of your stay. And, unfortunately, that means no pillow chocolates or turned-down duvet corners.

All photos by the author.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees