An inside look at how Hilton is cleaning hotel rooms between guests
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Travel companies are rapidly adapting to meet health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. While North American cruising remains almost completely shut down, airlines have implemented new cleaning procedures and social distancing policies. Even vacation rental platforms are promoting enhanced cleaning protocols, including buffer periods between stays.
It should come as no surprise then that hotels have also rolled out new standards and protocols to combat the spread of the virus. After all, hotel rooms welcome countless guests and have dozens of touchpoints, from faucets to light switches to TV remotes and more, that could act as spreaders of disease.
While all of the major hotel chains now require guests to wear face coverings, the cleaning procedures vary from brand to brand.
Among the first hotels to outline its new standards was Hilton, which partnered with RB — the manufacturer of Lysol — and Mayo Clinic’s Infection Prevention and Control team to launch the Hilton CleanStay initiative. When first launched, a Hilton spokesperson told TPG that the program was intended to build on the chain’s “already high standards of housekeeping and hygiene, with an increased focus on cleanliness that will be visible to guests throughout their entire stay – in guest rooms, restaurants, fitness rooms and in other public spaces.”
We got to see the CleanStay program in action with an inside look at how Hilton is cleaning its rooms and common areas in the pandemic world. Our behind-the-scenes tour took place at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport, but you can expect the same standard of cleanliness and sanitization at Hilton properties worldwide.
Here’s what we found.
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Immediately upon entering the hotel, guests were greeted by placards reminding them that face masks are required. As with the rest of the signage throughout the hotel, there’s a QR code that guests could scan to learn more about the CleanStay program.
The front desk area looked largely the same. There were new decals on the floor reminding guests to maintain distance, as well as another sign about face coverings.
Hilton Honors members who booked direct could skip the front desk and get a digital room key through Hilton’s mobile app. Unlike Hyatt, Marriott and IHG, Hilton doesn’t require guests who use mobile check-in to stop by the front desk and verify their IDs.
Throughout the hotel were signs reminding guests to wear their masks and practice social distancing. Additionally, Hilton has increased the frequency of cleaning public areas. Unlike in the past when these areas were cleaned primarily overnight, housekeeping personnel is much more visible now during the day.
Related: Hotels requiring masks
High-traffic areas like the elevator bank had stations with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Additionally, there were “elevator etiquette” signs reminding guests of social distancing and good hygiene practices.
Both the fitness center and pool were open and operational. However, they’re cleaned more frequently now and capacity may sometimes be limited.
Again, there were signs reminding guests to practice social distancing. There were also disinfectant wipes and other cleaning supplies for guests to wipe down equipment before and after use. Towels were still available.
Up to eight people were allowed to be at the pool area at a time. The whirlpool was closed at this property, but that was due to state regulations, not Hilton’s policy.
The hotel’s airport shuttle bus had signs about social distancing and capacity could be limited. It was also equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for the driver to wipe down touchpoints between rides.
At this property, food was only available to-go. Sit-down dining and room service were not available. Yet again, there were signs reminding guests about face coverings and floor markers for distancing.
As expected, the most noticeable changes were in the rooms.
Every room is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guests. Staff do not enter to clean rooms during stays unless specifically requested. Amenities like fresh towels and extra toiletries are available upon request and delivered in protective packaging.
The enhanced guest room cleaning process includes a deep cleaning of 10 high-touch areas:
- Switches and electronic controls
- Handles and knobs
- Major bathroom surfaces
- Climate control panels
- Telephones, remote controls and clocks
- Bed and bedding
- Bath amenities
- Hard surfaces
- Closet goods
- Major kitchen/wet bar surfaces
The deep cleaning was a two-stage process. Everything was sprayed with a disinfectant and wiped down with Lysol disinfecting wipes, which have been approved by the EPA to kill the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The room smelled clean, without an overpowering chemical odor.
No detail was forgotten. From light switches to the safe handle to the iron in the closet, everything you could possibly need to touch was sanitized.
The TV remote was wrapped with a seal after it was cleaned.
In the bathroom, extra attention was given to things like the hair dryer, individual amenities and major surfaces.
Nonessential paper amenities, like pens, paper, magazines and the guest directory, that could easily carry germs have been removed from rooms.
The in-room coffee maker remained, but was thoroughly wiped down. Paper cups were provided rather than real mugs.
There were multiple stickers in the room outlining the extra cleaning steps. As with most other signage throughout the hotel, there were also QR codes that linked to more information about the updated protocols.
After the room was thoroughly cleaned, the door was shut with a seal indicating that it hasn’t been accessed since its last deep cleaning.
It’s clear that Hilton is trying to operate as safely as possible during these complex and uncertain times. While Hilton helped set up this tour, the room cleaning didn’t feel staged and I would have felt comfortable staying there if I were a guest. The room seals act as a pledge that the housekeepers followed all protocols and adds a layer of accountability.
The CleanStay program is just one step Hilton is taking to reassure travelers. Hilton is also offering a flexible cancellation policy and was the first major chain to extend elite status and points expiration.
Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:
- We got an inside look at how Delta is cleaning planes between every flight
- Country-by-country guide to reopenings
- State-by-state guide to American re-openings
- In-flight service is resuming — here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight
- What it’s like flying in the US right now
- Maximizing points and miles on summer road trips
All photos by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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