As the hospitality sector reopens, what safety procedures are in place and what can guests expect when staying in hotels, campsites and self-catering accommodation?
Here we ask some experts and owners of various accommodations about the safety measures in place to help combat the spread of coronavirus, and what guests can expect.
Centre Parcs recently announced it will reopen its UK villages from Monday 13 July. The announcement comes after all five villages closed their doors on Friday 20 March in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
In line with government guidance, there will be social distancing and new safety measures in place to protect the families who visit each week and the company’s 8,500 employees.
Center Parcs’ CEO, Martin Dalby, said, “Although it was disappointing to have to close our villages, it was the right thing to do to keep our guests and staff safe. The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant effect on the whole country and we always said we would only reopen once we were 100 per cent satisfied it was safe to do so. We’ve had our teams working around the clock to review everything we do, right down to the smallest detail, and we‘re now ready to open our doors again.
“We know that a lot of families were looking forward to Center Parcs breaks and we can’t wait to welcome you back to the forest. Those families who have visited us before will notice some changes to the way we’re doing things, but the essence of a Center Parcs break will remain the same, offering a fantastic short break experience with plenty of space within our 400 acres of natural woodland.”
The new measures to keep guests and staff safe include:
- Reduced numbers of guests on each break
- Changes to some activities to maintain social distancing
- Cashless payment only across the villages
- New takeaway service offering contactless delivery to lodges
Initially, in line with government guidance, the villages will open without the Subtropical Swimming Paradise and Aqua Sana Spa.
Dalby said, “We know how disappointing it will be for some families that the Subtropical Swimming Paradise isn’t open during their break. We have been planning the changes needed to maintain social distancing and we look forward to reopening these facilities as soon as we are able to do so. However, we know that so many families have been looking forward to their breaks and we are so pleased to be open for the summer.”
In Scotland, luxury self-catering accommodation on the shores of Loch Lomond, Cameron Lodges, will reopen on 17 July.
Director Allan Reich said, “Tourism plays such an important role in Scotland’s economy and it’s vital that everyone operating in this industry gets it right when they come to reopen. Our top priority is to keep our guests safe while continuing to provide an exceptional holiday experience and the warm, Scottish hospitality that we are known for.
“At Cameron Lodges, we are lucky to be based in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park with plenty of wide-open space to allow guests and staff to socially distance.
“Ahead of our reopening on Friday 17th July we have looked at every aspect of the guest journey, from start to finish, and have made a number of changes to ensure our guests enjoy a safe and relaxing holiday.
“We are enhancing the cleaning and sanitising procedures between guests and have moved the check in to 5pm to allow our staff sufficient time to thoroughly sanitise the lodge/apartment. Our housekeeping staff have been fully trained in the new policies and procedures and will wear full PPE when cleaning and sanitising a lodge/apartment. We have also upgraded the cleaning chemicals we use to ensure they are best suited to combat Coronavirus. Once a lodge/apartment has been inspected and signed off, a seal will be placed over the front door and guests can only enter once this seal is in place.
“Keys will be cleaned and sanitised before being placed in a secure box outside a lodge or apartment to keep guests’ interaction with staff to a minimum.
“All soft furnishings, including cushions and throws, tea and coffee boxes, and information holders have been removed from the lodges/apartments. All other linens will be professionally cleaned offsite between guests.
“Our employees have received detailed training on all aspects of their role in relation to Covid-19. Health screening and recording will be carried out with employees prior to the start of their shift and all necessary PPE equipment will be used by the team as required.
“We have also updated our booking policy and guests can now cancel up to 24 hours before their stay and receive a full refund, in the event they or someone they know develops symptoms of Covid-19.”
Holiday park reopening dates
- Haven is reopening in England from 5 July, in Wales from 13 July, and in Scotland on 17 July (subject to final Welsh and Scottish government confirmation)
- Parkdean Resorts is reopening in England on 6 July, Wales 13 July, and Scotland 17 July
- The Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC, formerly The Caravan Club) intends to reopen the majority of sites from 4 July in England and 15 July in Scotland. Timetables for Wales and Northern Ireland are not yet available. Certificated Locations (CLs) and Affiliated Sites will be able to open from the same dates, except Affiliated Sites and CLs in Northern Ireland which can open from 26 June
- The Camping and Caravanning Club (The C&CC) will reopen the majority of sites from 4 July in England and Northern Ireland, from 13 July in Wales (not confirmed) and 15 July in Scotland (not confirmed)
- Forest Holidays is accepting bookings for arrival from 6 July
- Butlin's is closed until 16 July
Hotels in Scotland have given dates for reopening from 15 July onwards, including the famous Gleneagles and Old Course hotels.
Conor O’Leary, joint managing director at Gleneagles, said, “We’re thrilled to have an opening date for Gleneagles in sight and look forward to bringing some joy to our guests after what has been a difficult few months for all of us.
“Whilst our priority must and always will be safety, and protecting the wellbeing of everyone at Gleneagles, neither of those important responsibilities takes away from our main commitment of providing guests with a sense of escape and adventure.”
For the duration of the hotel's closure, staff have been working to carefully review the entire operation to develop a detailed new set of safety protocols. A number of adjustments have been made and measures put in place to provide the highest standards of safety at all times.
From how the hotel team will interact with guests and colleagues, to checking in, moving around the hotel and servicing bedrooms, food preparation, and the seating plans in restaurants and bars - an enhanced set of hygiene and safety measures have been implemented across the estate to provide even greater peace of mind during guests’ time at the hotel.
Caravan parks and campsites
Pitchup.com has seen a surge in bookings and new sites added, as people holiday at home this summer.
Founder Dan Yates comments, “Shorter, closer, later is how we've characterised booking trends for years now, and from the earliest stages of lockdown, we anticipated that it would be truer than ever this year. We’re well adapted for this with our award-winning mobile site, rich search functionality and instant booking for all properties.
"UK campsites are an obvious choice to avoid densely populated areas and transport hubs like international airports. Camping is also a good holiday solution for those working to lower budgets, and works for shorter breaks of a few nights, unlike many cottages that insist on seven night minimum stays in peak holiday season.”
Now that official advice has been published in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Pitchup.com is encouraging sites to select from its nearly 50 Covid-19 features that campsites can display on their listings of best practices gathered from around the world.
- Disinfectant sprays and wipes provided
- Self check-in (unattended)
- Staggered showering times
- Minimum spacing of between pitches - some sites are using these spaces to develop wildlife corridors
- Reception / play areas / other communal spaces closed
Deposits continue to be guaranteed transferable to a later date should guests need to change their dates, and many balances are also transferable.
The Camping and Caravanning Club has also released information on the measures they'll take for staff and public safety - with their club sites opening in England on 4 July. More information can be found here.
What are the government guidelines?
Guidance across the board for the tourism sector at this time stresses that hygiene plays a big part, with contactless or cashless payments encouraged, careful consideration given to using toilets, and self-service and buffet-type food and drink “not possible at this time”.
Frequent cleaning is also advised to be implemented, with hand sanitiser and ventilation increased where possible among the other methods of reducing transmission.
Additional measures for staff safety include avoiding in-person meetings, staggered break times and considering contingency and risk plans for future events such as reimposing lockdown measures.