With the greatest drop in travel demand in history, hotels in many parts of the world have struggled mightily – although in the U.S. and some other regions business has been coming back – especially in popular leisure destinations that have been largely open during the pandemic like Florida and Cancun.
Hotel chains have relaxed the rules that their properties have to follow, limiting how much each has to spend on forward-looking investments and during each guest stay. Hilton recently updated its brand standard waivers, including outlining when some services have to return, and View From The Wing reviewed an internal summary of the changes – some of which are temporary and others permanent.
Hotels can remain closed through December 31, 2021 without jeopardizing their Hilton agreements. Homewood Suites properties can suspend the Lewis the Duck reading program. Canopy properties don’t have to provide welcome gifts again until July 1. But CleanStay brand standards have no end date – they remain in place worldwide.
Hilton properties in Asia are already providing daily housekeeping again, as of March 15, but they only have to Lysol rooms in between guests. And they’ve suspended their Brand Conferences through the end of 2021, which is a tad ironic as they pitch the return of meetings and events business.
In the Room
Hotels can remove pens and note pads from rooms, but must have them available for guests on request. If they remove the Services Directory and menu, it has to be available digitally.
Hilton, DoubleTree, and Canopy properties that normally offer bathrobes and slippers can make those items on-request through June 30, 2021. Hotels in the Americas that offer shower caps can make those upon request. Embassy Suites in the Americas can use paper cups instead of glassware in rooms until that time. Canopy hotels can permanently reduce in-room laundry bags from 2 to 1.
All brands globally have had their mattress replacement cycle suspended. Any mattress due for replacement in 2020 or 2021 can be used through end of 2022.
At luxury and lifestyle brands in the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa, and at limited-serice properties in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, hotels can reduce the number of pillows they supply in rooms from 4 to 2. Although while this is generally permitted through June 30, limited-service properties in Asia have to restore pillows by June 1 unless granted a further extension.
Hilton and DoubleTree properties in the Americas can substitute 1.25 ounce bath soap with 1 ounce face soap. Meanwhile Hilton and DoubleTree properties in Asia Pacific that were placing larger-sized amenities in executive and suite rooms are allowed to substitute standard-sized until the end of June. In the Americas where shower gel was provided at these brands in premium rooms, those may be limited to on-request.
Full service hotels globally can limit rooms to two bath towels, and suspend offering face cloths in Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa. Luxury properties can suspend turn down service.
Hotels with TVs due to be refreshed in 2020, or that don’t meet size requirements, can put that off through end of 2021. Full service hotels in the Americas don’t have to update their pillows and pillow cases to new products until the start of 2023.
Through June 30, pools and fitness centers don’t have to be open, but if they’re open they must follow CleanStay protocols. Hotels that were supposed to refresh their fitness centers in 2020 have been able to put that off until the end of 2021.
Same day dry cleaning service doesn’t have to be offered. Tru hotels have suspended provision of magazines, and board and card games that aren’t easily cleaned are to have been stored.
While business centers may not be functioning, hotels do have to offer guests with a printing option. This does not have an end date, so we may not see the return of business centers at many properties.
Food & Beverage
All Suites properties may continue serving ‘Simplified Breakfast in a Box’ through June 30, 2021. Full service properties can continue to keep food and beverage outlets and club lounges closed through June 30, 2021.Homewood Suites grocery service ramains paused through June 30.
Hotels offering food and beverage have the requirement to seasonally refresh their menus paused through June 30. Canopy hotels no longer have a coffee station as a brand standard.
Also through mid-year Embassy Suites properties can limit evening receptions to 90 minutes, offering two packaged snacks and one red and white wine, one light beer, and one regular beer. Well drinks should also be available. However, suspension of Homewood Suites evening socials is recommended. Hilton Garden Inns can suspend the breakfast greeter.
Sustainability standards for egg and pork sourcing at Waldorf, Conrad, Canopy, Hilton and DoubleTree properties have been suspended.
Most of the complaints I’ve gotten from readers about hotels not honoring elite breakfast have come about Marriott properties. For instance,
- I called out the Marriott Key West for offering breakfast for sale in their restaurant while refusing to provide a breakfast benefit to elite members. They initially invoked pandemic regulations in response but they’re in Florida. I’m told that the hotel now offers oatmeal to elites as breakfast.
- Meanwhile the W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills says breakfast is available in their restaurant for elite members – who pay just like everyone else.
Not only do Hilton properties still have to offer elite breakfast (although they are permitted to offer a spending credit instead), DoubleTree properties even have to offer cookies at check-in – though they ‘re not supposed to hand offer the cookies without asking first, and there are food handling guidelines to follow.
Second Half Of 2021 Will Hopefully Improve
Many of Hilton’s brand standards have been suspended through June 30. That even includes the fee hotels are charged when guests complain, which has been reduced by 60% through that time. The penalty, then, for not delivering a quality stay is lower even when a customer is upset.