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  • Writer's pictureDean Nelson, (he/him) CTC, LLD

New standards for Hotel Cleanliness

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

The hotel industry's new cleanliness standards in the wake of the COVID-19 global health emergency. This is welcomed news for some travellers that are germaphobes as the hotel rooms will be the cleanest they have ever been. The big 6 hotel chains (IHG - InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham, Accor, and Hyatt) have all adopted similar Health and Safety standards which generally include:

  • All employees are required to wear masks

  • All guests are required to wear masks in public areas unless they are eating or drinking (exceptions for guests with medical conditions)

  • Extra sanitizing & disinfection of high-touch areas in guest rooms

  • Increased cleaning frequency of public areas

  • Disinfecting wipes available to guests

  • Enhanced cleaning & disinfection of restaurant areas and meetings spaces

  • Contactless check-in and check-out available at many properties

  • Exploratory use of electrostatic sprayers with disinfecting mist and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects

  • Enhanced staff safety inclusive of personal protective equipment and enhanced training and protocols

While all of the above is designed to make potential travellers feel safe booking accommodation at well-known hotel chains, there are some  common sense tips to keep in mind.

Big brands, especially big hotel brands, are known for consistency. Guests should be able to expect a common level of service and quality within a particular brand. Of course, the ownership structure of individual hotels makes this a bit more complicated. Some hotels are company-owned, some are owned locally and managed by the brand, some are managed by third party management companies and the majority are pure franchise properties.

It is important to keep in mind that while a hotel chain’s publicly stated COVID-19 policy is their well-intentioned goal, realistically the situation on the ground will show some variance.

Hilton - CleanStay

Hilton Hotels and Resorts recently announced their new "Hilton CleanStay" program to deliver a tourism industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection at their properties worldwide. Hilton, with its more than 6,100 properties and 18 brands, will collaborate with with Lysol, Dettol and the Mayo Clinic to develop enhanced cleaning protocols to ensure an even cleaner and safer stay from check-in to check-out.

Hilton CleanStay will build upon the already high standards of housekeeping and hygiene at Hilton properties worldwide, where hospital-grade cleaning products and upgraded protocols are currently in use.  The goal of Hilton CleanStay is to provide guests with assurance and peace of mind. The initiative will create a focus on cleanliness that will be visible to guests throughout their entire stay – in their guest rooms, restaurants, fitness rooms and in other public spaces. 

Hilton CleanStay was developed to meet evolving consumer expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research indicates that consumers have heightened concerns regarding hygiene on their journey, and trust in cleanliness standards will be critical to restarting travel. 

“Our first priority has always been the safety of our guests and Team Members,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, Hilton President and CEO. “Hilton CleanStay builds on the best practices and protocols we’ve developed over the last several months, allowing our guests to rest easy with us and focus on enjoying the unforgettable experiences we have to offer – while protecting our Team Members who are on the front lines of hospitality.”

With the aid of Mayo Clinic medical and technical experts, Hilton is rewriting its cleaning protocols to translate the best practices in hospital hygiene standards to hotel guest rooms. Medical experts from the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Response Team will also advise on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development, and create a rigorous quality assurance program. 

While full details for the program are still in development and expected to be announced soon, hotel brand standards under consideration include: 

  • Hilton CleanStay Room Seal: Add an extra measure of assurance by placing a room seal on doors to indicate to guests that their room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned. 

  • 10 High-Touch, Deep Clean Areas: Extra disinfection of the most frequently touched guests room areas – light switches, door handles, TV remotes, thermostats and more. 

  • De-clutter Paper Amenities: Remove pen, paper and guest directory; supplement with digital or available upon request. 

  • Focus on Fitness Centers: Improved guidelines for disinfecting the hotel Fitness Center, possibly closing for cleaning multiple times daily and limiting the number of guests allowed in at one time. 

  • Clean and Clean Again: Increase the frequency of cleaning public areas. 

  • Guest-Accessible Disinfecting Wipes: Provide stations at primary entrances and key high traffic areas, for instance, a station to allow guests to wipe the elevator button before pressing. 

  • Contactless Check-In: Hilton will double-down on its award-winning Digital Key technology for guests who desire to have a contactless arrival experience. Guests can check-in, choose their room, access their room with a digital room key and check-out using their mobile devices through the Hilton Honors mobile app at participating hotels. Hilton will continue to expand its Digital Key capabilities to common doors and access points throughout the hotels. 

  • Innovative Disinfection Technologies: Hilton is exploring the addition of new technologies, like electrostatic sprayers – which use an electrostatically charged disinfecting mist – and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects.

And throughout the new cleaning process, hotel Team Members will be provided with personal protective equipment and enhanced training designed to protect their well-being while continuing to deliver unmatched Hilton hospitality.

Four Seasons Hotels + Resorts

The Four Seasons Hotel chain is also working on their post COVID-19 response as they prepare to welcome travellers back to their properties. The Four Seasons New York is the trailblazer for the chain as they welcomed NYC's medical professionals working on the COVID-19 battlefront. The New York property had to overhaul all of their operating procedures to keep both their healthcare guests and team members safe.

In an interview with NBC news, Four Seasons NYC General Manager, Rudy Tauscher explains

"We now have almost no touch points in the entire hotel, which is completely against a hotel's nature of being hands-on and kind," Tauscher said. "We used to be known for the human touch — but now we're all about no touch at all. I think it's safe to say that breakfast buffets and communal tables and the kinds of things that had been traditions at many hotels are going away, for who knows how long."

Upon arrival at the Four Seasons, guests are given three bags: one for soiled towels, one for soiled bedding and one for trash. When towels and bedding need to be cleaned and when garbage needs to be removed, guests are asked to place bags near the entrances to their rooms and to contact housekeeping, which picks up the bags without ever fully entering the rooms.

The deep cleaning of the rooms takes place after guests leave.

Removing all extra non essential items including the mini-bar, extra pillows, linens, magazines, and other tchotchkes will help in keeping the rooms sanitized. In addition to the careful cleaning procedures each room will remain empty for a full two to three days between guests.

Moreover to the strict new cleaning producers, the Four Seasons New York, has two nurses who now staff the single entrance to the hotel. Everyone who enters the property has their temperature taken, both employees and guests. Anyone with a fever is denied entry. Though the hotel chain does not think temperature checking will remain permanent, it will be the new normal as business and leisure travel returns.

Accor Hotels + Resorts

Accor Hotels and Resorts have introduced intensified hygiene & prevention measures to ensure your safety. The ALLSAFE label verified by Clifton represents our new elevated cleanliness protocols and standards and provides assurance that these standards have been met in our hotels.

  • Dedicated guest hotline to answer questions and to best prepare your stay.

  • Social distancing enforced in all common areas.

  • Contactless check-in, check-out and payments carried out whenever possible.

  • Sanitiser provided in key public areas. (front desk, elevators, restaurants, etc.)

  • Reinforced cleaning program in public areas with frequent disinfection of all high touch areas.

  • Reinforced cleaning program in public areas with frequent disinfection of all high touch areas.

  • Employees given comprehensive safety & hygiene training

  • As of July 2020, guest access to medical professionals and tele- medical support, with our AXA partnership. Learn more >

  • Reinforced food safety standards and new protocols.

  • Safe room service provided at no extra charge in case of restaurant closures.

IHG - InterContinental Hotel Group Clean Promise

IHG passionately believes the world is meant to be explored, and whenever guests feel comfortable to do so, IHG is ready to safely welcome you through their doors once more.

Managing the effects of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry and their company is a team effort. Every day, they are responding quickly and thoughtfully, ensuring that they do the right thing for their guests, colleagues, hotels and owners, plus the many local communities of which they are proud to be a part. They take great care over their decisions, so that IHG makes responsible choices for both today and the long term. 

IHG has a long-standing commitment to rigorous cleaning, having launched the IHG Way of Clean programme in 2015, which was developed with Ecolab and Diversey, both world leaders in hygiene and cleaning technologies and services. Now also partnering with a team of medical experts at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, we have expanded this programme with evolved procedures. Examples include:

  • Reception: Front-desk screens, sanitiser stations, sanitised key cards and paperless checkout

  • Guest Room: Visible verification of sanitised items (e.g., glassware, remote control), reduction of in-room furnishings/high-touch items, new laundry protocols and use of new technology

  • Public Spaces and facilities: Additional deep cleaning of high-touch surfaces, social distancing, ‘last cleaned’ charts, best practices for pools, fitness centres and lounges

  • Food and beverage: New standards and service approach to buffets, banquets, room service and catering

  • Meetings and events: Deep and more frequent cleaning of meeting and event spaces, access to ample hand sanitser stations, socially distanced seating and meeting room layout, guidance on management of guest flow, single-serve and pre-packaged meal options.

  • Social distancing operating procedures and signage

  • Clear PPE standards for colleagues and guidance on the use of protective equipment

  • Cleanliness information in hotels and on IHG’s booking channels

Marriott BonVoy - Commitment to Clean

The Marriott Cleanliness Council is redefining their cleaning and safety standards. Marriott will actively monitor and evolve their solutions to ensure a continued focus on the health and safety of their guests and associates.

When guests check into Marriott's hotels over the next few months, they will notice a number of additions to the company's regimen designed to set an even higher standard of cleanliness for the hotels. Specific area of focus include:

  • To promote the health and safety of their communities, face coverings are required for guests and associates in all indoor public areas in North America, the Caribbean and Latin America.

  • In public spaces, the company has added to its already rigorous cleaning protocols, requiring that surfaces are treated with hospital-grade disinfectants and that this cleaning is done with increased frequency. In guest rooms, Marriott has added to its detailed cleaning practices, requiring all surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectants. The company will also be placing disinfecting wipes in each room for guests' personal use.

  • New enhanced cleaning technologies including electrostatic sprayers to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel. They are using air purifying systems that are effective against viruses in the air and on surfaces.

  • To help alleviate the risk of COVID-19 transmission through person-to-person contact, Marriott will be using signage in its lobbies to remind guests to maintain social distancing protocols and will remove or re-arrange furniture to allow more space for distancing. The company is planning to add partitions at front desks to provide an extra level of precaution for its guests and associates and is working with supply chain partners to make masks and gloves available to associates. You'll see more hand sanitizing stations around Marriott's hotels - near the entrances and front desks, elevator banks and fitness and meeting spaces.

  • At Marriott, food handlers and supervisors are trained on safe food preparation and service practices. The company's food and beverage operations are required to conduct self-inspection using its food safety standards as guidelines, and compliance is validated by independent audits. Marriott is also enhancing sanitation guidelines and training videos for associates that include hygiene and disinfecting practices. In addition, the company is modifying its operational practices for in-room dining and designing new approaches to buffets.

  • In more than 3,200 of Marriott Hotel Group hotels, guests can choose to use their phones to check in, access their rooms, make special requests and order room service that will be specially packaged and delivered right to the door without contact. These "touchless" services can all be done quickly via Marriott's mobile app. Click here to learn more.

Wyndham - Count on Us

Wyndham hotels and resorts is committed to the health and safety of their guests and team members, so they are taking important steps to demonstrate you can Count on Us—whether you’re planning to travel now or in the future.

When you stay at Wyndham's U.S. and Canada hotels, you’ll notice Wyndham new measures in place to give you peace of mind. The following items are subject to product availability:

  • Disinfecting wipes with your key card at check-in

  • Complimentary travel-size hand sanitizer for each room

  • More frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas

  • Enhanced social distancing measures in public spaces

  • Masks required in indoor public areas at all U.S. and Canada hotels

  • Meeting spaces accommodate social distancing and virtual attendees

click here to learn more about Wyndham's Count on Us.

Hyatt Hotels and Resorts - Safety First, Wellbeing Always

Providing safe and clean environments for Hyatt guests and colleagues is always a top priority for Hyatt hotels globally, and they remain committed to enhanced levels of cleanliness—now and in the future.

Hyatt's Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment focuses on the safety and wellbeing of their colleagues and guests, and builds on existing rigorous safety and cleanliness protocols. The commitment includes an international cleanliness and training accreditation process, a trained Hygiene & Wellbeing Leader or team at all locations, and a cross-functional panel of trusted medical and industry advisors. Visit Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment to learn more about enhanced safety and cleanliness measures you may see at Hyatt hotels worldwide.

IMPORTANT FACE MASK & COVERING REQUIREMENT: Following medical expert guidance to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, face masks or coverings are required in hotel indoor public areas and when moving around in outdoor areas at all Hyatt hotels globally, with some exceptions, based on local laws or guidance. For specific requirements, please contact the hotel directly or visit the hotel website.

Public areas may include hotel lobbies, meetings and events spaces, restaurants and bars, and fitness centers. Some guests may be exempt from this mandate, including but not limited to guests with medical conditions, guests consuming food or beverages in restaurants, guests who are seated outdoors and socially distant, and children under the age of two (2). Contact your nearest Hyatt Global Contact Center for more information.

Hyatt believes in responsible and safe travel while staying vigilant and following procedures and protocols developed in consideration of guidance and information shared by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other leading organizations and experts, and local government requirements and guidance. 

Hyatt also supports the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s (AHLA) “Safe Stay Guest Checklist.”

Hyatt hotels continue to welcome business and leisure travelers with our established operational excellence and commitment to care as we reimagine the hotel experience.

One thing is for certain, travel will have a very health and safety forward ideology moving forward.


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