Hotel Policy Changes Related to COVID-19 [Updated: October 2021]

Hilton Hotels CleanStay Employee Cleaning

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The travel industry has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Initially, travel came almost to a complete standstill. Then, there was a slow reopening of some countries, and now we find ourselves in a complicated recovery period. Throughout it all, hotels have been doing everything they can to welcome travelers back to their properties while providing a safe experience.

Some governments have provided guidelines for safe reopening, but many hotels have taken it upon themselves to implement procedures to help keep guests safe and healthy while on property.

While some hotels may provide a “pre-pandemic” feel, depending on where you are traveling to, you should expect social distancing protocols, health checks, more contactless options, extra cleaning, and more.

Navigating all of these new procedures can be confusing and time-consuming when you’re looking to book your next trip with safety as a top-of-mind concern.

That’s exactly why we’ve created this easy-to-read guide with everything you need to know about your next hotel stay with major chains around the world.

Hotel Responses to COVID-19 (Overview)

Hotel Response Chart

Hotel Social Distancing Health Check Masks Required Contactless Check-In Enhanced Cleaning
Accor Hotels Yes Yes No* Yes Yes
Best Western Yes No No* Yes Yes
Caesars Entertainment Yes No Yes** No Yes
Choice Hotels Yes No No* No Yes
Hilton Yes No Yes** Yes Yes
Hyatt Yes No No* Yes Yes
IHG Yes No No* Yes Yes
Marriott Yes No No* Yes Yes
Omni Hotels Yes No No** Yes Yes
Preferred Hotels & Resorts Yes No Yes** No Yes
Radisson Hotels Americas Yes No Yes No Yes
Shangri-La Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Yes No No* Yes Yes

*Fully vaccinated guests are not required to wear a face mask at U.S. locations.

**Will vary by property based on local guidelines.

Individual Hotel Responses (COVID-19 Changes)

Accor Hotels

Video Credit: Accor Hotels

Accor has introduced its intensified hygiene and prevention measures under the ALLSAFE label to help ensure guest and staff safety.

All hotels now have elevated cleanliness protocols and standards. All unvaccinated guests and visitors will be required to wear masks while at any hotel in North or Central America. Masks will be provided if guests do not have one.

Guests staying at an Accor-managed property in the U.S. or Canada have the option to purchase a PreCheck PCR testing kit by x.labs to complete at home before checking in, though this is not required.

Safety Precautions

When guests are on property they’ll notice social-distancing cues and will be able to check in and out using contactless methods whenever possible. Health screenings will be completed at check-in which may include a temperature check.

Hand sanitizer will be readily available in public spaces such as the lobby, elevators, and restaurants. There will also be a reinforced cleaning program in all public areas as well as in guest rooms, focusing on high-touch areas.

Service Changes

Employees have been given new comprehensive safety and hygiene training. Reinforced food safety standards and protocols have also been implemented.

In hotels where restaurants may be closed, room service will be provided at no extra charge.

Hot Tip: Accor has partnered with AXA to provide 24-hour medical assistance to guests in non-urgent situations. If guests are feeling unwell, forgot a prescription, or would simply like some medical advice, they can call reception and the agent will refer them to one of the AXA-certified healthcare professionals. 

Best Western

Video Credit: Best Western

Best Western has launched its We Care Clean program that addresses guest room and common-area cleanliness as well as streamlined processes that minimize contact between guests and associates.

Fully vaccinated guests are no longer required to wear face masks when visiting U.S. properties.

Safety Precautions

New safety protocols include options for reduced contact between guests and staff through a streamlined check-in and checkout process by using Best Western’s Mobile Concierge platform.

On property, guests will notice social-distancing measures, reminders of wellness best practices, and the removal of common papers and magazines.

Sanitation stations or wipes will be available in public areas and high-touch areas will be disinfected regularly.

Service Changes

Breakfast service has been altered depending on local health and government regulations. Where possible, hot breakfast has returned — otherwise, “grab-and-go” options will be available.

Public areas such as pools, fitness centers, and meeting rooms will be cleaned regularly with either electrostatic fogging, ozone generators, or ultraviolet devices.

Caesars Entertainment

Video Credit: Caesars Entertainment

Caesars Entertainment, like many others, has had to make many changes to its day-to-day operations in order to reopen safely. With hotels, casinos, restaurants, pools, spas, bars, and more, guests should expect a different experience next time they visit a property.

Depending on the location, guests and staff may be required to wear face masks while in public areas, except while eating or drinking, in accordance with local guidelines.

Safety Precautions

Across all operations, guests can expect to see social-distancing markers and sanitizing stations readily available. Continuous cleaning and disinfecting of all common areas and high-touch items will take place throughout each shift.

Casino floors, restaurants, and other seated venues may be operating at reduced capacity to facilitate social distancing. Slot machines have been arranged accordingly and are regularly disinfected.

Service Changes

In the bar, seating may be arranged differently to allow for social distancing and bartenders will provide hand sanitizer to each arriving customer.

Guests using the fitness center will have exercise equipment sanitized between uses, but you may notice portable fitness equipment (such as dumbells, yoga mats, etc.) has been removed. Spa appointments have been spread out to allow for cleaning and disinfecting between treatments.

Finally, in the pool area, cabanas and lounge chairs will be cleaned and disinfected regularly and may be spaced to allow for social distancing.

Choice Hotels

Video Credit: Choice Hotels

Choice has thousands of independently owned and operated locations and they’re all building on existing cleanliness protocols to help keep staff and guests healthy. The company has partnered with Ecolab to help ensure the correct infection-prevention programs and training are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

From deep cleaning to disinfecting, to hygiene and social distancing, here’s what you can expect during your next stay at a Choice Hotel.

Safety Precautions

As you might imagine, face coverings are required for non-vaccinated guests in public areas. This applies to staff, guests, and visitors.

High-traffic areas such as the front desk, fitness centers, and pools will be sanitized regularly using hospital-grade disinfectant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Personal bottles of hand sanitizer will be available for guests at the front desk or in the guest rooms.

Service Changes

Every Choice-branded hotel will have a “Commitment to Clean Captain” who will complete enhanced training and help incorporate these new protocols at the property.

Guests who need housekeeping services can have them upon request for shorter visits and after every third night during longer stays.

Guests can always call the front desk if they need additional towels, toiletries, or linens throughout their stay.

Hot Tip: Concerned about how COVID-19 may affect your elite status or loyalty points? Check out our guide to hotel elite status extensions, changes, and updates.

Hilton

Video Credit: Hilton

Hilton is committed to providing a cleaner stay from check-in to checkout. The chain has partnered with RB (the makers of Lysol and Dettol) to help create its CleanStay Program.

In addition to the already “rigorous cleaning standards” at Hilton properties, this program introduces industry-leading cleaning practices designed to keep guests and staff healthy and safe.

Safety Precautions

For guests visiting Hilton properties in the U.S., Caribbean, and Latin America, guests are asked to follow local health and government guidelines regarding face masks.

The check-in process is contactless at over 4,800 properties via the Hilton Honors app (iOS, Android). Guests can check in, choose their room, and skip the front desk right from their phone, reducing contact between staff and guests.

Guests arriving at their room for the first time will find a CleanStay seal on the door jam, assuring the room has been cleaned and disinfected before arrival.

High-touch areas in public areas will receive regular cleaning and disinfecting.

If you’re having an event at a Hilton property, the company will be offering Hilton EventReady with CleanStay to help with safety logistics and third-party COVID-19 testing for attendees.

Service Changes

Housekeeping schedules have been modified such that guests can request service when they feel comfortable. If guests need additional linens or toiletries, they can call the front desk and it will be delivered in protective packaging and placed at the guest room door.

Pools, spas, and fitness centers will all have modified policies depending on the location. It’s recommended to visit your hotel’s specific website to confirm any changes.

Hotels with dining rooms may have socially distanced tables and some breakfasts may be modified with pre-plated items instead of a self-serve buffet. Room service may provide contactless deliveries instead of rollaway carts.

Hyatt

Video Credit: Hyatt

Hyatt has made “safety first, wellbeing always” a priority when welcoming guests back to properties.

The company has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to help fine-tune safety protocols and has completed the cleanliness and training accreditation process from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) at all its hotels.

To ensure that each hotel is operating as safely as possible, there will be a trained “Hygiene & Wellbeing Leader” at each property to ensure that staff is adhering to the new protocols and training.

Safety Precautions

At all Hyatt properties around the globe, face coverings will be required for guests using indoor public areas and social distancing measures will be taken. At U.S. properties, vaccinated guests are no longer required to wear masks.

To encourage less contact between staff and guests, guests arriving at participating hotels can check in via the World of Hyatt app on their iOS or Android devices.

Sanitizing stations will be placed throughout hotels and high-touch public areas will be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Hyatt is currently testing the use of electromagnetic sprayers as well.

Service Changes

Fitness centers, meeting rooms, and other public areas have been reconfigured to leave room for social distancing.

In the restaurants, enhanced food safety and hygiene protocols have been introduced and room service will offer “knock-and-go” contactless delivery.

Once a guest room has been cleaned and disinfected after a stay, a seal will be placed on the door jam and will remain until the next guest arrives.

Housekeeping service has been modified to limit service during a guest stay unless a guest requests it and some high-touch items have been removed from guest rooms and are now available via QR code.

Additional digital amenities such as Headspace and Exhale are available for free and can be streamed wirelessly to your guest room TV via Chromecast.

Hot Tip: Are you tired of working from home, but aren’t ready to travel? Check out Work from Hyatt!

IHG

Video Credit: IHG

IHG is ready to welcome back guests safely to its hotels across the world. In partnership with Ecolab and Diversey, the company launched its IHG Way of Clean program several years ago.

Now, the program has been expanded with additional COVID-19 protocols and best practices backed by recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local public health authorities in states and cities across the globe.

In addition to IHG Way of Clean, guests will also have extra peace of mind thanks to the IHG Clean Promise which reassures guests that their rooms will be up to standard. And if they’re not, the hotel will make it right.

Safety Precautions

Face coverings are required in all public areas in hotels across the Americas. However, vaccinated guests are exempt from this requirement.

Reduced contact is a priority at check-in with touchless transactions, sanitized key cards, and paper-free checkouts. Guests will also notice transparent screens at the front desk and sanitizer stations in public areas.

In addition to increased cleaning frequency of high-touch areas in public areas (pools and fitness centers included), there will also be social-distancing cues placed throughout the properties.

Service Changes

Select hotels will be using electrostatic technology to help disinfect guest rooms, while all hotels will be utilizing new laundry protocols and removing high-touch furnishings and amenities, such as books and magazines.

New standards and service for food and beverage will be applied at buffets, banquets, restaurants, and room service — including contactless delivery.

With respect to events, there are more frequent deep cleanings of event rooms, socially distanced seating, extra hand sanitizing stations, guidance on the management of guest flow, and single-serve, prepackaged meal options.

Finally, IHG has introduced a mobile check-in option, but guests still need to stop by the front desk to get their keys.

If you’re an IHG member staying at a Mr & Mrs Smith hotel, you can learn about those policies here.

Marriott

Video Credit: Marriott

Marriott has rolled out its Commitment to Clean program that’s committed to providing a safe environment for both staff and guests.

In-house and outside experts have worked together to focus on food and water safety, hygiene, and infection prevention, while the so-called Marriott Cleanliness Council is redefining its cleaning and safety standards.

Guests staying at select hotels and resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean will have access to complimentary COVID-19 testing during stays of at least 3 nights to help with the process of traveling back to the U.S. The free on-site test is valid for 2 guests per room. If travel is delayed for a related reason (positive or delayed test), guests can book a discounted rate of 50% off the available flexible rate.

Safety Precautions

At Marriott properties in the U.S., face coverings are not required for vaccinated guests. In Canada, face coverings are optional. And in the Caribbean and Latin America, face coverings are required for guests and associates in all indoor public areas.

When arriving, guests can use the Marriott Bonvoy app on iOS or Android to check in before they arrive for an expedited experience. Some may even receive a Mobile Key at participating hotels to help reduce unnecessary contact.

Partitions have been installed at front desks, sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the hotel’s public areas, and social-distancing signs help guests navigate this new era safely.

All high-touch public areas are receiving increased cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants as well as the use of electrostatic sprayers to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel. Some hotels are also using air-purifying systems that are effective against viruses in the air and on surfaces.

Service Changes

In guest rooms, all surfaces are cleaned and disinfected with hospital-grade products and the hotel will leave disinfecting wipes for guest use.

Housekeeping service may be reduced depending on the property, but service and amenities can be requested at any time.

The food-and-beverage departments are adapting based on local regulations, but guests can expect to see modified buffet options and low-contact approaches to in-room dining.

Hot Tip: Marriott has launched a program, Work Anywhere with Marriott, for those of us working from home who want a change of scenery and want to try working from a hotel instead. The options include Day Pass, Stay Pass, and Play Pass. Learn more here

Omni Hotels

Video Credit: Omni Hotels

Omni Hotels has updated its already thorough cleaning guidelines in the wake of COVID-19 and introduced the “Omni Safe & Clean” initiative.

Of all of the safety programs that hotel chains have introduced, Omni has one of the most comprehensive public-facing policies.

Safety Precautions

Face masks are recommended based on local health and government regulation.

Upon arrival, guests are encouraged to opt for self-parking instead of valet to reduce contact with staff. Once in the hotel, guests will find social-distancing signs and Select Guest loyalty program members will have the option of a contactless check-in.

All public areas will have increased cleanings with EPA-certified and CDC-compliant cleaners, as well as the addition of hand sanitizing stations throughout each hotel. Properties will also be cleaning their HVAC systems and replacing the air filters more frequently.

Service Changes

All guest rooms will see enhanced disinfecting of high-touch items. They’ll also be sealed with the “Omni Safe & Clean” sticker upon completion between guests.

Housekeeping will continue to clean rooms daily, when the guest is not in the room, although this service can be paused upon request. Any requested items will be delivered in a contactless manner.

Some amenities have been paused temporarily including the minibar and Select Guest Kids’ Bags and Turndown Cookies. However, guests may find complimentary face masks in their room.

Spas and fitness centers will operate with capacity limits and schedules to allow for cleaning in between guests.

In the food-and-beverage outlets, there will be increased use of single-use and to-go options, as well as QR code menus. Seats and tables will be disinfected in between use.

Room service and Select Guest beverage service will be delivered using a contactless procedure.

To read in detail about everything Omni is doing, click here.

Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Video Credit: Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Preferred Hotels & Resorts is a group of independent hotels with almost 800 properties spread across 85 countries. So while they all may be “related” under the Preferred umbrella, there’s no corporate policy when it comes to handling the coronavirus.

Each hotel is responsible for creating its own protocols in line with local regulations to keep staff and guests safe, however many are following the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) Stay Safe protocols.

Despite not having a blanket policy for every hotel, visiting some of the hotels’ websites makes it clear they’re taking similar precautions to most other hotel brands. Here’s what you can expect.

Safety Precautions

Depending on where the hotel is located, face masks may be required based on local health and government guidelines.

Throughout hotels — like the Stanford Court Hotel in San Francisco — you’ll find sanitization stations and social-distancing makers in the public spaces. Some hotels will even provide guests personal safety kits.

High-touch items such as the front desk, elevator, restrooms, and fitness centers will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Service Changes

Service charges will vary by hotel; if you’re staying at a Preferred Hotel it’s best to visit the individual hotel website to confirm any changes.

Housekeeping is often an impacted area. Guests can expect to have a disinfected room upon arrival, with some amenities or high-touch items removed. Many hotels are opting to offer housekeeping upon request only.

Restaurants, bars, and room service will all likely have modified service with social distancing in mind and limited-contact options available whenever possible.

Radisson Hotels Americas

Video Credit: Radisson

Radisson is adjusting daily operations at its hotels to help keep guests and staff safe and healthy. The company has partnered with SGS (a global leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification company) to help create a 20-step safety protocol for hotels and a 10-step protocol for meeting and event spaces.

These protocols are designed to lay out specific processes and measures to make guests feel confident about their safety when visiting a Radisson property.

Safety Precautions

From face masks for guests and staff to protective barriers at check-in to health screenings for employees, numerous measures are being taken to create a safe environment.

Properties will have plenty of social-distancing cues throughout public areas along with sanitation stations to complement the increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch items.

Although contactless check-in is not an option, express checkout will help reduce contact between guests and team members.

Service Changes

In the guest rooms, linens will be cleaned with higher temperatures for “optimal disinfection” and the TV remote will be disinfected and sealed in an individual bag. Also, guests can expect to receive a personal travel-sized hand sanitizer in their room upon arrival.

Restaurants and bars may have tables spaced out in order to provide service in a socially distanced manner.

Hot Tip: We detail the cancellation policies of major hotel chains and online travel agencies, as well as recommended ways to cancel or change your reservation.

Shangri-La

Shangri La Hotel Group Covid Changes Front Desk Agent 1

The Shangri-La Group has modified its Shangri-La Cares program to address concerns crated by COVID-19.

From keeping employees safe and monitoring their health to extra cleaning and social distancing, here’s everything you can expect to see on your next trip to one of the chain’s luxury hotels.

Safety Precautions

Prior to arrival, guests will receive property-specific details about what to expect during their stay. At hotels in Southeast Asia and Australasia, guests will have their temperatures taken and will have to complete a health and travel declaration upon arrival.

All guests will be required to wear face masks in public areas and are encouraged to check in and checkout using the Shangri-La mobile app on iOS or Android to assist with social distancing.

Communal spaces will receive increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch items. Signage and queue ropes will be placed to help guests maintain safe physical distance.

Sanitizing stations will be available at the front desk and other common areas, and some hotels will be providing self-care packs for guests which include a face mask, hand sanitizer, and anti-bacterial wipes.

Service Changes

All guest rooms will receive a thorough cleaning and disinfecting, including increased frequency of sanitization of in-room HVAC units. Linens will be cleaned using high-temperature processes between uses.

Housekeeping services will be limited during a guest’s stay in order to reduce contact between guests and staff. Guests can always request services and amenities if needed.

Restaurants and bars have adjusted seating plans to better allow for social distancing and encourage guests to make reservations in advance as there could be capacity limits. Digital menus and contactless payments will be available.

Some pools and spas may be closed or have limited hours — it’s best to contact your hotel directly for specific protocols. For properties that are operating Kids’ Clubs, there will be mandatory temperature checks for both children and adult participants.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Video Credit: Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has elevated its health and safety protocols through the “Count on Us” program, designed to give guests peace of mind during their next stay.

Wyndham is a member of the AHLA Safe Stay Advisory Council and has partnered with Ecolab, so you can be sure that these new protocols and practices are based on the most proven guidelines.

If you’re traveling to one of its many properties through the U.S. and Canada, here’s what you can expect.

Safety Precautions

Face masks are required for unvaccinated guests and there will be more frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas.

Contactless mobile check-in and checkout will be available at participating hotels via the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts app available on iOS and Android. Guests will receive disinfecting wipes with their key cards upon arrival.

Social-distancing signs will be placed throughout the hotel as a gentle reminder to guests to keep a safe space around other guests.

Service Changes

Guest rooms will be left vacant for 24 to 72 hours, if possible, after checkout and then thoroughly cleaned and sterilized for the next guest. Non-essential amenities such as pens and decorative pillows may be removed from the guest room.

Housekeeping services will be limited during stays to reduce unnecessary contact but can be requested if needed.

In the restaurants, breakfast items will now be individually wrapped at select hotels.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re still not quite ready to travel yet or have been traveling for months, hotels are doing everything they can to keep their properties clean, sterilized, and free from the coronavirus.

From testing employees before their shifts to contactless check-in and enhanced cleaning methods, your next hotel stay will hopefully be one of the cleanest and safest you’ve had in recent memory.

Governments around the world and individual companies alike are constantly learning about and testing new methods to keep travelers safe, so be sure to check this article often for the latest updates.

As always, if you’re feeling sick, stay home, and if you are traveling, be safe!


All information and content provided by Upgraded Points is intended as general information and for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as medical advice or legal advice. For more information, see our Medical & Legal Disclaimers.


Frequently asked questions

Do I have to wear a mask at a hotel?

Currently, all of the major hotel brands are requiring unvaccinated guests to wear masks in indoor public areas. Masks do not need to be worn when eating or drinking, in pools, or in guest rooms.

What are hotels doing to protect guests from the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Hotels around the world are doing everything they can do to bring back travelers in a safe manner. Almost all hotels are requiring face masks for unvaccinated guests, social distancing, increasing cleaning, and providing hand sanitizer as a minimum. Many hotels are even going above and beyond this.

Is it safe to stay at a hotel right now? 

Without a doubt, staying home is the safest thing to do during a pandemic. However, if you find yourself needing to stay in a hotel, almost every hotel has implemented health and safety precautions to ensure guests and staff do not get sick.

Are hotels providing sanitizer and face masks?

Every hotel we researched is now offering hand sanitizer throughout the property and some are even providing individual containers for guests to take with them. If you forgot your mask, many hotels will have them available.

Chris Hassan

About Chris Hassan

Chris is from Boston and is currently living in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Shelby. When Chris was in college, he spent a semester abroad studying hotel and business management in Switzerland. That is where he caught the travel bug and met his wife. Quite a successful trip!

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