Our Recent Covid-19 Hotel Stay, How Different Was It?
Just last weekend we decided to fire up the car and head on an old fashioned road trip. Flying wasn’t in the cards quite yet, and we got a new puppy a few months back. We thought this might be the perfect chance to get him on the road, and also test the waters for heading back out there into the travel world. We knew that things were going to be different, but weren’t quite prepared for just HOW different things would be.
We stayed at the Aloft Cascade Station near Portland Airport, partly because it was near a bunch of shopping, partly because they had free parking and free electric charging during our stay for our Tesla.
We used our Marriott Bonvoy points (20,000) for a free night, as the cash rate was $145 plus tax for the Friday we wanted to stay.
We knew once we arrived at the hotel that things were going to be different. The doors were locked to not permit free flow of people in and out of the hotel. Access was via your keycard only, and for check-in, you had to call someone for them to come out.
The check-in counter was surrounded by plexiglass and there was a table out front with a credit card machine. No exchanging of cards would be happening. When it came time to check my ID, I placed it against the glass so she could see who I was.
In at least five places in the lobby, signs reminding us that it is required by the state to wear face masks at all times when in public areas were prominently displayed.
Interestingly enough, almost nothing has changed about the room. Everything remained the same, except for one thing. The throw pillows that normally adorn the beds have been removed. All that was there was the normal pillows. All I used to do with those silly pillows was throw them on the floor anyway, I’m glad to see them gone.
Elevator access was limited to 1 person at a time, or 1 double occupancy room. No sharing with total strangers any more! When others tried to get in the elevator, there was always a moment of hesitation as they wanted to go in, but you could tell they wanted to wait. Most people “got it,” and when I said “you can come in if you like!” people opted to wait for the next one.
While this isn’t going to be an issue in hotels with 2/3/4 floors, imagine a hotel with 20/30/40 floors. Remember how long it took to use the elevator before? Just imagine that now.
Every two hours, the elevator was being sanitized. We got out out of the elevator and the cleaning staff was ready to get in there and get it cleaned. Also, hand sanitizer was available at many locations throughout, including the elevator.
The pool? Closed. The WXYZ bar? Closed. The gym? Well that was available, but on a unique reservation-only basis. You could request a reservation of the gym in 1 hour time blocks. After use, an employee would go in and clean every surface and disinfect every surface for a full hour. Then, the gym would be available for use by the next guest. 1 room/person in every hour, 1 hour for cleaning.
Breakfast and Food Options
When I mentioned my Titanium Ambassador status, I was thanked, of course, and offered breakfast vouchers. When he asked if I wanted breakfast, he said it with a sort of playful smirk that you know came with a backstory.
“So, what’s breakfast look like in this new Covid world?”
“Well, we don’t have any hot options like we used to, so you’re welcome to choose cold options and snacks. We’ll give you each $16 to spend.”
Sounds good, right? Well, they were pretty picked over. Options were very limited. Here are two photos from what the breakfast looked like BEFORE covid
And, here’s the after
The fridge was stocked with cold brew, soda, etc. No milk, but they did have soy milk. We managed to grab the last two fruit cups, and they weren’t expecting to get any more in for about another 3-4 days.
The cookie was dust (fresh baked, indeed) and the microwave sandwich was… suspect.
Let’s be clear, it’s not what it was before, but it was enough to get us on the road and back moving again.
Surprisingly, the airport looked like there were a LOT of flights going out. That surprised me, as I had imagined that travel would have slowed down dramatically.
And the Dog?
Well, as his first hotel stay, he didn’t know what to expect. I will say that I do appreciate Aloft hotels, as they don’t charge any pet fees and offer food/water bowls and a dog bed.
Overall Covid Hotel Impressions
I’m curious to keep trying other hotels to see how they deal with the new Covid world. I’m thinking that full-service hotels will have a different approach then mid-level hotels or even low end hotels.
There is one glaring obvious fact about traveling during these uncertain times, and that is that nothing is quite going to be the same. I was relieved to see that the hotel rooms themselves have not changed, but for many of us, the entire travel experience is centered around the hotel.
Sure, for many people a hotel is just a place to lay your head at night. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you’re not going to see much of a difference.
If you’re looking for a place to socialize and escape from the day-to-day, explore local cultures and enjoy the experience of a new city, you might be in for a shock.