How hotels, Airbnbs work to keep travelers safe during coronavirus pandemic

Airbnb says beach towns will be popular next year

The pandemic lockdowns began about eight months ago and if you haven’t taken a getaway, you may be eager at this point. But how do you make sure you choose a safe place to stay?

From check-in to check-out, nothing about a hotel stay is quite the same these days. Dr. Stacey Rizza says that’s the way it should be. She’s an infectious disease doctor at the Mayo Clinic, which advised Hilton on its coronavirus cleaning and disinfection protocols.

“Personal safety is essential as we’re reopening our society and reopening our businesses and industry,” Dr. Rizza says. “When I walk into a hotel facility or into the room, I want to see that in the lobby and in the public areas everybody is masked, particularly the employees, there’s appropriate social distancing in the congregant communal areas and appropriate cleaning of each of the rooms.”

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Hilton’s CleanStay program includes marking clean rooms with a sticker.

Marriott is disinfecting rooms nationwide using electrostatic foggers.

Dr. Rizza says you should check a hotel’s website to make sure its cleaning procedures are clearly spelled out. She says you don’t need to bring anything into a hotel room. “If a hotel is doing all the appropriate measures and doing the disinfecting and the cleaning, your room should be clean for you when you come in,” Dr. Rizza says. “Some people feel more comfortable bringing cleaning products with them.”

The Mark was the first luxury hotel to reopen to guests in New York City this summer. The hotel gives guests a safety kit at check-in. It includes a face mask, hand sanitizer, gloves and wipes. In the lobby, arriving guests get their temperatures checked, and high-touch areas like elevator buttons are disinfected at least once per hour.

If you’re staying at an Airbnb, the company has also reworked its cleaning protocols for hosts with the help of a former Surgeon General. It’s a five-step plan: prepare, clean, sanitize, check, reset.

“People have always been concerned about having a healthy and clean place to travel to but now more so than ever,” says Airbnb Senior Vice President Chris Lehane. “Three in four of our guests say that health and safety is really driving the decisions that they are making when they are looking to travel.”

Airbnb says more than 60% of Americans are interested in booking stays within driving distance of where they live.

The company predicts domestic locations, including stays in national parks, ski and beach towns, will continue to be popular next year.