The coronavirus! We’ve all heard about it, and at this point, you are probably on the receiving end of all the government-mandated regulations: No clubs, bars, or concert venues open; sports events, cruises, and airline flights canceled; schools and universities closed; restaurants restricted to take-out only; even possible curfews and state lock-downs, etc. And, that list is sure to grow ever larger as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the country.

Needless to say, it will hit your business especially hard ̶ if it hasn’t already! Industry experts and professional commentators seem to be of one mind: The coronavirus is one of the most disruptive and worrying phenomenon that this country, indeed the entire world, has had to deal with in a long time. The effects are not only going to be economically and psychologically damaging, but they’re going to last far longer than anyone one of us would like.

Your Everyday Chore Becomes Crucial

It should come as no surprise then, that the one activity you manage every day, will take on even more importance: Cleaning, and in particular, using a powerful disinfectant on every part of your establishment, from bedrooms and bathrooms to dining facilities, reception areas and even cabanas.

However, before we get into the dos and don’ts of cleaning regimens, we have to acknowledge that the differing standards of cleanliness between resorts has a lot to do with the cleaning staff. The unavoidable fact is that they are mostly low-paid, unskilled employees who don’t have the training ̶ or the motivation ̶ needed to achieve high cleanliness standards. Add to that the high turnover rate among these workers and you can see that a lack of technique or inadequate cleaning protocols are the least of your problems. Still, it is an issue you need to address, especially now.

Pick the Right Disinfectant

The choice of disinfectant is up to you, but you’d be well-advised to use a product that not only functions as a disinfectant, but also as an insecticide that functions as a bacteriostatic ̶ that is, it inhibits bacterial growth. But it should also be able to kill fungus, viruses mold and mildew, as well as destroying pathogenic odors. Most important of all, perhaps, is that it dry quickly ̶ preferably taking no more than 15-20 minutes, and that it be biodegradable and leave no residue or active ingredients. Finally, it should be EPA approved.

Cleaning the Rooms

So, as you ̶ or your staff ̶ go about the daily business of cleaning rooms, try to keep these points in mind:

  1. Be sure to empty and spray the garbage bins. And always, always, use gloves to remove and discard the contents.
  2. Dust and spray all the furniture and picture frames.
  3. Wipe all the baseboards and spot clean walls, if needed.
  4. Sanitize the TV, the TV remote, and the phone. Ditto with the fridge, if the room has one.
  5. Clean the bedroom mirror and windows.
  6. Wash all the glasses and coffee cups in the room with very hot water and soap.
  7. Vacuum the floor (including under the bed), the furniture, the drapes (or blinds), the baseboards, the closets, and the entertainment center. Plus, wipe down the in-room bar with a sterilized wipe or cloth.

And Now the Bathroom!!

Moving on to the bathroom, your staff now has a different set of priorities. They should systematically:

  1. Clean the mirror and spray the sink, bathtub, shower and toilet with your cleaner of choice
  2. Use a clean, wet cloth to wipe the sink, bench-tops, bathtub and shower tiles. Your Staff should also check shower grout for mould, and remove it if necessary.
  3. Clean the toilet, fastidiously, both inside and out. Remember, any cloth used on the toilet must be dumped immediately
  4. Wipe down the bathroom walls if they are soiled or in any way splashed.
  5. Wipe the floor tiles. Do not use a mop ̶ it simply spreads bacteria around.

A Worst-Case Scenario

Let’s face it: No one wants to be in one of those ‘worst-case’ situations, but when it come to the coronavirus, be prepared. In other words, never say ‘never’.

But let’s just suppose that one of your guests tests positive for the coronavirus virus! Rule One: Do not panic. Rule Two: Refer to Rule One.

But seriously, if you are unfortunate enough to have a client who tests positive for the coronavirus, there are a number of effective steps you can take to mitigate, or lessen, the impact of this unfortunate diagnosis.

Staff who clean the rooms occupied by infected guests must:

  1. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  2. Ventilate the room by opening the windows.
  3. Remove the bed linen and towels.
  4. Not leave loose items in the hotel corridor.
  5. Remove all disposable items such as sachets and toilet rolls.
  6. Clean the remaining items, such as cups, and glasses etc.
  7. Pay special attention to hand contact surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, telephone handsets, TV remote control, and bedside tables.
  8. Use lots of cleaning cloths to avoid re-contaminating surface.
  9. Put on the PPE before they enter the room. Afterwards all used PPE should be discarded and placed in the appropriate bag, along with disposable cloths, paper towels, etc. The bag must be securely tied before it leaves the room.

If, on the other hand, the infected guest is still in residence and your staff need to access their room (to deliver a room service meal, for instance), then the employee who enters the room should, if possible, avoid close contact (within one metre) with the guest. After exiting the room, the staff member should clean their hands with soap and water.

Going Forward

A recent Resort Trades article, offered some advice which, I think, everyone in the industry should pay attention to:

“Realistically, this pandemic and the resulting decline in business performance, stock markets and consumer confidence could lead us into a global recession. However, keep an optimistic, long-term perspective and prepare for when you can restore optimal operations.”

It’s difficult to say when, exactly, this pandemic will be over, but if we follow the rules and act responsibly, we will be able to weather this ‘storm’.

1. Managing Your Business During Times of Disruption, Resort Trades, March 2020.