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EXCLUSIVE: Inside look at the ‘new normal’ for London hotels as businesses reopen

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Hotels in London have adapted operations, introduced new protocols and invested significantly in PPE equipment as business prepared to reopen at the weekend.

On Friday, Boutique Hotelier was given an exclusive look inside two London hotels ahead of their reopening on Saturday, to check out the reconfigured layouts and equipment that has been implemented to help customers and staff to stay safe.

Corinthia London and Treehouse were both prepared to reopen on Saturday, with a mixed level of bookings, including accommodation nights and F&B, secured for each business.

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Thomas Kochs, managing director at Corinthia London told BH that despite a ‘little spike’ of bookings for Saturday, the following week it drops off.

Kochs added that he was hopeful that the international quarantine announcement on Friday would help to stir in a flurry of interest.

“We have 280 bedrooms and we usually run at 90% occupancy at this time of year, but on Saturday we are on 15%.

“Kerridge’s Bar and Grill is open and the lounge for tea. Kerridge’s is super busy, we are full for the new capacity on Saturday night and Sunday lunch looks really good.”

Kerridge’s Bar and Grill can now hold 74 seats in total at one sitting.

“It’s early days, we have an entire month to build it up. Some consumers will want to see what it’s like before making their decision,” he says.

On Saturday 70 staff members would be returning to work; usually this would be around 220 for this time of year at peak times.  

Interestingly however, Corinthia London has managed to pick up a few wedding bookings for later this year, previously scheduled for overseas and now cancelled because of the pandemic.

Temperature checker at Corinthia London

Some of the new systems implemented at the hotel include Emma Willis designed face masks for staff, temperature-checking machine for all staff and guests, automatic hand sanitisers brought to tables and air purifiers in the bedrooms.

Menus can now be found on special QR Codes that are given to guests on arrival at the restaurants.

Kochs adds: “I’m not imaging we will have a commercially incredible July, that would be naïve, and that’s the same for all hospitality operators.”

Prior to the reopening of Treehouse London, which is part of US brand 1Hotels, all AC units were cleaned out and disinfected across the whole building and special ‘post pandemic cleaners’ brought in to clean the property from top to bottom.

Ayo Akinsete, area managing director at Treehouse, told BH that occupancy at the 95-bedroom hotel was at 40% this weekend with bookings strong for the next three weekends. The hotel also boasts a rooftop bar, which despite reducing its capacity by 50%, was full on Saturday, alongside the Mexican-inspired restaurant which has reduced its covers from 180 to 120 to comply with distancing rules.

The hotel has introduced a two-hour sitting regulation and a new minimum spend policy to help make up for the loss of tables.

Each guest is given a PPE kit on arrival and staff will all be wearing custom-made Liberty face masks. All high-touch areas have been replaced with the use of an app which guests will be encouraged to use.

Infrared luggage scanners will also be used on arrival.

Infrared luggage scanner at Treehouse

In the bedrooms each room will be sealed after housekeeping and non-essential items, such as cushions and bed throws removed for hygiene reasons.

Akinsete said that now it was key to get open, ‘control the flow and get staff back off furlough’. Staff numbers on Saturday had been reduced to 52 from 175.

Tags : Corinthia LondonHotelier Hot SeatLondonLondon hotelsreopeningTreehouse London
Zoe Monk

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