Covid-19 has brought cleaning protocols in hotels sharply into focus. Hotel Scotland looks at how hotels are adapting to keep guests safe, while weighing up the pros and cons of some of the most widely used cleaning methods available.
Guests checking intoThe Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills might just bump into the hotel’s latest line in cleaning defence against coronavirus – a three-foot-tall robot called Kennedy. It’s a machine designed to kill the virus by flashing intense, germ-killing ultraviolet light through the room after the room has undergone the usual cleaning by Kennedy’s human co-workers.
Along similar lines, ultraviolet light (UVC) disinfection lamps designed to sanitise all exposed room surfaces and frequent touch-points and UV-C disinfection, or germicidal ultra-violet irradiation (UVGI) as it is known are available to hoteliers. This technology was first introduced in the 1900s and is widely used in hospitals as part of standard disinfection protocols. Compared to familiar disinfection methods that use liquid and powder-based disinfectants, ultraviolet disinfection lamps use no chemicals and leave no residue or by-products.
Other cleaning processes include the traditional deep clean, fogging, and electrostatic spraying of course – or a combination of these methods.
The received wisdom is that you can’t kill off germs or viruses without effective deep cleaning. This is the removal of soiling, visible of invisible, from a surface, sanitising to reduce bacteria and germs, followed by disinfection to remove bacteria and germs.This service is usually charged per square foot, based on the companies Hotel Scotland has spoken to.
You can sanitise a surface without necessarily cleaning it first or you can have one product or process that does both. But you cannot disinfect without first thoroughly cleaning.That’s why it’s important to deep clean if you want to disinfect. A thorough physical deep clean requires that the operative must physically touch every part of a surface, requiring diligence, plus the risk to operatives is arguably greater.The risk of human error is also a factor.
Fogging is atomising a chemical to apply it directionally as a mist. It disperses this fine mist or fog of high-grade disinfectant that kills pathogens.
The particles are so small that they remain suspended in the air long enough to kill both airborne and surface-based viruses as well as bacteria in hard to reach places such as ceilings, walls, crevices as well as furniture, floors, and equipment.
Fogging is directional and so the operative could arguably miss a spot using this method, yet one of the upsides of this method is that they don’t have to physically touch surfaces.
Electrostatic spraying applies a coating, cleaner, disinfectant, or other liquid that is applied with an electric charge so that it fully coats a surface.The electrostatic charge clings to surfaces but it may not guarantee the full coverage of, say, a deep clean – i.e. on every single surface.
Stephen Montgomery is the owner ofThe Townhouse Hotel in Lockerbie whose staff are now taking significantly longer to clean guest rooms, plus he has invested in his own fogging and swabbing equipment once he got a pre-reopening industrial deep clean after lockdown.
He said, “We have eight bedrooms and each one now takes an extra 15 – 20 minutes for a turndown. A complete strip-down now takes approximately 45 minutes. A full exit is now about an hour and 20 minutes compared to half an hour pre-pandemic. All of this has a wages impact.
“Before we reopened after lockdown we got a company to do a complete deep clean.This entailed a deep clean and a fogging machine, for which they charged per square foot, plus they took swabs before and after, the results from which we posted on social media and this proved to be good for boosting customer confidence going on all the positive feedback we got.
“We have since purchased our own fogging and swabbing machines, which can be quite fun as well as keeping housekeeping on their toes because the swabbing machine gives readings on lots of things in addition to COVID.You input all the readings from all types of surfaces – like remote controls, light switches, etc. – plus the room number. The machine then selects at random a room and a surface to spot-check going forward.”
Stephen’s staff also disinfect all dining tables and chairs in between sittings and the tables are now completely clear. Cutlery is stored in pouches and we have disposable condiments. The hotel also has old Highway Code ‘Give Way’ signs at the foot of the stairs to try and inject some fun as guests adapt to this new normal.
Crerar Hotels was the first hotel group in Scotland to be accredited by both the Good to Go scheme by Visit Scotland, and also for the AA’s Covid-19 Confident scheme for its ‘Cleanliness Commitment’ which includes
deep cleaning and decontamination processes. Bedrooms and bathrooms are covered by an ‘intelligent fogging system’ which will is deployed just before check-in to disinfect areas.
Dale MacPhee, General Manager Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, told us that guest rooms are now sealed after being disinfected. She explained,“Hilton has identified 10 high-touch point areas in guestrooms including switches and electronic controls, handles, hard surfaces, bedding, and climate controls, as areas where extra cleaning and disinfecting will be done and all printed materials have been removed.
“All guest rooms are sealed by our housekeeping team after deep cleaning and disinfection.The seal confirms no one has accessed the room since being cleaned. Elevators are being cleaned even more frequently and only one person or household may travel in the elevator at one time.”
Marriott International has a ‘commitment to clean’ policy across its entire business requiring that surfaces are treated with hospital-grade disinfectants. The company will also be placing disinfecting wipes in each room for guests’ personal use.
Electrostatic sprayers are used to sanitise surfaces in conjunction with air purifying systems to eliminate viruses in the air and on surfaces.
Food safety-wise, Marriott is also enhancing sanitation guidelines and training videos for associates that include hygiene and disinfecting practices.The company is also modifying its operational practices for in-room dining and designing new approaches to buffets.
The Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) has adopted a ‘Way of Clean’ protocol that includes deep cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants.
In guest rooms there is visible verification of sanitised items (e.g., glassware, remote control), reduction of in-room furnishings/high-touch items, and new laundry protocols. Additional deep cleaning of public spaces and facilities includes high-touch surfaces,‘last cleaned’ charts, best practices for pools, fitness centres and lounges.
Several cleaning companies are offering various solutions to hotels in Scotland, such as Sanitise Plus, Capital Power Plus, Clean Ice Scotland, and B&G Cleaning Services.
Clean-Mist West Scotland specialises in the application of non-toxic, eco-friendly decontamination solutions against surface and airborne pathogens. The company
has been using a form of hypochlorous acid (more commonly known as HOCL or nature’s disinfectant) as a means of eradicating pathogens in ice machines under the guise of its sister company Clean Ice West Scotland.
This first came to light when, working in partnership with Cornwall Council, Clean- Mist West Scotland was looking for a safe but effective chemical to deal with the build-up of bacteria in these notorious havens of disease. HOCL fitted the bill because it was not only very effective, but it is also recognised as being completely safe for humans, animals, plants and the environment.
The chemical, which is a form of something that is naturally produced in the body to fight infection, was deemed to be a great help in curbing the spread of coronavirus in South Korea and other parts of Asia and is now being used to spray many public areas.The UK government has now authorised trials to evidence its effectiveness.
Tom Reynolds, Managing Director, Capital Power Clean Ltd is offering a service that safeguards the planet’s safety as well as that of your customers. He said,“Tersano’s revolutionary Stabilised Aqueous Ozone systems allows us to now offer a single,
natural and safe product, to clean, sanitise and deodorise in all areas of the hospitality industry.
“Created on-demand from normal tap water, Tersano SAO replaces traditional chemical cleaning products as a cost-effective cleaner and disinfectant, proven to combat the current Coronavirus and a wide range of other
viruses, bacteria, pathogens, general soiling, and malodour, without risk to people or the planet.”
And no hotel can afford not to offer hand sanitising. Wayne Lyons, owner of Sanitise Plus said, “Sanitise Plus has developed and produced commercial Sanitising Stations.These cost- effective, touch-free units, automatically deliver a fine mist of high quality, alcohol-based sanitising liquid direct to the users’ hands. The units come in wall-mounted or stand-alone versions.”
Hotels in Scotland might not quite have anything to rival Kennedy the robot yet but there is innovation happening right here in Scotland right now. Glasgow-based company Insite uses an American product called Stepan, which has recently been listed as meeting the US Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control’s criteria for killing Covid-19.The company has devised a process using the product which it is now using to clear premises of harmful bacteria.
Bellshill-based Biotech firm Andersen Caledonia, meanwhile, has developed surface- testing technology that can detect even tiny traces of Covid-19. Undoubtedly cleaning methods, products and services is a growth industry and one we at Hotel Scotland will be watching with interest.