Cleaning, Cancellation Policies & More: How Hotel Chains Handle COVID-19
hotel chain covid-19

Cleaning, Cancellation Policies & More: How Hotel Chains Handle COVID-19

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As more and more Americans consider travel, safety, cleanliness, and the flexibility to cancel are all high priorities. Airlines have led the way with new cleaning procedures, blocking middle seats, and giving consumers some unprecedented flexibility to change plans without paying big fees.

In many ways, the nation’s largest hotel chains are going even farther. From Choice Hotels to Wyndham, the biggest hotel chains have all implemented face mask policies, more frequent cleaning, and easy ways to book with the ability to get a refund.

But beware: It’s up to each individual property to enforce these new COVID-19 standards, and that’s not always a sure thing. And local government regulations may affect restaurants, gyms and pools, and mask requirements.

Here’s a breakdown of how each of the big hotel chains has changed things up for COVID-19.

 

Choice Hotels

Mask Requirements

Mask requirements are based on local government regulations. Check online for any requirements for the area you’re visiting.

Check-In Process

Choice has increased cleaning of reception areas.

In-Room Cleaning

Most Choice hotels are independently owned and operated so cleaning procedures may vary. Choice has provided online training and resources from Ecolab.

Breakfast & Dining

Hotels that provide breakfast have replaced buffets with pre-packaged food.

Fitness & Pool

Fitness rooms and pools are cleaned with more frequency.

Cancellation Policy

If you book directly with Choice Hotels on or after July 10, 2020, for arrival dates before September 30, 2020, you can cancel or change within 24 hours of arrival for no fee. Changes in reservations are subject to availability and room rate changes.

If you book on or after July 10, 2020, for stays after October 1, 2020, the individual hotel’s cancellation policy applies.

 

Hilton

Mask Requirements

Face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces of Hilton hotels in the United States.

Check-In Process

Hilton Honors members can use the Hilton app to check-in and bypass the front desk. All other guests must check-in at the front desk but there are added precautions such as plexiglass to separate guests from reception agents.
 

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Hampton Inn & Suites Zion National Park, photo courtesy of Hilton

 

In-Room Cleaning

In-room cleaning procedures have been enhanced due to COVID-19. Hilton boasts a new CleanStay process includes cleaning of all touched surfaces like light switches, remotes, and door handles. Each room will also have disinfectant wipes for guests to use.

Breakfast & Dining

What is available for breakfast will vary by property. Some will offer grab-and-go options, pre-plated service, or possibly limited seated service for breakfast. Any on-property restaurants open for indoor service will be set up for social distancing.

Fitness & Pool

Fitness rooms are open but with limited hours to allow for more frequent cleaning. They have been rearranged to allow for social distancing and there is a limit to the number of people allowed at a time.

Pools are open with social distancing measures in place and are being cleaned more frequently.

Cancellation Policy

Any reservation made between March 12, 2020 and Aug. 31, 2020 can be changed or canceled up to 24 hours before arrival at no charge.

 

Hyatt

Mask Requirements

Face coverings are required in all public spaces inside Hyatt hotels located in the U.S. and Canada.

Check-In Process

Hyatt has contactless express check-in and check-out process with Hyatt Mobile Entry.

In-Room Cleaning

There is an enhanced cleaning process for the rooms, including all frequently touched areas.

Breakfast & Dining

Grab-and-go meal options are available. For other dining options, check the specific property.

Fitness & Pool

Fitness rooms are open and are cleaned with increased frequency. There is also free fitness on demand that can be used right from your room. For pools, check with the specific property.

Cancellation Policy

Any Hyatt property booked from July 1, 2020 and onward for stays through July 31, 2021 can be changed or canceled for free at least 24 hours before arrival.

 

IHG Hotels

Mask Requirements

Face coverings are required in public spaces in all IHG properties in the Americas.

Check-In Process

There is reduced contact with check-in screens and sanitizing stations.

In-Room Cleaning

IHG has reduced in room-furnishing and removed high-touch items. There are new laundry protocols and they’ve added new cleaning procedures.  At select hotels, they’ve even implemented electrostatic cleaning. Guests can request individual cleaning kits.
 

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Holiday Inn Yellowstone, photo courtesy of IHG

 

Breakfast & Dining

Check with the specific property to find out about dining options.

Fitness & Pool

This varies by property, so check with your hotel to find out if the fitness center and pools are open with any new cleaning or social distancing procedures.

 

Cancellation Policy

All IHG hotels have tiered pricing for each room, but you’ve got two options for flexible cancellation policies.

Their “Book Now, Pay Later” price requires booking at least three days in advance. The other tier is the “Best Flexible Rate” which allows for last-minute bookings. Both allow free cancellation within 24 hours of arrival.

IHG also offers other, cheaper pricing options that may not be fully refundable. Pay close attention to the cancellation policies of whichever room rate you choose.
 

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Marriott

Mask Requirements

Masks are required in public spaces of all Marriott hotels in North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

Check-In Process

There are partitions at the front desk and hand sanitizing stations.

In-Room Cleaning

All surface areas are cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectants in guest rooms. Disinfectant wipes are available for guest use in each room.

Breakfast & Dining

Check with the specific property to find out about dining options.

Fitness & Pool

Check with your hotel to find out if the fitness center and pools are open with any new cleaning or social distancing procedures.

Cancellation Policy

For reservations made on or after July 6, 2o20 for stays through Sept. 30, 2020, guests can cancel up to 24 hours prior to arrival with no fee. For new reservations made for Oct. 1, 2020 or later, individual hotel cancellation policies apply.

 

Radisson Hotels

Mask Requirements

Mask requirements are based on local governments. Check online for any requirements for the area you’re visiting.

Check-In Process

Protective barriers have been installed at check-in. There is also no-contact express check out available.

In-Room Cleaning

All high-touch surface areas are thoroughly cleaned. Each room has a travel-sized hand sanitizer.

Radisson says it plans to improve air circulation and air quality in every room in all of their hotels.

Breakfast & Dining

Grab-and-go options are available at select hotels and restaurants all follow social distancing measures. Check with the specific property to find out what is open.

Fitness & Pool

Sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are available in fitness centers and pools.

Cancellation Policy

Existing reservations made before April 1, 2020, for stays through Aug. 31, 2020, can be changed for free. Cancellations can also be made for free unless if you’ve already made a deposit, in which case it will be refunded as a credit good for one year. If the credit isn’t used within one year it will then be fully refunded.

New reservations made through Aug. 31, 2020 changes and cancellations can be made with no charge. If a deposit has been paid you will either get a full refund or a voucher to use in the future.

 

Wyndham Hotels

Mask Requirements

Masks are required in all public spaces in Wyndham hotels in the U.S. and Canada.

Check-In Process

There is a new socially distanced check-in process. Each guest will receive disinfectant wipes.

In-Room Cleaning

Wyndham has enhanced in-room cleaning. Each room will also have a complimentary hand-sanitizer bottle.

Breakfast & Dining

Check with the specific property to find out about dining options.

Fitness & Pool

Check with the specific property to find out if the fitness center and pools are open and any new cleaning or social distancing procedures.

Cancellation Policy

Each hotel has its own cancellation policy. Many of them have extremely flexible policies and allow no-fee cancellations up to the day of arrival.

 

Bottom Line

Which hotel chain is doing it best? It depends.

Statements outlining new cleaning policies and socially distanced check-in procedures are one thing. But it comes down to each individual hotel to follow through, and that’s no sure thing. It’s worth looking at recent reviews to get an idea of what your hotel is actually doing.

As for cancellation policies, additional flexibility to cancel as close as 24 hours before arrival has become the norm. And at this rate, we expect that to stick around for a long time.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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