COVID-19 spurred a demand for contactless services, and Marriott is now leaning into this by testing its new contactless arrival kiosks and markets, eliminating the need for face-to-face check-ins or snack purchases, respectively.
Stephanie Linnartz, the president of Marriott International, has reaffirmed in a press release that COVID-19 has pushed the need for contactless amenities. This echoes the sentiments shared across several industries, from credit card companies to airlines.
The kiosks, which help speed up the check-in process, can already be seen at several Marriott locations.
These locations include:
Moxy NYC Times Square
Courtyard New York Manhattan/Midtown East
TownePlace Suites Monroe
The kiosks will also soon be available at Marriott’s Moxy Miami South Beach location.
Guests can also grab their room keys from the kiosks, which are equipped with touchscreens that have “antimicrobial technology.”
Upon leaving, guests can also opt to check-out from the same kiosks, eliminating the need for any in-person interactions.
Similarly, the hotel giant is also testing its “grab-and-go marketplace” at two Maryland locations: the Fairfield Inn and Suites Frederick, and the Fairfield Inn and Suites Arundel Mills BWI Airport.
Craving a hot breakfast sandwich or a little cup of yogurt? Just head to the marketplace kiosks. These stands will offer a variety of both hot and cold snacks and drinks, including the daily complimentary breakfast.
Payments can then be made directly at the kiosks.
Marriott’s push for contactless services isn’t new.
The hotel giant already has contactless features that can be accessed through the Marriott Bonvoy app, including check-ins and outs, the room key, food orders, and service requests.
The new kiosk offerings “help streamline operations,” according to Marriott.
However, the hotel giant won’t be going fully digital, and is instead looking to “blend” contactless options with face-to-face interactions, according to Linnartz.
Sir Richard Lexington Sutton, one of the richest men in Great Britain, was found stabbed to death on Wednesday night, according to the local newspaper Dorset Echo.
The Dorset Police Department launched a murder investigation on Wednesday after finding the 83-year-old Baronet at his country estate, according to multiple reports from the media, including BBC News. Police were called to the scene by a concerned member of the public, according to the local newspaper.
Sutton was pronounced dead on the scene due to the stab wounds and an unidentified woman in her 60s, who is believed to be his wife, was airlifted to a local hospital. The police reported she remains in critical condition.
The police tracked a vehicle believed to be connected to the scene of the crime and arrested an unidentified 34-year-old man who authorities suspect is connected to the incident, according to a press release. The police said the suspect was known to the Sutton family.
Sutton was a high-profile hotel owner, known for his five-star hotels on Park Lane and Piccadilly in London.
The hotelier is listed as one of the country’s richest men on The Sunday Times Rich List. His net worth was valued at about $400 million and he placed No. 435 on the list of the nation’s 1,000 wealthiest residents, ranking above Mick Jagger and George Clooney.
Sutton was the 9th Baronet in the Sutton family and responsible for 7,000 acres of land across the country, according to the Dorset Echo.
A spokesman for the hotel chain Sir Richard Sutton Limited told the publication Sutton would be deeply missed.
“Sir Richard was passionately devoted to both his company and its people, setting the highest and standards for quality in the hotels, farming and property interests within the group,” the spokesperson said. “His loss will be felt by everyone within the company, those who worked with him, and his family who have lost an incredible individual. Our thoughts are with the Sutton family at this tragic time.”
The Dorset Police Department and Sir Richard Sutton Limited did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.
The holiday season is nearly upon us. But there’s speculation about whether people in the UK will be able to travel abroad due to the increased worry of coronavirus variants spreading and cases rising.
This uncertainty, along with COVID-19 restrictions, is turning more people towards domestic holidays to visit the British coastline, country parks and smaller towns and cities.
In accordance with UK government guidelines, hotels, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and other shared accommodation in England are allowed to open on May 17. This is the same date that international travel can continue.
While self-contained accommodation, which requires no shared facilities between guests, can reopen on April 12.
Insider spoke to a range of hotels, holiday parks and B&Bs, which are preparing for guests to come back and how their facilities will be run differently.
Travelodge, an independent UK chain hotel, which has more than 570 hotels across the UK, currently only allows keyworkers and those who need to travel for work to stay in its hotels, a spokesperson told Insider.
When asked if Travelodge will make the vaccine mandatory for guests, the spokesperson said: “We will continue to stringently follow government guidelines and policy in regards to operating in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Currently, the government does not require hotel guests to be vaccinated.
The situation is similar in holiday parks. Centre Parcs, which has five short-break holiday villages across the UK, will open on April 12 and have the same COVID-19 safety measures it had in place last year, spokesperson Simon Kay told Insider.
“In line with government guidelines we will not be requiring guests to have been vaccinated,” he said.
Haven Holidays, another chain of holiday parks in the UK, told Insider it’s planning to reopen all of its locations on April 12. A company spokesperson said the government haven’t sent Haven any details about COVID-19 passports and declined to comment on the implementation of them.
Hazelwood Farm B&B in York, in northern England, will also be carrying on with coronavirus measures. The owner, Annette McAnespie described making the vaccine mandatory as a “Catch 22 situation” and could be “construed as discriminatory.”
“I am lucky in that most of my gorgeous guests are retirement age so the stats are that most of them would have chosen to have had the vaccine and would have had their first jab, if not their second one too, by the time I can reopen,” McAnespie said.
At the other end of the country, the Penellen B&B, based in Cornwall – a popular holiday destination in south-west England – will open on May 17th with COVID-19 practices that were in place last year.
Paul and Barbara Goldingay, owners of The Penellen, told Insider that they are not making the vaccine mandatory because it would be too difficult to police.
Face masks stay on and social distancing remains
Travelodge said, like many other chain hotels, its safety measures include wearing face masks indoors, social distancing, contactless payment and checkout, and no housekeeping teams in guests’ rooms during their stay.
The Penellen and Hazelwood Farm’s coronavirus measures both include wearing face masks.
McAnespie is using two out of the three rooms available on Hazelwood Farm. She plans to steam-clean the curtains and remove cushions from the bedrooms as part of the B&B’s coronavirus policy. She told Insider she hopes to see the back of restrictions in September.
Center Parcs has had a surge in bookings recently, especially from the summer onwards, according to Kay.
COVID-19 safety measures in its holiday parks include fewer guests on-site, wearing face masks where necessary, social distancing in all areas including on beaches and a frequent and improved cleaning regime in the villages.
Haven Holidays, which owns 40 parks across the UK, will bring back the Clean and Safe Charter that it introduced in July. This includes a contactless check-in process, social-distancing measures in all public places, and cleaning teams in the parks.
Eating and dining in accommodation
Guests staying in Travelodge hotels won’t be able to dine in the restaurants or bars until June 21, when the rest of hospitality is allowed to open, per the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Hazelwood Farm B&B in York isn’t offering its usual breakfast buffet. McAnespie told Insider guests’ cold breakfast orders will be taken the evening before and hot breakfast orders will be taken the same morning with the waitress, Nettie, standing at a distance.
She said the B&B will try to stagger breakfast times for the three rooms as there are only two tables in the dining room with the option to also sit outside. Continental breakfast can also be delivered to the room, as well as any other takeaways from local pubs in the area, McAnespie added.
The Penellen said it will also be serving guests at the table, rather than offering a buffet service.
Holidays parks such as Center Parcs and Haven Holidays offer self-catered accommodation so guests can cook for themselves.
Other restrictions in place
Center Parcs’ Book with Confidence guarantee offers guests free cancellation and a full refund within six weeks of the arrival date, if they decide to no longer go on holiday to the village. They can also change the dates of their stay.
“It is clear that people want reassurance about the flexibility to cancel or change dates,” said Kay.
As part of Haven’s Caravan Cleanliness Guarantee, a specialist team member checks each holiday home after its been disinfected using virus-killing products and seals up the door. Guests are entitled to a full refund if the holiday home isn’t cleaned to its standards, the company said in a statement to Insider.
Similar to Center Parcs, the company’s Coronavirus Book with Confidence Guarantee means guests can cancel their booking between three and 28 days prior to arrival at no cost and be fully refunded, Haven said.
Paul and Barbara from The Penellen said the majority of bookings for this year are rescheduled from last year.
Their “main worry is people from the UK going on holiday overseas and then returning carrying a new variant,” they said.
“In our opinion, all borders should be closed for non-essential travel for the time being,” they added.
The Trump International Hotel, which the former president once called “one of the greatest hotels of the world,” has been impacted heavily by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as Trump’s departure from the White House two months ago.
When the hotel, located between the White House and the US Capitol, opened its doors four years ago, it quickly became a major draw for diplomats, lobbyists, Trump loyalists, and family members. The hotel’s steak restaurant was regularly fully booked, a former executive chef told CNN last month.
But since Trump left the White House and moved his base to the Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida, the atmosphere has been eerily quiet. One week after President Biden’s inauguration, the lobby was left largely vacant and waiters and staff members outnumbered the customers, the New York Times reported.
Sally Quinn, a local journalist who has written about the hotel, told the Guardian she “can’t imagine who goes there now.”
“We don’t even have tourists yet in Washington. I can’t imagine most people staying there when they come. I don’t know anybody who goes there or has gone there,” Quinn said.
Hotel staff has also confirmed that the number of visitors has dropped visibly.
One staffer, who did not want to be named, told CNN: “Since the coronavirus, we weren’t doing so bad until I’d say probably a month ago. It really, like, slowed down.”
Washington is currently in Phase Two of its reopening plan, according to a government website. This means that indoor restaurants and bars are allowed to be open but are only limited to 25% capacity. Hotels are also open.
But there is no doubt the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have hit the hotel industry brutally.
The Trump International Hotel made just $15.1m in revenue last year, a drop of more than 60% from the year before, the Guardian reported.
Hotel staff pretend they were supporters of the former president
Trump’s election loss and the January 6 Capitol insurrection, which happened only a few blocks away from the hotel, tainted its reputation further.
Last month, the Washingtonian reported that hotel employees at the Trump International had to pretend they were supporters of the former president, even though they weren’t.
According to the Washingtonian, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic triggered layoffs for all employees last year. But once shutdown restrictions lifted, workers said a new task became making sure Trump allies visiting the hotel – who often neglected public health guidelines – would wear a mask.
Asked about the hotel’s current occupancy and revenue numbers, Eric Trump, who runs day-to-day operations of the family real estate empire, praised the hotel in a statement without providing any specific figures.”Our location is unrivaled and we are incredibly proud to have the best hotel in our nation’s capital,” he said.
Trump reportedly tried to sell the hotel in 2019 for about $500m, but those plans are now said to be on hold. A room at the Washington DC hotel typically costs around $47 to $596 (£439) per night at this time of year, according to 1100 Pennsylvania.
Kevin Chaffee, the senior editor of Washington Life magazine, told the Guardian: “The Trump hotel has been struggling for quite a while and, without him being there, people don’t need to curry favor by staying there. Some embassies had their events there and they don’t need to do that now.”
He added: “The bar was like the White House mess but those people no longer have any reason to meet and try to find out what’s happening on the scene because the man is gone. So it must be like a ghost town.”
“We take pride in operating a highly inclusive environment and we believe that the facilitation of gatherings is a central element of what we do as a hospitality company,” a Hyatt spokesperson told Fox Business in response to hosting CPAC in its Hyatt Regency hotel in Orlando, Florida.
“We believe in the right of individuals and organizations to peacefully express their views, independent of the degree to which the perspectives of those hosting meetings and events at our hotels align with ours.”
The Hyatt spokesperson said the chain is responsible for creating an inclusive environment for all guests.
People initially took to Twitter over the weekend to call out the American hotel chain for hosting the conservative event, which is featuring speeches from Republican lawmakers, former White House officials, and former President Donald Trump. Many people took issue with the design of the event’s stage, which was reminiscent of symbol used by the Nazi party.