As East End hotels prepare to welcome summer guests in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the new must-have amenities will include face masks made from luxurious fabric, chic dispensers for hand sanitizer, body temperature scanners, aesthetically pleasing dividers to ensure people maintain six feet of social distance, and other items that allow people to feel safe and pampered.
“We had to re-envision how we provide luxury service,” said Michael Snell, a spokesman for the Baker House 1650 in East Hampton and the founder of the MJS Groupe marketing firm. The inn, which has been closed since late March, will reopen on Friday, May 15, with a regimen for hourly cleaning of common areas. Staff will be wearing gloves, face masks made from a William Morris fabric “that’s in keeping with the inn,” and there will be new no-touch soap and hand sanitizer dispensers in bathrooms and seating areas. “If you search hard enough you can find very elegant dispensers,” he said.
Room accessories that cannot be easily sanitized, such as coffee table books, have been removed, and the hotel will be allotting three hours to clean rooms between guests. The cleaning process will include giving fixtures a once-over with an ultraviolet-light-sanitizing wand.
Indoor and outdoor dining areas will be arranged to allow for social distancing, and the hotel will offer “touch-free” breakfast and brunch, meaning the food will now be served by waiters rather than self-serve.
The protocols have been designed to take into account the psychological toll the pandemic has had on people, said Mr. Snell.
“We want to make guests feel at ease, we want them to see and smell the cleaning,” he said.
When guests arrive, they will be greeted from a safe distance, informed about the precautions the hotel has taken, and asked about how much interaction they want to have with staff. Those who would like to have their luggage taken to the room, a tour of the property, daily room cleaning, and turn-down service will be accommodated, he said, as will guests who want minimal contact. “We’ll have to gauge their comfortability. We don’t want to remove any experience of normalcy, and we don’t want the hotel to feel so sterile that it loses its charm.”
“Even with all of our new updates, the Baker House charm, personality, and level of luxury remains unchanged,” Antonella Bertello, the inn’s owner, who was in Peru and unable to be interviewed by phone, said via email.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Southampton Inn has been open and housing 60 nurses who have been working at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital as well as a few other guests traveling on essential business, said Dede Gotthelf, the owner. The nurses will be leaving next week, and the hotel will be opening for leisure travelers on May 20.
The new check-in process at the inn, she said, allows guests to be in charge of swiping their credit cards for payment, and retrieving their own keys, which will be encased in paper envelopes. The six feet of social distancing between guests and check-in clerks, she said, will be delineated with “cute white chain stanchions,” and, upon arrival, guests will receive a beach bag that contains masks and gloves.
The inn’s restaurant, Claude’s, will be temporarily transformed into Claude’s 2020 the Great American Picnic, a more Covid-mindful eatery that will allow guests to fill a picnic basket with individually wrapped sandwiches, salads, fruits, cheese, desserts, and beverages. Tables will be covered with disposable paper, and spread out across the property, including in the hotel’s 1,000-square-foot ballroom and its courtyard.
The hotel has procured two thermal body scanners that will be used to monitor the health of its staff, said Ms. Gotthelf, and the housekeeping crew will be wearing gloves, and masks emblazoned with the hotel’s logo.
“We had hundreds of cancellations, and now we’re getting hundreds of calls,” she said. The pandemic, however, may still have an impact on business. “It’s going to be a challenge for us because we’re used to having a lot of international travelers, and corporate groups, and weddings,” she said. “That was 40 percent of our guests last year. But people won’t be going on cruises or traveling internationally, so hopefully we’ll be considered a safe and welcoming destination.”
Mr. Snell is confident the East End will not only remain popular among travelers this summer but throughout the year. “The want for luxury services is so great right now,” he said.