As travel restrictions ease, luxury properties are preparing for guests, albeit in “new normal” configurations.
Mahmoud Elikeiy, General Manager of the Four Seasons Cairo at the First Residence told Business Traveler USA that the luxury travel group was working with management to standardize methods of creating an appropriate environment for the return of guests with up-to-date sanitary and health and safety methods.
“I cannot tell you when business will come back but we think that by mid-June we will see some slow return of guests in a “new normal” scenario,” he says. Elikeiy says the pandemic in Egypt is “well-controlled” which has helped the hotel to look at a late May reopening. He says that the property’s reopening will be “controlled and social distanced.”
The hotel’s restaurants at their property and at the adjacent First Nile Boat will remain closed for now. A full back and front of the house cleaning is currently underway. The hotel’s pool and other areas like sauna, steam rooms and spa will be closed. All of the hotel’s staff, including front desk personnel, will wear masks, although guests will not be mandated to wear them.
“The whole idea of service and interaction will be changed,” Elikeiy explains. “Interaction with guest service, interaction with the front desk will be changed, luggage will need to be disinfected. For the coming three weeks we will be training our staff to deal with this social distancing.”
Other changes will include limousine service configured with a glass separating the driver from the guest, sanitizing gel stations throughout the hotel and a new front of the house entrance cubicle that disinfects guests and their luggage with a colorless, odorless powder spray.
“It is harmless and will be used at many locations in Egypt,” Elikeiy says. “Guests will also be having their temperature taken at arrival at the airport and the hotel.”
Although Elikeiy sees leisure travel in the luxury sphere returning to something resembling “normal” he says that about 30 percent of conferences may not. “People are conferencing with Zoom and other media and that aspect of travel may not return to normal,” he says.
Instead, “intrepid” travelers from markets like China and Latin America may step in to fill in the breach. “We are very excited about these new markets,” Elikeiy says.