Goodbye to five-star buffets

Goodbye to five-star buffets

From sanitising guest cars tyres to doing away with self-serve spreads, luxury hotels are learning the new rules of the game

The hospitality industry thrives on personalisation and warmth. But Covid-19 has changed all that as hotels prepare to maintain social distancing.

Since last week, the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), in collaboration with the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), has been conducting training programmes on Covid-19 awareness for hospitality professionals across the country. 

The training covers receiving of raw materials, guest service, lobby management, and maintenance of rooms after the lockdown is lifted. 

Pradeep Shetty, joint honorary secretary of FHRAI, tells Metrolife, “Sales are going to be low but hotels will have to work with restrictions. There will be a lot of additional costs and contactless service is going to be a must.” 

Hotels in Bengaluru have already started preparing for the new normal. “We have taken a series of precautionary measures, including increased disinfection of guest rooms and public areas and enhanced food procurement and handling procedures,” a spokesperson for Shangri-La hotel says.

Change in layout 

Hotels across the country are finding new ways to rework their restaurant layout in order to main social distancing and minimum contact. 

A popular international hotel chain is working towards introducing digital menus where customers use their own mobile phones to place their orders. 

Unlike in stand-alone restaurants, the use of disposable cutlery does not suit the standards of luxury hotels. The hotel staff will wash cutlery with company-standard soaps and ensure it is safe to use. 

There will also be no self-service brunches and buffets at hotels anymore. According to the new guidelines, staff will have to serve the guests (and fellow-employees at the staff cafeteria) to minimise touch. 

Every hotel will have a quarantine section if a guest shows infection after staying at the premises. If necessary, an area will be turned into an isolation zone. 

From step one 

Dr Himanshu Talwar, assistant secretary-general of FHRAI, explains, “Every time a guest is picked up and dropped, the vehicle has to be sanitised, including the tyres. When the guests enter, there will be a mandatory temperature check and sanitisation of their bag using sanitiser that doesn’t damage the luggage.” 

The check-in will be digital and the guests will be guided to their rooms with a minimum exchange of articles. The ID cards of the guest will be placed on the tray and returned in the same manner. 

The staff will take the food from the kitchen and deliver it to the guest but will not serve them.

Social distancing

For every 10 feet, only three people are allowed in the kitchen. 

One of the major challenges hoteliers are facing is to convince their staff to come back to work. While online and offline training helps, insiders tell Metrolife there’s a long way to go to ensure that the staff are comfortable. 

 

Here’s what is new

Digital menus only; no printed menus any more

New layouts at restaurants to ensure physical distancing

In kitchen, only three employees in a radius of 10 ft

Strict sanitation rules for vendors entering the hotel

Mandatory temperature test on guest arrival

Disinfection of cars, tyres, luggage, cash

After a guest leaves, room vacant for 48 hours

No pools

Spas and swimming pools at hotels will not open until solutions for safety and disinfection are found.

Throw-out items

Once a room is vacated, it will be cleaned and sanitised thoroughly. The next guest can use that room only after 48 hours. Razors, soaps, and coffee, tea, sugar and cookie packets will be thrown out after every guest leaves. 

Frequently asked questions

Dr V Pasupathy, advisor to the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India, has been conducting webinars where hoteliers are trained on what to do post-lockdown.

When guests come in, are sanitisers enough? 

Handwash is a must and you can use sanitiser along with it. 

What is the process of garbage disposal if the bin is outside? 

Wear a mask, cover your face and the rest of the process is the same as any other disposal. In the case of disposing of the gloves, don’t touch it directly and keep it in the closed bin instead of an exposed area. 

What about outside vendors? 

Insist they wear masks and sanitise themselves. Tell contractors not to send staff who are unwell. Avoid paper bills and opt for digital ones. 

Can guests still give signed cheques? 

No, go in for digital transactions. 

How do you sanitise currency notes? 

Go digital as much as possible. In case you can’t do that, quarantine the cash for 24 hours.

How often should tables be cleaned? 

The tables should be cleaned with a soap solution, as recommended by your house-keeping department, after every guest. Every three hours, sanitise it with 70 per cent alcohol. 

What should we do if customers don’t follow the guidelines? 

Ask them to leave. It’s not worth taking the risk.

Can I still run a pet hotel? 

There is no proof that animals spread the virus, so it’s fine. If the pet parent is not hygienic, you have to be careful. 

Should we always wear gloves? 

Yes, but not when you’re working in the hot kitchen.