A lot of us stayed put for the better part of 2020, which while safe, can be a little frustrating. If you’re getting a little antsy for a change of scenery or feeling sad that you won’t be able to travel to see loved ones this holiday season, planning a staycation may be an opportunity for a lower-risk opportunity to grab some time away.
Wondering how to maximize your local “trip” beyond the obvious precautions (mask up, wash your hands, and get tested) and adhering to your city’s guidelines? We’ve got you covered. We tapped the team from the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn for recommendations for every step of your stay, from what to consider before booking to outdoor-dining best practices.
Select your “destination” thoughtfully
If you’re going to spend extra money to sleep an Uber ride away from your apartment, consider where you’re spending your money. Do you need to stay at a big chain resort? A local hotel may make the experience feel unique. Smaller properties also make for less foot traffic, and recently updated properties may mean better circulation.
“All of our rooms have their own individual HVAC systems, concrete heated floors that are easier to clean, and windows that open for more fresh air,” says Simone Hanscom, the room sales director at the Wythe Hotel. (Heated concrete over rugs? Yes!)
In addition, putting your dollars behind properties that have helped their communities during the pandemic will aid the staff that made a valuable contribution to those in need. With only 70 rooms, the Wythe Hotel donated 2,000 nights and is among a handful of properties that housed frontline workers to prevent doctors and nurses from bringing COVID-19 home to their families. Room Mate Grace Hotel and Four Seasons New York in Manhattan also donated rooms for frontline workers, while the St. Regis, The Plaza, and Yotel New York allowed noncritical-care patients to stay as well.
Maximize social distancing
Look up or call the property to see if they have virtual check-in. Not only will this get you into your room quicker, but it’ll also cut down on any potential crowding at the front desk and make for less time around people.
You’ll definitely want to make sure your phone has a full charge because a lot of restaurants are doing QR code menus and allowing guests to pay by phone for less hand-to-hand contact. And when dining, Simone says, “I also like to make sure I’m putting all of my silverware onto the plate so it’s easier for the staff to pick up.”
Don’t forget the obvious: masks!
Even if you’re staycationing in a city that’s lax on masks, mask up for the staffs’ sake. It’s important for your arrival, parking, and time spent in any common spaces on the property. Peter Lawrence, the Wythe’s owner and general manager, adds an important reminder: “When the guests are in their hotel room and order room service, the guys will turn up at the door in their mask, and we need the guests to be in their mask too.”
As I’m sure most hotels do, Simone also points out, “We have masks for guests if people forget them!”
“The biggest thing is for people to not feel silly about asking questions. Because all of these businesses—large and small—have been left to figure out how to do this responsibly with very little direction from the federal government (and even local governments), everybody’s doing it slightly differently,” Peter says.
Just as when we greet people and negotiate whether hugs, fist bumps, or waving from 6 feet is appropriate, Peter encourages guests to ask a lot of questions. “The more of a conversation, the better chance that the guest is really comfortable and feels safe. The communication piece is really important,” he says, especially as guidelines are subject to change at a day’s notice.
The biggest tip, though, is to tip big!
“The staff are facing all the same stresses that guests are about exposure, their health, and all of that stuff. I’d guarantee that they’re walking three or four times as far as they used to to cover the same number of guests under these circumstances. Plus, they’re taking three or four additional steps to sanitize everything,” Peter points out.
The more patience guests have, the better the “trip” they’ll have. He says, “There’s a lot of stuff that’s still going on in the background taking a toll on the people that are bringing you your awesome roast chicken and french fries.” So, add a little more on top of that standard 20 percent!
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