Hotels are hoping for an upswing in travel and want you to know your experience will be safer, and cleaner, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Picture this: You use your hotel’s app on your phone to ask for extra towels. Your phone rings and you hear that your delivery is ready. Open the door and you find a 3-foot-tall bellhop has arrived with your linens.
Were you picturing a robot? Because at certain Hilton and Marriott hotels across California, a robot is what you’d find.
The industry and experts say that it’s relatively safe to stay in a hotel during the coronavirus pandemic — as long as you’re adhering to protocols like wearing masks and social distancing. One surefire way to ensure you can socially distance during your stay is to have a robot deliver items to your room.
At the Hotel Trio in Healdsburg, California (a Marriott hotel), Rosé the “social distancing robot ambassador” has been available to entertain guests since it opened in July 2018. But beginning in March, Rosé became more than just an entertainer.
Rosé can bring you anything, either in-house or via a complimentary shopping service: think wine, pillows, pet treats, towels and groceries; the robot is sanitized after each delivery.
Did somebody say wine delivery? (Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Trio)
“For guests who prefer contactless deliveries, Rosé provides them with peace of mind as she can deliver items to their suite,” Scott Satterfield, general manager of Hotel Trio, said in a statement.
You may be wondering if Rosé replaces staff members who might otherwise be delivering items. That’s not the case: The robot can’t carry luggage, make beds or take reservations.
Other robots can be found across Marriott and Hilton properties in the Los Angeles area : Embassy Suites by Hilton Los Angeles International Airport, Residence Inn by Marriott Los Angeles LAX/Century Blvd, Homewood Suites by Hilton Los Angeles International Airport, H Hotel Los Angeles, Curio Collection by Hilton, Residence Inn by Marriott Beverly Hills and AC Hotel by Marriott Beverly Hills.
Each hotel at the properties had a robot available pre-pandemic, though now they are much more popular. Katie Green, general manager at Residence Inn by Marriott Los Angeles LAX, said in a statement that their robot, Wally, has experienced “so much usage that he recently underwent a reboot. Now he has even more pep in his step.”
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Hotels are also using robots for cleaning amid COVID-19
Of course, that’s not the only thing robots can be useful for at hotels during the coronavirus pandemic. They can assist with hotels’ intense cleaning regimens, given new guest and industry expectations for cleanliness.
In Texas, the Westin Houston Medical Center hotel sprang into immediate action in March, adding two virus-zapping robots.
Used in hospitals, the LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots, made by San Antonio-based Xenex Disinfection Services and costing about $100,000 each, emit broad-spectrum ultraviolet light to destroy viruses and bacteria within minutes. They do not replace the hotel’s regular cleaning: they go in afterward and provide a super-sterilizing second blast without added chemical risk.
“On one level, we have given everything a deep clean and increased the frequency of cleaning the public areas, but we further enhanced our routine by adding the two robots,” says Archit Sanghvi, vice president of operations for Pearl Hospitality, which owns and operates this Westin franchise.
Sister properties Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and The Beverly Hilton in California are also using the Xenex LightStrike robots. They will run for eight to 10 minutes in each room, and will also help clean public restrooms, elevators, kitchens, meeting rooms and to disinfect luggage.
Direct exposure to general UV light is dangerous to human tissue, so, after set-up, the robots work alone, overnight in the public areas and also in each guest room after checkout.
“It is an expensive investment,” Sanghvi adds, “but we know we made the right decision because this is going to be the norm, sadly.”
Contributing: Linda Laban
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