Bangkok, the world’s most visited city, is readying the runway for tourists, and its new digs should be a wake-up call to anyone itching to jet away.
Its hotels are deploying facial-recognition tools and touch-free buttons in elevators. Buffets are disappearing. Want to eat at a local restaurant? You might have to deal with plastic dividers on your table. Room service? The server will leave the cart outside your room.
Bangkok was among the first major cities to jump-start its hospitality sector, but across the rest of the world, plans to reopen hotels look similar: Expect temperature checks on arrival, branded PPE, and one-way hallways marked with signs on the floor.
Sorry, sir, but this hotel, motel, Holiday Inn is maxed out
Don’t be alarmed by the empty lobby — hotels are leaving many of their rooms open on purpose. The Eden Roc Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, for instance, has already promised it won’t exceed 30% capacity.
That’s in part because many hotels won’t usher new guests into your room the day you check out. Best Western has said its cleaning staff will wait at least 24 hours before even entering rooms after guests leave.
And don’t forget: Check-in is happening curbside now. Key cards? They have to be sanitized too much, so hotels are switching to mobile locks. If you want a bathrobe, you’re going to have to ask for it. Bellhops, valets, minibars, decorative throw pillows, desk notepads — those are all on the outs.
Please no one tell Mr. Worldwide any of this, because he will be devastated. That afterparty in the hotel lobby? Also a no-go.
In the new hotel economy, only some will triumph
Don’t leave the light on for Motel 6, because Forbes predicts that when hotels do roar back into action, luxury travel will be the first to take off. The big reason: Privacy.
Some ritzy hotels are already courting the sophisticado class with, as one French resort put it, “luxury and exclusiveness.” Translation: You won’t have to interact with other humans.
Kid-free hotels might be another big winner. According to one tech travel group, 65% of new hotel bookings are for couples, up from 51% in the fall — because which parents don’t need a little social distancing from their tweens right now?