My first new normal flight was to Italy, soon after it was included on the quarantine-free list for arrivals in the UK. This trip was also my first experience of a new normal hotel. Italy re-opened its borders to visitors on June 3 following a disastrous experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. I expected the hotels would have strict safeguards in place and I was not disappointed.
The New Normal Hotel Check-in Procedure
I stayed at the four star, family-run Hotel Lorenzetti on the outskirts of Madonna di Campiglio in the Italian region of Trentino. This hotel has a reputation for its great hospitality and excellent cuisine for many years. Notices at the entrance informed me I must be wearing a mask and use the hand sanitizer before entering the premises. I was already wearing a mask as I had travelled to the hotel by bus. Wearing face masks on public transport in Italy is compulsory (and enforced).
The receptionist, behind a Perspex screen, was wearing a face mask but the welcome was a warm as ever. After checking in I made my way to my room via the lift. A hand sanitiser was attached to the wall by the lift and a notice instructs guests to use it before entering the lift. There were had santisers in all the places regularly used by guests. These included the entrance to the restaurant and the bar. Guests had to wear masks all the time when in the public areas of the hotel but could remove them when sitting at a table to eat and drink.
The New Normal Service of Food
Many establishments, for example, British Airways airport lounges, have replaced buffets with service at the table. Some are using digital methods for ordering. Customers register the code for their table on a smartphone which allows them to access the menu and place their order. This reduces interaction between staff and customer but it also reduces choice.
Hotel Lorenzetti no longer offers an extensive salad buffet at dinner in a socially-spaced restaurant. But it has retained its breakfast buffet. Every item is in individual containers or paper bags. Guests must wear face masks while perusing the buffet and are requested only to handle the items they intend to eat. The attention to detail was impressive. Each bowl of cereal had a plastic cover and a covered container of milk to go with it. Small, plastic boxes contained slices of cheese or ham. Large baskets contained Individual rolls and croissants in paper bags identified by an example in a transparent plastic container.
The attention to detail was impressive. Waiters took orders for hot drinks and hot food and brought them to the table.
I enjoyed this new normal buffet and my first experience of a COVID hotel – I felt comfortable and protected.
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