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Hoteliers Step Up COVID-19 Response with New Cleaning Programs

Major hotel groups are giving health and cleanliness protocols a big boost to reassure nervous travelers

Earlier this month, the American Hotel & Lodging Association introduced Stay Safe, an industry-wide, enhanced standard of health and safety protocols developed in conjunction with public health experts to advance best practices for protecting against the coronavirus. The guidelines include increasing the frequency of cleaning public areas, increasing the number of hand sanitizers available, using specialized products for wipedowns and training teams in protective protocols.

In addition to the AHLA standards, major hotel groups are launching their own initiatives on employee and guest health, employee responsibilities, cleaning products and protocols, and physical distancing. Many are also partnering with well-respected names in the medical sciences, as well as familiar brands in cleaning and sanitizing products.

Here is a roundup of what some of the big hotel groups are doing to combat the spread of COVID-19.


According to the French hotel group Accor, “Hotels and head offices are following official guidelines and closely monitoring the advice of medical and government authorities to limit the spread of this virus. These include isolating anyone showing any symptoms and notifying relevant medical authorities of anyone showing any signs of the disease.”

Last month, Accor announced it would be partnering with Bureau Veritas, a world-leading provider in testing, inspection and certification, in a program called Safe Guard Hygiene Excellence label.

According to a statement from Bureau Veritas, the label is “a suite of services including laboratory hygiene testing, hygiene and safety protocol audits, e-training programs, and continued monitoring of safety protocols to ensure businesses restart operations safely.” The label covers both accommodations and catering, and will set the sanitary standards applicable to all the group’s hotels as well as to other chains and independent hotels.

On May 18, Bureau Veritas announced the appointment of the Cleveland Clinic as its medical advisor.

Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Best Western rolled out its I Care Clean program in 2012, requiring its hotels to focus on guest high touch items and areas with standards such as usage of ultraviolet sterilization wands and TV remotes that can be disinfected.

With the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic, Best Western has introduced an enhanced program of cleaning protocols and breakfast standards, calling it We Care Clean. The measures are based on guidance from the CDC, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada.

The We Care Clean initiative focuses on five key areas:

1.  Front Desk and Lobby, with new protocols to minimize guest contact with personnel through a streamlined check-in and check-out process. Social distancing measures will be implemented, wellness best practices signs will be posted, and all lobby brochures, magazines and papers will be removed. Enhanced sanitization procedures will be used across guest touch points throughout the hotel and sanitizing stations or wipes will be available throughout hotels.

2. In guest rooms, unnecessary items such as decorative pillows, bed scarves, paper notepads and pens will be removed. Housekeeping services will be modified, including the elimination of a full cleaning service unless specifically requested by guests. Enhanced cleaning protocols will be implemented and guest rooms will not be entered for 24 to 72 hours after check-out, at which time the room, linens and all touch points, (faucets, door handles, light switches, etc.) will be cleaned with chemicals aimed at killing COVID-19.

3. While recognizing the importance of a quality breakfast, offerings have been adapted to prioritize the health and safety of guests. Breakfast rooms closed where required to avoid unnecessary guest congregation. Enhanced ‘Grab & Go’ offerings in most hotels will provide guests with pre-packaged food and beverage options.

4. When allowed to open, public amenities such as fitness centers, swimming pools and meeting rooms will be cleaned on closely monitored schedules with disinfecting chemicals, and also may be sanitized with electrostatic fogging, ozone generators or ultraviolet devices.

5. Hand sanitizer or wipes will be provided for guests and employees in all public areas. Hotel employees will follow strict guidelines, including utilizing Personal Protective Equipment and frequent and stringent hand-washing protocols.


Hilton’s new program is called CleanStay, or to be more accurate Hilton CleanStay with Lysol protection, as the program will be called in North America. RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, is the product partner, and the medical consultants are experts from Mayo Clinic’s Infection Prevention and Control team.

The program is scheduled to roll out June 1, and while full details are still being worked out, hotel brand standards under consideration include:

• Hilton CleanStay Room Seal placed on guestroom doors to indicate the room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned.

• 10 High-Touch, Deep Clean Areas – extra disinfection of the most frequently touched guests room areas – light switches, door handles, TV remotes, thermostats, etc.

• Remove pens, paper and guest directory

• Improved guidelines for disinfecting the hotel fitness center and limiting the number of guests allowed in at one time.

• Increase the frequency of cleaning public areas.

• Provide stations at primary entrances and key high traffic areas, for instance, a station to allow guests to wipe the elevator button before pressing.

• Hilton will continue to develop its Digital Key technology to give guests a contactless arrival experience using their mobile devices through the Hilton Honors mobile app, and expand the capabilities to common doors and access points throughout the hotels.

• Hilton is exploring the addition of new technologies, like electrostatic sprayers and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects.


Comprehensive COVID-19 guidance is in place at Hyatt hotels globally, detailing how to protect against transmission of the virus (including implementing hand sanitizer stations and frequent cleaning of high-touch areas), and procedures in case there is a suspected or confirmed case among our guests or colleagues

Cross-functional, global response teams, including infectious diseases and occupational health experts, provide guidance to our hotels and help address specific needs and situations when needed.

Intercontinental Hotels Group

IHG Hotels & Resorts has announced the IHG Clean Promise, an expansion of its longstanding ‘Way of Clean’ program which launched in 2015. The program partners with the Cleveland Clinic, Ecolab and Diversey.

The Clean Promise enhances the existing procedures – which already included deep cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants – with additional COVID-19 protocols and best practices, such as:

• Reception: Reduced contact at check-in, touchless transactions, front desk screens, sanitizer stations, sanitized key cards, paperless checkout.

• Guest Room: Visible verification of sanitized items (e.g., glassware, remote control), reduced in-room furnishings/high-touch items, new laundry protocols, use of new technology.

• Public Spaces and Facilities: Additional deep cleaning of high-touch surfaces, social distancing, “last cleaned” charts, best practices for pools, fitness centers and lounges.

• Food & Beverage: New standards and service approach to buffets, banquets, room service and catering.

The company is also working with medical experts from the Cleveland Clinic to further develop steps to help ensure the personal wellbeing of guests and IHG team members, including:

•Cleanliness information in hotels and on IHG’s booking channels

•Social distancing operating procedures and signage

•Guidance on the use of protective equipment as necessary by hotel colleagues

•Updated colleague training and certification

•Availability of individual guest amenity cleaning kits

•Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes available in guest rooms and at high-touch points throughout hotels.

The Clean Promise program is set to roll out June 1.

Kempinski Hotels

Kempinski says they are closely following the recommendations of global and local public health authorities (including the WHO and CDC). A global crisis committee is in place to guide and implement these recommendations in each of their properties.

Already stringent hygiene protocols have been reviewed and adapted to the current situation, the company says, and the frequency of all cleaning processes has been increased, including the disinfecting of all surfaces in rooms and public areas such as lobbies, elevators, the front desk, etc.

Teams have been given clear instructions on how to respond swiftly and appropriately to all presumed cases of coronavirus infection on property, and to provide full support to guests and employees, addressing their concerns.

Marriott International

Marriott has made big promises to its guests about hygiene. To meet them, the company has created the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council to focus on developing the next level of global hospitality cleanliness standards, norms and behaviors to minimize risk and enhance safety for consumers and Marriott associates alike.

The council is made up of both in-house and outside experts including senior leaders from Marriott as well as advisory members from Ecolab, Adventist Healthcare, Purdue University and Cornell University.

The company says enhanced technologies will be rolled out over the next few months, including electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant to clean and disinfect guest rooms, lobbies, gyms and other public areas. In addition, the company is testing ultraviolet light technology for sanitizing keys for guests and devices shared by associates.

New cleaning regimens include:

• In public spaces, the company has added to its already rigorous cleaning protocols, treating surfaces with hospital-grade disinfectants and with increased frequency. In guest rooms all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectants. Marriott will also be placing disinfecting wipes in each room for guests’ personal use.

• To maintain social distancing protocols, guests will see signage in lobbies and furniture will be removed or rearranged to allow more space for distancing. Marriott is also evaluating adding partitions at front desks and is working with supply chain partners to make masks and gloves available to associates.

The company is installing more hand sanitizing stations at high-traffic areas. In addition, at many Marriott properties, guests can use their phones to check in, access their rooms, make special requests and order room service that will be specially packaged and delivered without contact.

• Food Safety: Marriott’s food safety program includes enhanced sanitation guidelines and training videos for associates. In addition, the company is modifying its operational practices for in-room dining and designing new approaches to buffets.

Millennium Hotels & Resorts

Millennium Hotels and Resorts is doing the following

• Cleaning and sanitizing guest rooms, with frequent sanitization of high-contact points, such as elevator buttons, door handles, reception counters, bathrooms and conference rooms.

• Hand sanitizers placed at guest contact areas, such as hotel lobbies and conference space.

• Infrared thermometers available at front desk to conduct temperature checks of our guests and employees upon request, in certain jurisdictions and subject to availability.

• Provision of medical masks and gloves for our guests and employees upon request, subject to availability.

• Regular training of our employees ensuring proper hand hygiene and awareness of COVID-19. This is vital to help combat the spread of viruses and protect the health of our employees and guests.

Front desks are also well-equipped with hand sanitizers and infrared thermometers to facilitate regular temperature checks. Medical masks and gloves are also provided to guests and hotel staff when required. We conduct daily meetings with our employees to review any relevant situation. We conduct daily meetings with our employees to review any relevant situation.

Radisson Hotel Group

Radisson Hotel Group has introduced its Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a new program of in-depth cleanliness and disinfection procedures, in partnership with SGS, a company specializing in inspection, verification, testing and certification, and global hygiene solutions provider Diversey.

Radisson says it has conducted a thorough review of all existing health and safety processes and worked with a team of experts to develop additional protocols, which will be adapted based on local requirements and recommendations.

These guidelines include hand sanitizing stations at all entrances, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and protective screens, enhanced and recorded cleaning and disinfection frequency, social distancing in all areas of its hotels, including in the meeting and event facilities, training in local, CDC, or WHO recommendations and health guidelines, reiteration of food safety standards and comprehensive staff training.

The group will introduce an official label of cleanliness and disinfection issued by SGS confirmed through a centralized validation process. Under this program, individual hotels can receive an approval label upon completion of a comprehensive local audit including on-site testing using the latest technology.  

The group says in the next few weeks it will be announcing an extension to its brand commitment which includes 20 Steps and an additional 10-Step protocol for meetings and events. Some steps under consideration include:

•Increased cleaning and disinfection frequency of all hotel areas, paying special attention to high-touch items

•Stations installed with alcohol-based hand sanitizer and gloves at the front entrance and hotel public areas

•All room keys disinfected and presented safely upon check-in

•Express check-out process available for guests to minimize contact

•Cash-free methods of payments available and encouraged

•Door hangers displayed with cleaning and disinfection procedures in each room

•Comprehensive hygiene and preventions training programs for team members

•Team members provided with Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves