Sunday, 26 September 2021
HOTELS and bed and breakfasts in the Henley area are accepting guests again for the first time in more than three months.
Many decided to re-open on Saturday — the first day allowed — following the easing of the coronavirus lockdown measures.
They have made their bedrooms as safe as possible, have increased the frequency of cleaning and are encouraging social distancing.
Hotel du Vin in New Street, Henley, has installed hand sanitiser stations, which guests must use, in reception and the dining areas and there is clear signage and floor markings to encourage social distancing.
Acrylic screens have been fitted at service points, such as reception, for extra protection and guests can check in online before they arrive. Key cards for rooms will be handed out in plastic protectors. Rooms have been decluttered, including the removal of the mini-bar contents and other items, to help maintain hygiene levels. The bar and leisure facilities remain closed.
Scott Harper, chief operating officer of the hotel chain, said: “We’re confident that the changes we’re making exceed current health and safety standards, so that guests will be able to stay and wine and dine with peace of mind.
“We’re making significant yet necessary changes to our services in order to keep our commitment of delivering the best possible experience for guests, while operating in accordance with the latest guidance from the Government and local health authorities. We’ve marked out safe distances to ensure social distancing can be observed by guests and employees throughout our hotels.
“We have invested in protection screens as well as PPE for our staff.
“The big priority will be on increasing the scope, depth and frequency of cleaning throughout the hotel, including key touch points, such as lift buttons and door handles, as well as fully sanitising guest rooms.
“We will be putting complimentary individual sanitiser wipes in the bedrooms.”
Handywater Cottage, an award-winning B&B in Lower Assendon with four bedrooms, also re-opened on Saturday.
Natalie Johnson who has been running the business with her husband Raymond for three years, said the lockdown period gave them the opportunity to redecorate. She said: “We closed on March 18, a bit earlier than it was announced, because we felt we should and my husband is in the high-risk category.
“We wanted to be cautious even though it is just the two of us. Many people contacted us and rescheduled their stays.
“We coped well during lockdown because we have had amazing weather and we did a lot in our garden. It was like a little holiday for us.
“I think things will pick up now but it will be a little bit different. We have so many returning customers and they will want to hug and talk but things are very different now.
“Normally we check people in with a glass of Prosecco in our reception area but now we have an outdoor gazebo where they can sit, enjoy their Prosecco and we can talk them through our measures.” All four rooms have been deep cleaned and the couple have bought new garden furniture to allow guests to maximise their time outdoors.
Each room has a bottle of handwash and there are gloves and masks available for those who request them.
Mrs Johnson added: “Everything is spotless and clean. I painted all the walls inside and we have deep-cleaned every single thing.
“Guests will be very happy to sit outside in our garden area and I have already had an email from a lady who wanted to sit outside for her husband’s birthday.
“We have two bigger rooms and two smaller rooms. If you are staying in one of the bigger rooms, the breakfast will be served in the room and if you are in the smaller room it will be in the dining room, which is separate from the main house. We will ask people to put shoe covers on to walk into the dining room and the menu must be decided beforehand. I will also wear a mask.
“I understand that some people might be a little scared. Some people are relaxed and happy to travel but a lot are still isolating and worried about going out.”
In December, Handywater Cottage was named luxury bed and breakfast of the year in the Oxfordshire Prestige Awards.
The Great House Sonning and The Swan at Streatley, which are both owned by Rare Bird Hotels, also re-opened on Saturday.
Signs have been put up throughout both hotels to remind guests about social distancing. Hand sanitiser is available in communal areas. Staff have received health and hygiene training and PPE is available for all those in guest-facing roles.
A spokesman said: “The safety and wellbeing of our guests, visitors and team are at the forefront of all of our actions.
“We are working to strike the balance between a welcoming and ‘normal’ environment and providing the reassurance our guests and teams deserve.
“We have spoken with all key suppliers and partners to ensure their policies and systems relating to health and hygiene meet our high standards.
“Our hotels will adhere to the guidelines surrounding capacity. Fortunately, with our spacious communal areas, gardens and countryside locations, we are able to offer space, fresh air and plenty of places to roam.”
13 July 2020
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