Planning to visit a hotel soon but unsure how to stay safe from coronavirus during your stay?
The Travel Insider’s David Rowell authored a 200+ page book entitled “Covid-19: What it is, How to Avoid it, and How to Survive it.” (Available to members of his site.)
He posted on his blog an excerpt entitled “How to Minimize Your Virus Risk in a Hotel.” Below are some of the more salient points I thought you find interesting.
Let’s Clear the Air
“You might think there is not a lot you can control when you’re in a hotel, but you have one very important control point – you can choose the hotel you stay at,” Mr. Rowell writes.
What should concern us?
“The thing you most want to avoid is a hotel that has a central air system, such that air is pumped into your room via ducting from a central heating/cooling service somewhere,” the post says. Why?
“If your air is coming from somewhere else, you get to share in everything and everywhere else in the hotel that is using the same common air system. An infected person three floors away could have their virus aerosol particles sucked into the central air system, and then blown into your room.”
But what if a hotel boasts how great its air filtration is?
“While a hotel might claim to have air filters to protect against that, we would view such claims extremely skeptically.” (I wonder if the same thought goes for airlines? 😉 )
Still, Mr. Rowell says his “perception is that most hotels do not have common shared air systems in the rooms – they are more often found in … hotel public areas, than in hotel bedrooms.”
When you pick-up your key, he suggests you ask the front staff when your room was last occupied.
Obviously, the longer the room is vacant gives viruses more time to die. So unless you booked something special (like a sweet suite, if you will), it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to score a room that’s been unoccupied for several days.
Plus, ask if they can stick you in a room as far away from elevators as possible. This reduces traffic past your room door — and others “possibly breathing out virus particles that might then be sucked under the door and into your room by air flows.” (Plus, it alleviates some of the noise from people going in and out of the elevators.) My friend Larry called a hotel yesterday and asked if the property could put him in a room that’s gone unused for a bit. The rep confirmed that she blocked him in a room that will have gone three days since its last occupant.
Another suggestion is to get a room close to the stairs so that you can avoid elevators. I remember hearing that Major League Baseball wanted its teams to use hotel rooms on lower floors so players could more easily take the steps.
Once You Get to Your Room
You are still wearing your mask, right? You may want to keep it on for a while.
“Wear the mask before moving sheets and bedding around, because the act of doing so could dislodge virus particles and get them back up into the air again.” This includes when you gently fold the bedspread and put decorative pillows away somewhere you won’t need them again during your stay.
It’s also suggested you bring along some disinfectant to spray the bed sheets, pillows, and, heck, pretty much everything else.
And, of course, keep that “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door and tell the front desk staff you don’t want your room serviced at all during your stay.
When You Venture Out
Pools, bars, restaurants, gyms, conference areas are common areas you’ll find at many hotels. But you may want to avoid those spaces because of other people using them. The indoor facilities are especially more problematic, as they tend to use central HVAC (which, as we learned a few paragraphs ago, is something to avoid).
Do the recommendations seem a bit much? Maybe.
Frankly, it seems easier to stay at home.
But I’d never given much thought to a hotel’s HVAC until now. And I like the ideas about getting rooms that haven’t been used for a few days (not always possible but worth asking) and far away from elevators.
What’s your take? Please share your thoughts the below Comments section.
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