PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Beach hotels in Pinellas County are working to stop the spread of COVID-19 with Memorial Day weekend and the summer months quickly approaching.
While some hotels stayed open during the coronavirus closures, others are just starting to reopen their doors.
The Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island plans to reopen on May 14.
Clyde Smith, the resort’s general manager, spent the day Wednesday training employees on new protocols to keep guests safe - including sanitizing room keys and beach chairs. He also provided all staff with masks and gloves and installed plastic hanging dividers at the check in desk to protect both employees and guests.
The hotel pool is only able to accommodate 14 guests at a time.
“We’re definitely enforcing the physical distancing. We think that’s really important both with each other and certainly guest to guest. We are not shy about approaching someone and saying please respect each other and keep the physical distance,” Smith added. “We’re just stepping everything up a notch and making sure safety is paramount.”
At the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater, UV lights are playing a key role in keeping guest rooms clean. Employees are using the UV light wands to focus on high touch areas like door knobs, furniture, bath tubs and even the bed.
Housekeeping staff are only entering rooms after a guest checks out. The hotel is now giving every guest a bag upon check-in with hand sanitizer and two plastic bags for linens and room garbage.
Eric Waltz, the General Manager of the Sandpearl, says they’ve adopted policies by looking at other hotels around the nation.
“That’s what the Waldorf Astoria is doing in New York City and that’s a best practice for them. At first, we are like that’s weird giving trash bags at arrival but it’s kind of like what’s going on now,” Waltz said.
Even valet parking has changed at the Sandpearl. Now, steering wheel and seat covers are required.
Robin Miller at the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce says as hotels prepare to welcome back guests, they aren’t cutting any corners.
“This is on us. If we’re not doing this right, we may have to go backwards. We don’t want to go backwards so we have to take this step softly. Some of our properties may be open but they’re not fully booking their properties and may be only opening to 50% to meet social distancing and cleaning standards,” Miller said.
Miller says all Pinellas County beach resorts that originally closed, are telling her they plan to reopen within the next week.
Before you book a reservation, the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce recommends calling the hotel to check on their COVID-19 policies and how that may impact your stay.
“If you don’t feel safe, clean and not put in jeopardy then you’re not going to have a great experience and I can assure you Tampa Bay beach businesses are devoted to providing a safe and great experience,” Miller added.