The New Abnormal
Updated May 23, 2020
We, like virtually every small business in America, are thinking about when and how we can reopen. We have our crystal ball out, but all we can get is a blue rectangle with the words “This channel will be available shortly”. Hitting it has not helped.
Thus abandoned we have resorted to lengthy and deep thought. And we have a plan! Let’s take you through what a stay at our B&B will be like, both on stage and behind the scenes.
As of this date there is still no official guidance from the state of New Hampshire. We are proceeding to plan with our best guess as to what they are going to do. But pending future surprises all that we set out below is tentative.
Reopening June 15
Maximum occupancy 50%
Limited breakfast service
No turndown service
The most uncertain part of the whole process is the question of reservations. At this point we are accepting reservations thru our website or by phone for June 15th and later. Should an extension of the New Hampshire business closure order push that date back all affected reservations will be canceled with full refunds. We are currently not accepting reservations from Expedia and other OTAs (online travel agents) for dates before July 1st. You should be booking directly with us anyway: you get more information and better prices that way. It is also quite possible (but not yet official) that we will not be able to accept out-of-state reservations for some undefined time after reopening.
Another thing you may notice is that not all of our rooms will be available, at least not at first. Sanitation issues require us to leave each room vacant for 48 hours before and 48 hours after each stay. Social distancing requires that each room have its own entrance and that our particularly narrow hallways are never shared. As a result we can rent only one of Cathedral and Typhoon and one of Nightingale, Dashing Wave and Sea Witch at any given time. Noonday has its own entrance and is not affected by this.
Contactless Check Ins
A big part of staying safe in these times is minimizing person-to-person contact. And a big part of the person-to-person contact between us and our guests occurs during check in; during the signing of forms and handing over of keys. So we will be changing our check in procedure. In the days before your stay you will receive a series of emails with directions and instructions as well as an online form which will let you check in remotely. When you arrive you will pick up your keys and a map to your room at our drop box. In your room you will find a map and a guide to the Inn. We are going to move the contents of our guest binder, with links to restaurants and attractions that are open, online. All communications with the innkeepers will be via phone or text message.
If you do not have a smart phone please let us know and we will be ready with paper substitutes for all these things. Contactless checkins will continue until regulations are eased, and will remain an option after that.
We are a bed and breakfast after all, and it doesn’t seem right not to serve breakfast. But we really can’t see serving our traditional two-course sit-down breakfast. So what we are going to serve an enhanced version of our “to go” breakfast. Some fruit, a muffin with some combination of egg, cheese and sausage (thinking of calling it an “Egg McMartin”), yogurt, juice, coffee or tea. On arrival you will get a text with breakfast choices for the next day. Just text us with your preferences and your breakfast will be left outside your room. You may eat it there or at one of our outside tables. This option will remain even when we resume our normal breakfast service.
In order to make social distancing easier (or even possible) we are going to use “room distancing”, only renting one room in each area of the Inn. Each rented room should have its own entrance and the hallway will be yours alone. Our Great Room will be limited to two guests at any one time. We do hope to relax these measures when the time is appropriate.
The AHLA (American Hotel and Lodging Association) has released a set of industry-wide cleaning and sanitation standards under its SafeStay program. We have endorsed this program and will adhere to its recommendations.
For the most part these measures will not intrude on your visit, but one thing you will notice is that we will be suspending our daily turndown service. Nobody except you will enter your room during your stay. Do let us know (via text message preferably) if you need fresh towels or bottled water or anything and we will leave them outside your door. If you wish to return used towels a laundry bag will be supplied for that purpose.
Behind the Scenes
We are working to keep your stay as normal as possible, but many of the changes being made with your safety in mind will happen behind the scenes and out of your view. To let you know what these measures are lets follow a room from the moment the guests before you check out.
As soon as the previous inhabitants leave we will place a HEPA air cleaner in the room and let it run for 24 hours. Then our housekeeper will do a very thorough cleaning following the SafeStay guidelines. I don’t have the room to completely outline these requirements, but in general:
all hard surfaces will be wiped down with an approved disinfectant
all towels and linen will be removed and laundered
all non-removable items (like drapes) will be sprayed with approved disinfectants
The room will then be allowed to sit for another 24 hours (with the HEPA air cleaner running) with the door locked before the next guests are allowed to enter.
Public spaces (dining room, Great Room, hallways) will be wiped down once daily with approved disinfectant wipes. All doorknobs and handles will be cleaned within a inch of their little brass lives.