After months of sheltering in place, many of us are craving a change of scenery. With relaxed Covid-19 restrictions and the gradual reopening of Sonoma County, area hotels are now beginning to welcome leisure travelers back again while also working hard to ensure a safe stay and an enjoyable experience for visitors. Locals looking for a close-to-home getaway have a list of options. But it’s never been more important to do your homework first: regulations and safety protocols vary between properties. Knowing what to expect will go a long way toward making any staycation more comfortable and relaxing. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
How check-in and check-out has changed
To reduce physical interaction, check-in and check-out procedures have been streamlined at most properties — many details can now be handled online ahead of arrival.
Four Sisters Inns, which operates Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza, Kenwood Inn & Spa, Inn at Sonoma, and Gaige House + Ryokan in Glen Ellen, is taking things a step further: in addition to an “express pre-arrival” check-in and texting service, guests also receive a phone call three days prior to arrival to discuss property changes and process payment, eliminating any credit card back and forth at arrival.
At AutoCamp Russian River, General Manager Mark Belhumeur says the property has “mastered a contactless check-in where guests can bypass the front desk entirely.” Entry to the property’s iconic Airstreams require a door code as opposed to a key. A welcome email sent before arrival contains everything guests need for access.
One of the first changes many guests may notice when arriving at lodgings throughout Sonoma County is the lack of valet service. Some properties, including Vintners Resort in Santa Rosa and MacArthur Place in Sonoma (both reopening on July 1), have suspended the service, making space available for guests to self-park. At Hotel Healdsburg, along with self-parking, valet service is available upon request.
The Astro in Santa Rosa is limiting their compact lobby to two guests at a time; guests waiting to check-in can hang out in the courtyard. When it’s time to check-out travelers can skip the lobby altogether and simply leave their key in their room.
How Housekeeping Has Changed
While cleanliness has always been a top priority at hotels throughout Sonoma County, it’s gained added significance due to Covid-19. Countless new standards and protocols have been put into place, utilizing everything from UV light to high-tech disinfectants to keep surfaces clean, and cleaning staff is now suited in personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Our current procedures include blocking and booking rooms so that a room may remain vacant for a minimum of 24 hours to allow a full cleaning and disinfecting process,” said Rosa Salgado, Housekeeping Manager at Hotel Healdsburg. “This works to keep both our guests and our employees safe.”
Time also plays a role in the cleaning procedures put in place at Santa Rosa’s Vintners Resort. “All rooms are cleaned and rested for at least 24 hours prior to the next check in,” said General Manager, Percy Brandon. Turndown service at Vintners Resort has also been temporarily discontinued.
At MacArthur Place, turndown service will be provided automatically in suites, but only by request in guest rooms. MacArthur Place has also appointed a full-time Cleanliness Steward dedicated to constantly sanitizing surfaces throughout the property such as door handles, tables, and countertops.
In many instances, properties have opted to remove non-essential, high-touch items such as throw pillows, magazines, and minibar provisions from rooms.
What Amenities Are Available?
This is where being organized and doing your research will help ensure you book the getaway that’s right for your staycation needs. Don’t make any assumptions about available services. As a result of the pandemic, amenity offerings have changed.
At Hotel Healdsburg, the pool and gym are open by appointment only to maintain social distancing and allowing for proper cleaning and disinfecting.
The fitness center at MacArthur Place is closed, but assorted equipment such as weights, mats, and kettlebells have been moved outside for workouts. The pool is open with pairs of sanitized lounge chairs physically distanced for safety. The spa at Vintners Resort remains closed, but the outdoor pool is open for hotel guests, with distancing taken into account in regards to seating.
Nightly wine and cheese buffets, a much-loved part of the experience for returning guests at Four Sisters Inns, have been replaced with picnic boxes packed with wine, a cheese plate for two and freshly baked cookies. Guests can enjoy them in their room, or bring them on their excursions.
Buffet breakfast offerings at Four Sisters Inns have been replaced with seated meals, available with advance reservation. Breakfast can also be delivered directly to a guestroom doorstep, without staff entering the room.
AutoCamp Russian River has temporarily discontinued their continental breakfast, but plans to bring it back when county regulations allow.
The lounge at The Astro is temporarily closed, but complimentary Flying Goat coffee is available from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. every morning in the lobby.
Have you stayed in a Sonoma County hotel during the pandemic? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.