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Hotel makes five-star effort to keep staycations safe

Grand Hyatt Singapore was one of many in the travel and hospitality industry that bore the full brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, its doors are open — and welcoming again — safely...

High-touch areas, such as countertops and lift buttons, are sanitised frequently throughout the day. PHOTO: TED CHEN
Rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before guests arrive. Extra attention is given to high-touch areas such as the telephone, door handles and remote controls. PHOTO: TED CHEN
At the hotel's restaurants, guests can access digital menus by scanning the QR code provided at each table. PHOTO: TED CHEN
(From left) Grand Hyatt's hygiene and safety manager Naidu Thanabal and front office assistant manager Brametha Parimelalagan PHOTOS: TED CHEN

In his six years working at Grand Hyatt Singapore, Mr Naidu Thanabal never imagined the day when the bustling five-star hotel would be empty.

Yet, like all hotels, that is what happened in the weeks after the pandemic hit Singapore in January, and tourist arrivals nosedived.

But pessimism soon turned into positivity. Mr Naidu and his colleagues immediately rolled out safety measures such as daily temperature checks for staff and guests, and more frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas.

Quick action to clean its premises and a commitment to keep guests safe led to the hotel becoming one of the first in Singapore to attain an SG Clean certification on March 12.

The SG Clean mark is a bill of health for tourism, retail and food service businesses that meet requirements tailored to each sector. They include the appointment of an SG Clean manager to oversee the establishment's practices and frequent disinfection of common facilities.

Hotel key cards are sanitised in an ultraviolet box before being passed to guests to access their rooms. Contactless payment is encouraged to minimise contact. PHOTO: TED CHEN

It was a heavy responsibility for Mr Naidu, 56, the hotel's hygiene and safety manager and SG Clean manager. His priority was to ensure its rapid recovery.

"I always emphasise the importance of keeping our hands clean as we're touching a lot of things, especially now with the coronavirus," he said.

Staff were already using hands-free soap dispensers and hand sanitiser before the pandemic reached Singapore, but Mr Naidu felt it was crucial to step up safety and hygiene training.

Since January, Grand Hyatt Singapore staff have undergone seven to eight online courses on topics such as bloodborne pathogens, safe management measures and the proper use of chemicals in cleaning and disinfection.

Fitness machines and gym equipment are sanitised by staff immediately after use. PHOTO: TED CHEN

Welcome and wellness

The initiative is paying off. Business is picking up for the hotel following approval from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to fully resume operations last month.

The hotel's marketing communications manager Gerald Kheng said there has been a steady increase in room bookings since it launched its staycation packages on July 14.

Before getting the green light to welcome guests, hotels must adhere to a stringent set of safe management measures drawn up by STB, Enterprise Singapore, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Health.

These include occupancy limits per room, staggered timings for guests at the hotel lobby and guest facilities, implementation of SafeEntry and rigorous cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas.

Restaurant seats and menus are sanitised before guests are seated, and again when they leave. PHOTO: TED CHEN

Grand Hyatt Singapore is among 177 hotels that have been approved by STB for staycations as of Aug 2. Its quick comeback is notable because it was among several local clusters identified in the early days of the pandemic.

Front office assistant manager Brametha Parimelalagan said that the guest experience at Grand Hyatt Singapore seems largely unaffected by these additional measures.

"The changes seem significant, but I would say that our guests are familiar with the measures in place."

She added that most local guests are used to the SafeEntry checkpoints, temperature screening, hand sanitising and wearing a mask in public spaces.

Still, there are some who have trouble getting used to the measures.

"Some guests are not very keen on SafeEntry and find the multiple scanning of QR codes inconvenient," she said.

To ease their concerns, her team explains the procedures and assists guests who need help.

She explained: "These measures are very important for our guests and help ensure that we provide a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Our priority is always the health and well-being of our guests and we should not compromise on that."

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