Businesses entrepreneurs who are dependent on tourism are already thinking of ways to reinvent themselves and their establishments in order to guarantee their customer’s safety after quarantine ends.
THE luxurious Gingko terrace in Madrid hopes to continue serving their gin and tonics on the rooftop this summer for clients who wish to see the sunset over the city. However, they too have plans to adapt to this ‘new reality.’
Each visitor will have their own hygiene bubble: they must have their own masks and their own gloves and will be separated from the rest of the clientele via partitions. If somebody wishes to look out at the sunset they must ask permission from an employee and be directed through a safe route.
Madrid’s hotel chain, VP, have also followed suit and began to reinvent their spaces to fit the purpose of this new reality we find ourselves immersed within. VP Hotels believes that they key in attracting the few tourists that will be in Madrid is to represent its facilities as an extremely clean and safe space to be in.
“We want it be the safest hotel in all of Spain,” says the general director of the VP chain, Javier Pérez Jiménez. The rules which will dictate whether hotels may open or not are still unknown, but Perez Jimenez thinks that this luxury hotel chain must go over and beyond to attract customers.
The key is to attract customers, and this cannot be done by simply achieving the bare minimum, especially since there will be a fear or paranoia about Covid-19 lingering amongst the population.
The Hotel Business Association of Madrid is also preparing a protocol in order to grant ‘Covid Free Hotels’ certificates.
Before entering the premises, customers of VP Plaza de España will have to undergo a quick test, explains Pérez Jiménez. They are already talking to several clinics which would transform one of the rooms on the ground floor into a testing facility. However, they do not rule out that the test must be done in an ambulance at the door, he adds.
If they are healthy, they will receive a welcome kit with protective material at the reception: gloves, mask and gel. Your rooms will be like the ‘bunkers’ of the hotel, the most protected place. There they will find vacuum-packed objects, such as the remote control.
Practically in every corner you will find disinfectant gel dispensers, explains Pérez Jiménez. The breakfast buffet will disappear and be replaced by a picnic bag with fruit and yoghurt that the client will pick up by going around a circuit. In restaurants, cleaning the table with a rag is over. From now on they will have to use pressure washing steamers.
He estimates that the capacity of their two restaurants on the ground floors (800 and 250 people) should be reduced by a third to a half. On the 1,200-square-metre Ginkgo terrace, it plans to go from a maximum of 300 to 200 people. There will no longer be a line on the street to go up to the terrace, as has happened in recent summers. Reservations will be mandatory in order to access.
The plan is both ambitious and expensive, says the groups’ CEO. Unfortunately, these kind of changes are only available to a few giants in the sector which can be redesigned as clean spaces. The year 2020 will be the hardest test for survival in the hospitality sector. However, VP believes they can hold out until September thanks to business and event tourism.
Another advantage of his hotel, he adds, is that the bathrooms of the restaurants open automatically so you don’t have to touch any knob. “In the common areas you only touch the lift button and inside you will find an alcohol dispenser,” says Pérez Jiménez.
Owners of a multitude of bars, restaurants or beach bars have a gloomier outlook on their future after quarantine is lifted. Most seem to rule out for the the option for a radical transformation of their premises for the time being.
The owner of two restaurants, Doña Calma Gastrobar and Veranillo de Santa Ana, in Sanlucar de Barrameda, Cadiz, Gildo Higado has admitted that “the uncertainty of not knowing how or when they are going to let us open has limited us severely.” Reducing our capacity is also something that we have planned, in the same way that we have planned to invest money to buy partitions in order to separate one table from the other,” he adds. “It’s so screwed up. I am very sorry for the workers we have, because if you used to have eight employees for 70 diners, and now they will only let you have 20 … well, you will tell me,” laments Hidalgo.