South Florida Hotel Operators Waiting Their Turn to Get Business Rolling Again

Hotels working on measures to keep guests safe amid coronavirus pandemic

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South Florida hotels are getting ready to hopefully open their doors for business in the coming weeks.

The hotel reopenings won’t be on Monday, but they are hoping their green light will come soon.

The renovated Lennox Hotel has 120 rooms and is right on Collins Avenue and 19th Street on Miami Beach. On Monday, they will start to see some foot traffic going by with the restaurants and retail shops nearby opening.

While they are waiting their turn, they are putting all kinds of sanitation measures in place, starting with the valet who parks your car outside before you ever in get into the lobby.

Teams are cleaning the hotel top to bottom and the owner says he’s brought in a specialist that also fumigates every section of each room. With restaurants and retailers opening at partial capacity Monday, hotel operators are optimistic.

"We are hoping the next step is actually going to be our hotels," Lennox general manager Ziad El Chantiry said.

The cleaning is all to comply with the rules Miami-Dade put in place to open the door for hotels to begin accepting guests again.

"Nanoseptic sleeves for all the doors, all the push bars, all the buttons in the elevators, all the PPE to be able to do our jobs safely for all our employees and all our guests,” Chantiry said.

The target date to reopen is June 1st.

"We have been preparing for this moment for the last two months and we have a lot of protocols and we follow the CDC guidelines. We follow the WHO guidelines,” Chantiry said.

In the common areas like the pool, they are spacing the lounge chairs 6 feet apart, the outdoor bar is set up for just one guest at a time, and arrows tell you which way you can walk around the pool deck. Inside the lobby using your phone, you can see the hotels plan for social distancing.

"For example, in this area here we are only supposed to have 10 people with a maximum 500 square foot area and if you count around you will only have 9 chairs and you will have a bartender serving you. We eliminated all the seats at the bars," Chantiry said. "We want people to come back to Miami Beach. We want people to feel safe coming back to our hotels."

Of course, opening the hotels is vital for the South Florida economy to return. Those coming back for sightseeing and eating need a place to stay.

Wendy Kallergis heads the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association and says the area's economic impact is enormous.

"We also have tens of thousands of employees out of jobs as you know and they did not have a good experience with the unemployment. So we are anxious to open," Kallergis said. "We anticipate a slow beginning. You know it is summer but we want to ramp up and make sure we get a lot of, I think we are going to back to the days of staycations and drive-in business which is really going to be key for us.”

The operators of the Lennox said they are going paperless and are trying to get guests to check in using their app before they arrive. It's the kind of technology they are implementing to limit the contact with staff and the good thing about a hotel is they don’t have to worry generally about keeping the guests separated much of the time because the visitors are in their rooms.

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