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Hotels embrace digital ordering as person to person contact is minimised in new normal

By Philip Mwakio | August 13th 2020

Mombasa's Voyager Beach Resort which has opened for business under the new normal with digital ordering, live feed from the kitchen for diners in the new normal era.

According to Heritage Hotel Group Operations Director, Mr Wasike Wasike, they have conformed with all the health regulations aimed at curbing spread of Covid-19 to both guests and staff with lesser human contact in all the operations ranging from check in to dining

''We have trained our staff. For example, those serving at the restaurants are adopting to the new normal with 'contactless dining' where diners who check into our restaurants that now have reduced seats with no table cloth that has been replaced with single use paper spreads,'' Wasike said.

He said that for diners, the popular buffet meal is missing in the new normal and has been replaced with plated meals where chefs and service staff serve guests seated at their tables.

He explains that they have introduced a QR code digital menu where diners who check in for either breakfast, lunch or supper.

''Here, one is able to browse the menu on your phone, order and settle down, your companion just about within earshot and the rest of the crowd in the restaurant unseen and possibly unheard too high on tech and low on people connect, this is the new normal 'contactless dining' that we have introduced,'' Wasike who is also the National Vice chairman of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) said.

At the Plaza Beach Hotel that has also opened for business after getting health certification from the Mombasa County department of Health, dining tables are spaced out to allow for more social distancing.

''We are ready and have adopted to the new normal with all the critical staff housed within the hotel premises to avoid any possible cross contamination with the community from where our staff live,'' Denis Gwaro, General Manager said.

The reception desk at the Voyager Beach Resort has a plexi -glass mounted to prevent direct contact between staff and guests checking in our out. There are also sanitised pens for use when filling in forms.

Voyager Beach Resort Operations Manager, Sammy Maende said that contact -less dining has proved to be highly acceptable with the initial guests who checked in after the hotel reopened giving positive comments.

He said that all their rooms that are not occupied have a seal which is only broken once a client checks in. When one checks out, the rooms are not sold for 48 hours as they are heavily cleaned and sanitised for the next room occupant.

Maende said that hospitality industry that has been greatly affected by effects of Covid-19 pandemic is now devoid of cosy dinners, large celebrations like weeding receptions and conference and workshops whose numbers have been curtailed as a result of the virus pandemic.

Veteran hotelier, Sammy Kisandu, General Manager of Bahari Gates Restaurant in Kilifi county said that while most hospitality joints have conformed with the new normal, it will be tall order for others since there is the aspect of added costs of operations.

''We have heard of the stimulus package to the hospitality industry by the government. It is yet to trickle down to operators and already we are concerned as to why delay in disbursements,'' Kisandu said.

On contactless dining, Kisandu said that dining is an experience that is not possible without  any contact.

''It is correct to say that this new concept is a direct shift of all events to digital which is gaining traction all over,'' said Kisandu.  

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