Hotels in Mombasa have adopted innovative ways to safeguard the health of their guests and staff from contracting Covid-19.
Voyager Beach Resort has opened for business exploiting the virtual technology with digital ordering service and live feed for its kitchen staff and diners as the new normal.
Mr Wasike Wasike, the Heritage Hotel Group Operations Director, said they had conformed to all health regulations, maintaining little human contact in all operations ranging from check-in to dining.
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"We have trained our staff. For example, those serving at the restaurants are adapting to the new normal of "contactless dining" with reduced seats and no table cloth. The latter has been replaced with single-use paper spreads," Wasike said.
Wasike said for diners, they have withdrawn the buffet meal with chefs and waiters serving guests seated at their tables.
The hotel has also introduced a QR code digital menu where diners can check in for breakfast, lunch or supper.
"Here, one is able to browse the menu on their phone, order and settle down to eat. This is the new normal, the contactless dining that we have introduced," said Wasike, who is also the National Vice chairman of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) said.
In Taita Taveta, the Salt Lick Safari Lodge and Taita Hills Safari Resort and Spa have officially resumed operation, with Mr Mohamed Hersi, the Director of Operations, saying they have conformed to all health protocols.
“We have put everything in place to ensure our guests and staff remain safe all the time during their stay with us," said Hersi, who is also the chairman of Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF).
At the three-star Plaza Beach Hotel, which has also opened for business after getting certification from Mombasa County Department of Health, dining tables are spaced in conformity to standard social distancing.
“We are ready and have adapted to the new normal. We have housed all the critical staff within the hotel premises to avoid any possible cross contamination with the community," said Mr Denis Gwaro, the General Manager.
The reception desk at the Voyager Beach Resort has a plexiglass mounted to prevent direct contact between front office staff and guests checking in or out of the hotel. There are also sanitised pens for use when filling forms.
Voyager Beach Resort Operations Manager Mr Sammy Maende said contactless dining has been highly acceptable by the first batch of guests, who checked in after the hotel reopened, giving it a thumbs up.
All the hotel rooms that are not occupied have a seal that is only broken once a client checks in. After the stay and the guest has checked out, the rooms do not immediately become available for the next occupant, but has to wait for 48 hours for thorough cleaning and sanitisation before they are open for the next occupant.
The hospitality industry has been immensely affected by effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has forced the operators to shelve cosy dinners, large celebrations such as wedding receptions, conferences and workshops whose numbers have been curtailed as a result of the disease.
Veteran hotelier Mr Sammy Kisandu, who is the General Manager of Bahari Gates Restaurant in Kilifi County, said while most hospitality joints have conformed with the new health protocol, it will be a tall order for other operators to catch up since the upgrade has added costs.
“We have heard of the stimulus package to the hospitality industry by the government. It is yet to trickle down to operators. This raises concerns as to why the delay in disbursements," Kisandu said.
Kisandu urged the hospitality sector to embrace the contact-less dining during the pandemic time.
"It is correct to say this new concept is a direct shift to digital platform, which is gaining traction all over," said Kisandu.