'No way this room was sanitized': Despite assurances, hotels get mixed reviews on COVID-19 cleanliness, masks

Nobody wants to find a dirty rag in their sink when checking into a hotel room. But during the coronavirus pandemic - when guests expect their rooms to be spotless and sterile - finding a room that hasn't been fully refurbished is even more worrying.
"In no case has this room been refurbished, let alone properly" cleaned, "" wrote Danielle Bocage in a Facebook post criticizing her recent stay at a Georgia Hilton hotel. "I am completely disappointed with the lack of attention my room received."
"The guest made the property aware of concerns about their room on the second day of their stay. We received a personal apology, an offer to move and an offer to service the room," Hilton spokesman Nigel Glennie told USA TODAY. "The guest declined these offers but accepted a refund for one of their three nights."
Social media offers a mix of complaints and praise for hotel companies when it comes to COVID-19 cleanliness measures. The industry is committed to everything from mandatory masks to social distancing to intense cleanliness.
"Hotels are cleaner than ever," Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, told USA TODAY.
But it's clear that every single hotel doesn't necessarily hold up the end of the business, and Rogers acknowledged that not every room will look immaculate.
"If you look at millions and millions of hotel rooms, could a person find a room they don't think is clean enough? Sure, there's no way I can prevent it. But the industry as a whole is cleaner than I've ever known" , he said.
USA TODAY saw the cleanliness measures for us last month as we stayed at a Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt in Washington, DC and hotel guests across the country confirmed our mixed results.
Find out more about our hotel experience: What it's like to stay at a Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel during the COVID-19 pandemic
"I felt completely uncomfortable in the Hilton Hotel"
Bocage, 50, said there appeared to be no log during her stay at the Home2 Suites by Hilton in Lawrenceville, Georgia in early September.
In accordance with Hilton policies, all guests and employees in the hotel's indoor public areas wear face covers. The brand's cleanliness measures include putting a sticker between the door and wall of rooms as a seal to indicate that the room has been redeveloped according to COVID-19 standards. The protocol provides for the disinfection of many surfaces in the room, e.g. B. light switches, handles and knobs, essential bathroom surfaces and the remote control.
Despite a sign at the entrance reminding guests that face masks are required, Bocage, a Richmond, Virginia project manager and Hilton Honors member, said more than a dozen people were hanging around the lobby without face covering, and so were some employees do not wear masks.
Bocage says she also found a rag in her sink.
"I felt completely uncomfortable throughout my stay with no one wearing face-covering in public areas," wrote Bocage on the Hilton Facebook page of her experience. Hotel bashing on social media (and other) platforms isn't new, of course, although the pandemic means guests are paying more attention to the chains' announced policies.
Meanwhile, despite the "CleanStay" label on her door, she found a dirty rag in the sink and an exploded beer bottle in the freezer, as well as rubbish on the door handle of the freezer.
Hilton guest Danielle Bocage says she found an exploded beer bottle in her freezer.
She received compensation from the hotel after reporting and reassuring staff that they were reminded of new protocols. A customer service representative told her they "understand how annoying it is to see someone not wearing a mask".
Glennie told USA TODAY that Bocage had contacted the hotel prior to her arrival and asked for extra bedding for her room. "A mix-up made it possible to select a room online that should not be available."
"From the perspective of Hilton, we believe the measures taken on the property were appropriate and demonstrate our hospitality," continued Glennie. "We apologize to the accommodation and hope that we can welcome the guest to this or another Hilton property in the future."
However, other guests have enjoyed their stay at Hilton properties. "I've stayed at various hotels since May and had very good cleanliness experiences. I've had several stays at Hyatts, Hiltons, and Walt Disney World Resorts and all of them have been very clean," said Damon Vinci, 43- year old cyber security analyst Frisco, Texas, told USA TODAY.
"Spotlessly clean" Marriott hotel stays
30-year-old Stephanie Toro was in several hotels during the pandemic to visit her 101-year-old grandfather in Florida in late April. She drove from her home in Boston to Tampa, Florida for three days, and a few weeks later stayed at Residence Inn hotels in Richmond, Virginia and Savannah Georgia, as well as a Westin in Princeton, New Jersey. Her partner Shane and 1 year old pit bull Asher joined in. Her sister works for a Marriott brand hotel, which makes her hotel travel very affordable thanks to a discount.
"There were hardly any other guests in these three hotels and the front desk staff were friendly and helpful," she told USA TODAY. "Our rooms in every hotel were spotlessly clean." She wished they had provided cleaning wipes in the rooms, but she brought her own so it wasn't a deal breaker.
She saw cleanliness measures being taken at the independent Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club in Brewster, Massachusetts in July. "The room was immaculately clean and the staff kept a record of the entire resort property and amenities," she said. "This was the only hotel I stayed in. Possibly because restaurants, pools, and fitness centers were open."
Toro found her stay at a Residence Inn in Yonkers, New York in early September, scoring "the lowest score for cleanliness and readiness. That doesn't mean it wasn't clean, but it definitely managed more guest rooms than the other hotels," that I had visited, "she said. She also saw a person there without a mask.
Lori Catalan, 62, lived with her husband at the Springhill Suites Cincinnati Midtown, a Marriott hotel, from September 5-6. The retired teacher in Evanston, Illinois discovered that employees were violating the company's mask guidelines.
"At best, the desk staff wore masks under their noses," Catalan told USA TODAY. "Some who stood further back had them under their chins, as did women who had prepared breakfast."
The hotel manager reached out to her after completing a survey detailing her experiences.
"Since March of this year, in addition to our weekly Healthy at Work meetings and audits, we have been following all CDC and local guidelines and requirements, including temperature checks for individual employees before they start their shift," said Teddy Roque, general of the Region manager at the hotel wrote. "I would also like to assure you that my team and I will continue to focus on doing our part to ensure that we meet our guests' expectations every time and continue to actively work to prevent the waste of COVID-19."
Marriott spokesman John Wolf referred USA TODAY to the company's cleanliness policy page, which lists the face coverings required.
La Quinta "made us nervous"
Steve Novick, a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, stumbled upon his wife and two dogs in Albany, New York. They chose La Quinta on the recommendation of a friend as the hotels are dog friendly.
Novick, 57, called the company's national reservations management to make sure COVID-19 procedures were in place and assured everyone was required to wear a mask. The chain's guidelines also include improved cleaning practices and a reminder of social distancing. In early August, he made reservations at several La Quinta hotels: Gillette, Wyoming; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But when they got to Gillette's, the man at the front desk wasn't wearing a mask. He told Novick there was no such policy.
"At that point we didn't want to try to find another place for our dogs, so we sucked it up and stayed," Novick told USA TODAY. He contacted the company's customer service and was informed that there are no national guidelines as every hotel is a franchise business.
In both Rapid City and Sioux Falls, employees and guests did not wear masks. Wyndham's policy of requiring guests and anyone else entering their hotels to wear face masks in the US and Canada went into effect August 10 after Novick's stay.
"We sincerely apologize to Mr. Novick, who stayed with us prior to this requirement becoming effective, for any miscommunication of our policies," Rob Myers, spokesman for La Quinta's parent brand Wyndham, told USA TODAY. "Please know that we take these concerns seriously and are speaking to the appropriate parties."
Myers added, "Prior to August 10, team members at our managed hotels were required to wear statutory PPE based on their role and where applicable. Franchise locations like the one in question were encouraged to follow similar procedures as possible, but practice was at the discretion of the company hotel owner, unless required by law. Since then, we have contacted the hotels concerned and all three meet our current requirements. "
Novick said hotel stays had become annoying: "It certainly just made us nervous knowing that we might have been exposed in ways we didn't expect."
On the way back, he chose to say Choice at Comfort Inn hotels and called each one in advance rather than relying on information from chains themselves.
"I'm more comfortable in a Comfort Inn than a La Quinta because at least at the Comfort Inn they had masks, and when I asked people to put them on, they did," he said.
Monica Fish, 40, of Glen Rock, New Jersey, enjoyed her summer stay at a Wyndham property in Berkshires, Massachusetts, and said masks were indeed worn.
Face covering is key to the hotels mission to keep guests safe. "When people wear face coverings - which our industry has broadly defined as the mandate for wearing face coverings in public places - everyone should be fine," AHLA's Rogers told USA TODAY.
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This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Hilton, Marriott, and other hotels that don't all apply the basics of COVID-19 cleaning

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