In these strange times, close human contact is a risky proposition. Covid-19 restrictions have rendered many hobbies and activities off-limits. However, motorcycling is an experience that is, and has always been, all about social distancing.
On the open road, conflicts, concerns, and global viruses are marginalized and rendered innocuous. The problem is that we must reenter the confines of society at the temporary intermission of a ride. Unless camping or back at home, that means a stay in a hotel.
As a travel writer, even in the time of Covid, I am still doing some distance riding. Here is a first-hand look at what several types of lodging are doing to assuage customer concerns and minimize risk.
The Boutique Mom and Pop
The historic Park Hotel in Clarkdale, Arizona, is perfectly situated between the various mountain ranges of north-central Arizona. Winding roads head off in several directions from the quaint town, making this area a popular motorcycling destination. In fact, one of the best motorcycle roads in Arizona, Highway 89A over Mingus Mountain, is framed in the hotel’s second-story picture windows.
Owners Craig and Becky Backus superbly and painstakingly remodeled the Park Hotel’s seven rooms. Unfortunately, their passion project was completed with the coronavirus in full swing. It was in this time of trepidation and mandated restriction that I stayed at the Park Hotel. At that time, the owners were only renting out every other room.
“My husband Craig and I had a vision of creating a boutique hotel experience with classy chic rooms, bringing an amazing historic building back to life again,” Becky said. “With the impact of Covid, we decided to have a slow, safe opening in May, only allowing 50% occupancy to follow social distancing protocols. We also take every measure to protect our guests with sanitized rooms and lobby area, and by wiping down door handles and hand railing several times daily with commercial grade disinfectants.”
The Park Hotel will also feature a microbrewery when Covid bar restrictions are loosened.
The Upscale Resort
On a trip through southern Colorado, I had the opportunity to stay at The Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs. As I descended the winding road off Wolf Creek pass toward Pagosa Springs, I was anticipating soaking in the resort’s cascading, natural hot springs pools. However, I was understandably concerned about close contact with strangers.
Upon my arrival, the resort’s well-defined protocols went a long way in calming those concerns. Shane Lucero, the property’s Director of Sales and Marketing, told me, “The health and safety of our community, staff, and guests remains the top priority for us here at The Springs Resort.”
When asked about indoor cleansing measures, Lucero said that they have employed “the highest level of disinfectant cleaning across the property, using earth-friendly, peroxide-based cleaners and UV light sterilization in our guest rooms.” In fact, after the stunning view, one of the first things I noticed in my suite at the resort was the UV sterilization box conveniently located on the desk. Additionally, masks were required upon entering any common area indoor space at the resort.
So what about the resort’s main draw – those steaming hot springs pools? “In our outdoor hot spring pool area, we have posted capacity limits at each pool and ask that guests soak in travel or family groups, and to social distance,” said Lucero. “We want everyone, guests and staff included, to be and feel safe and comfortable during their stay with us as they naturally boost their immune systems with the gifts that nature has provided.”
The Large Chain
Over the last several decades of traveling, I have become a bit of a creature of habit when I select a chain hotel. Hilton has a reputation for quality that makes me comfortable. That is especially true now.
In this time of Covid, I have made stays at two different Hiltons – one in Durango, Colorado, and the other on Coronado Island, California. In both cases, check-in was handled by a masked desk attendant who was situated behind a plexiglass barrier. There were well-defined social distancing markers on the floors and frequent sanitizing stations in areas of required contact.
The Hilton chain has implemented a comforting visual cue upon arriving at the individual room door. That is a blue seal indicating the room’s completed sanitation. On both stays, upon breaking that seal, I found the remote control in a sealed bag and the rooms visually and aromatically clean.
Interestingly, Hilton has teamed with the Mayo Clinic to define and refine its cleanliness and sanitation efforts. “We are proud to bring Mayo Clinic’s expertise and knowledge to the Covid-19 response,” said Stacey Rizza, M.D., a Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist. She continued that the Mayo Clinic is “working with Hilton staff and advising them on the program protocol and training.”
Other quality hotel chains are certainly taking their own sanitation measures. It is wise to check ahead of your stay.
Obviously, it is reassuring that hotels are taking sanitation and guest safety seriously. However, there is no substitute for personal responsibility. I ride with a mask and hand sanitizer in the top of my most accessible saddlebag and use them at any fuel, food or rest stop. I also carry a can of Lysol spray sanitizer and coat the door handles, bathroom fixtures and high-contact surfaces in any hotel room – even those as seemingly clean as those outlined above.
In the end, a hotel stay cannot be as guaranteed virus-free as the open road, but with efforts on the part of both the customer and the facility, unnecessary risk can be minimized.