On July 22nd, Ashley Corey, a Regional Director of Business Development at Flight Centre Travel Group, checked in to the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza to discover what changes they have implemented post COVID-19. Follow along for a detailed account of her stay!
Should you visit the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, you'll find it has changed substantially post COVID-19 from the moment you walk in. These changes include:
- Decals on the floor directing traffic
- Plexi-glass at check-in desks
- Staff all wearing masks, with some wearing gloves as well
In terms of the actual check-in process, there are many changes as well including:
- Swiping your own credit card
- ID is shown through the glass instead of handed to staff for verification
- Front desk agent relayed changes, speaking to strict safety protocols within the property and all IHG properties and explained the IHG clean promise
- There is a QR code at the back of the key card, which is a gateway to a virtual guest directory instead of a hard copy
Overall the check-in process was fairly touchless other than the exchange of the key cards.
IHG has had a clean promise program in place since 2015 called IHG Way of Clean. Now they are just making that more visible to guests and taking it the extra mile. Some of these changes include:
- Black lighting to inspect room prior to leaving to ensure surfaces are clean
- Color coded cleaning solutions to not cross contaminate
- Check in process is paperless
- Protective shields at check in
- PPE worn by all staff
- Hand sanitizer throughout the entire building, elevator banks, vending machines, entrance/exit to property
Although the room looked kind of bare, I knew that was a good thing because that means they removed all the high touch items that are difficult to clean and not replaced after each stay such as pens, pads of paper,throw pillows, duvets, magazines, guest directories, etc...
What I noticed in the room was:
- replaceable water bottles
- one time use shampoos/soaps
- plastic cups for water/coffee machine
- The remote control was wrapped in plastic and changed after each stay
Additionally, I was told that the housekeeping staff will not enter your room to clean each day after each night like normal. This is to ensure nobody is entering your room during your stay that could infect the room. Therefore, if you need new towels or anything, you can request that with housekeeping and they’ll bring them to your door. Only if you’re staying 5 or more nights will they come to clean the room unless otherwise requested by the guest.
In terms of amenities, the hotel featured a pool and a gym, both of which were open at the time of my stay.
The indoor pool had signs to encourage social distancing and wearing a mask when not in the pool. It didn't seem as though they were limiting the amount how many people were in the pool area, however, there was a pool attendant making sure each family was staying together and not mingling with others. You could tell they have removed some seating in the pool area, to create at least 6 feet of space between each seating area.
In terms of the gym, it was open but limited to 2 people maximum capacity. Therefore, you have to make a reservation for the gym with the front desk and check in at the front desk to get a key to access the gym.
The fitness center looked clean and there was hand sanitizer available in both the pool and fitness area.
Food and Beverage
The restaurant, bar and lounge were all closed due to the city of Chicago’s Covid-19 ordinance. There is also no room service available to decrease contact with staff. Therefore, the only food and beverage options available on site were grab and go items from the Merchants Market located in the lobby. The market was full of various food and beverage options including beer and wine. The displays were very clean and signage in the market encourages 6 ft social distancing.
Overall the property is making a concerted effort to inform guests of their safety and cleaning protocols and I could tell that the property was following through with their clean promise. All staff were wearing face masks at all times. Not all guests were wearing face masks but you could tell that they were within their own families and the property is so spacious that it’s easy to social distance from other parties. Although it was unfortunate that their f&b options were not available, I understood the reasoning why and it made me more comfortable to stay there knowing that they were abiding by the city guidelines. The room was very clean and comfortable to stay in. Because all IHG properties have to follow the strict protocols of the brand’s Way of Clean program, I would be comfortable staying at any IHG property