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WEB EXCLUSIVE It may not be safe to travel just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a staycation in one of Raleigh’s soon-to-be reopening boutique hotels. As Gov. Roy Cooper slowly begins to lift North Carolina’s stay at home restrictions, both Guest House and Origin Hotel are gearing up to welcome guests back into their rooms with strict social distancing guidelines and additional state recommended safety precautions.
For Origin Hotel, the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t have happened at a worse time. The hotel’s entire team was ready to open the hotel on March 19, only to decide to remain closed as restaurants were shutting their doors and the future was unknown.
“Opening a hotel in the midst of a global pandemic has been quite the undertaking,” says Karlee Tanel, Origin Hotel’s brand activation manager. “Over the past two months we’ve made a series of difficult decisions.”
Now, Origin’s plan is to start with a soft opening and fully open both the hotel and its restaurant, Good Day Good Night, in mid-June. Both the hotel and the restaurant will operate differently than they normally would, given the circumstances, Tanel says. One of the first components of the new operation will be limiting contact from person to person. The lobby area will be limited to four guests at a time and will have logos on the floor indicating where guests can safely stand six feet apart from each other.
“At Origin Hotel, we love people and are extremely focused on person-to-person connection and connecting our guests to the community,” Tanel says. “While it may take some adjusting, we know that our person to person connection will still be a staple of the brand, only from a safe distance of 6 feet away.”
Origin is also introducing terminals that allow guests to use a self-service tablet to check in, process a credit or debit card payment, make their own room keys and check out of the hotel without any contact with a front desk agent. Guests will be able to check in and out on their mobile devices and use their phone as a key card to enter their rooms. The changes will do away with the typical person-to-person contact that comes with staying at the hotel, but it will make the experience more comfortable for both staff and guests.
Both Origin and Guest House, which reopened at the beginning of May, are practicing heightened sanitation as well, with staff continually sterilizing surfaces that guests use often, including bell carts, elevators and the front desk. Guest House owner Matt Tomasulo says they’re also using UV light baths for smaller items like remotes and pens for another layer of precaution. An eight-room hotel, Guest House is currently only allowing four of their guest rooms to be occupied at once with a minimum 48-hour window between guests staying in each room.
While many will be hesitant to travel to the area in the coming months, Tomasulo says he is testing other ways Guest House can be a resource for Raleighites and other Triangle locals. He sees the boutique hotel becoming a choice spot for a relaxing staycation, where people can celebrate anniversaries or elopements or just get away from their kids for awhile.
“The world keeps turning,” reads a post on Guest House’s Instagram page. “We’re here, ready to host you and your dears, with the utmost care and hospitality that we can offer from a safe distance. It’s also a pretty perfect time of year to sit on a balcony with some tasty local take-out food and sips!”
It’s a bummer that we all won’t get to enjoy that summer vacation we’ve been looking forward to all year, but a staycation at one of Raleigh’s boutique hotels, complete with in-room coffee service and an elaborate takeout meal from a local restaurant, doesn’t sound too shabby right now.
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