by Ellen Alderink
That's a common expression. We say it because we want people to take care of themselves and stay healthy, especially in these times. We’re experiencing a world-wide pandemic. Someday future generations may read their history books (or devices) about COVID-19 just as we learned about the Bubonic plague or the Spanish Influenza. Journals and diaries will be read for understanding what it was like in personal life. Newspaper archives and science journals will be searched for statistics. But right now, we are living it. Who would have thought we’d have so many weeks of staying home, no social activities, no school, many not working or working from home? And when activities resume, what is safe? Here is how we will "take care" --what we will do to keep the virus at bay so when travel and social activities begin again guests will feel comfortable at the Ludington House.
The room journals and online reviews often mention how clean we keep the rooms. I owe it to my mom, other innkeepers (and YouTube) for all they taught me. Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association keeps us on our toes as well with regular inspections using a nine-page quality assurance checklist. But now we are tweaking our methods even more for your safety. I'm sure some routines will change as we try them out and adjust. This is what we have planned.
Starting with our check-in procedure, we've altered the process so much of it can be done ahead with an early check-in form via email. We will greet you at the door wearing a mask and probably won't shake your hand (but believe me, we will be glad to see you!) Our room keys will be sanitized. We will have hand sanitizer in guest rooms and public areas. If you’d prefer a self-check in, call us ahead of time and we’ll make arrangements.
Food preparation and serving
Bob, our chef, has completed the "Serve Safe" training by the National Restaurant Association, learning how to handle and prepare food safely. As we have always done, kitchen counters are sprayed with a bleach solution before we begin. We wash our hands when we begin work, after we handle meat, when we sneeze etc. Most of the time we are wearing gloves as well. At this time we will also be wearing masks while we work.
We are incorporating some social distancing practices. No more than two guests will be seated at a table unless there is a family connection or people traveling together. Guests will be seated at least six feet apart. We will bring the meal as one course and put the coffee and beverages on the table at that time as well. We will offer multiple seating times, so guests are not all at breakfast at the same time.
Bob’s wonderful cookies will be packaged and waiting in your room rather than in a communal cookie jar. Coffee cups and glasses will also be in your room.
Knowing that the virus can live on hard surfaces for quite some time, up to 24 hours, we are blocking guest rooms until the day after the guests leave so much of the possible virus can die, opening the windows for extra ventilation which will draw the virus out as well. We will not refresh rooms while you are here but will have a way to exchange dirty for clean cups, towels etc.
Housekeepers are not only cleaning every surface possible, all the bedding and linen will be washed, light switches and other frequently touched surfaces will be disinfected. Many accessories like decorative pillows, flower arrangements, etc will be temporarily removed. Frequently touched items in the common areas will be disinfected multiple times a day.
We will interact with you during your stay but will be wearing masks and we ask guests to wear one when in the public area of the inn or in restaurants or enclosed public spaces in town. If you need to reach us you will be able to text us, call, knock on the kitchen door or ring the bell in the front hall. Or try the outside doorbell. One of us is usually around.
Thinking positively--enjoying our great outdoors at the beach or in the state park, kayaking, hiking or biking--these are great activities to enjoy in Ludington with few restrictions and little chance of being infected. Most of our restaurants are open and offering delivery or take-out at the moment. Hopefully in June they will get the okay to have dine-in service.
These new practices seem to be impersonal and even uncomfortable, not to mention, costly and more work. However, we lost a good innkeeper/friend to COVID-19. He fought a hard battle and is dearly missed. We know other innkeepers who have a spouse with health problems that make COVID 19 a real concern. Then I realize, for me, this new way of doing things is only an inconvenience. It’s for the safety of guests as well as workers. We will get through this working together.
We pray for your safety and good health this summer; for jobs and financial recovery as well. We look forward to your stay at the Ludington House!
Sources that shaped our methods:
Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association Quality Assurance Checklist
ALHA (American Lodging and Hotel Association) “Stay Safe Guidelines
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility Guidelines
US Travel Association “Travel in the New Normal Guidelines
National Restaurant Association Serve Safe
training, “COVID-19 Reopening Guidance