Better use of resources possible in hotels?

27th of January 2022 Article by Katja Scholz
Better use of resources possible in hotels?

In Germany ECJ's Katja Scholz looks at cleaning regimes in hotels, and asks if resources could be better used.

I recently spent a week at a spa hotel in the Bavarian Forest. During my stay I became increasingly aware of the hotel’s cleaning routine. Whether in the corridors and hallways, in the rooms, in the lifts, in the restaurant, in the hotel lobby, or in the spa complex, the staff were busy cleaning from early morning until late at night.

Because of Covid regulations the cleaning regime was even more visible by the worksheets where cleaning task were recorded. I felt safe, the hygiene principles were consistent and it was spotlessly clean throughout.

I met the friendly cleaner on our floor every morning, as she was already busy in the room next door: cleaning the bathroom, bringing fresh towels, making the beds and vacuum cleaning. I had to question all this. Was it really necessary to provide fresh towels every day? Do the guests do that at home too? Clean their own bathroom every day?

I spoke to the cleaner as she asked me if I also needed fresh towels or if she should clean my room. She told me nearly 80 per cent of the guests wanted their room cleaned every day, along with fresh towels and some ask for fresh bed linen too.

Naturally, the hotel classification system in Germany and Europe includes clear criteria which have to be met. And yet: is that really necessary? Can someone staying in a hotel literally waste so many resources with a clear conscience? Many kW hours of electricity for the daily vacuum cleaning, litres of water for cleaning the bathroom, unnecessary creation of plastic waste caused by throwing away half-used bin liners...

Because of the pandemic, some hotels have now changed their procedures so they only clean the rooms if the guest requests this by hanging a notice on the door. Others have introduced the so-called Opt Out option whereby the guests can indicate at check-in how often they would like their room cleaned and how often their towels and bed linen should be changed. Some people argue cleaning staff could have no work – wrong.

The cleaning staff in the spa hotel I was in are paid according to their hours of work and have other activities. When a cleaner has finished cleaning the rooms, he/she will then move on to the corridors and hallways, the lobby or the spa. There can’t be enough cleaning cycles in the spa: sauna, pool area, loungers, showers – increased cleaning here is surely more appropriate than daily room cleaning.

Although the use of resources in the spa complex and hotel lobby is already quite high – but that’s appropriate. For when several hundred guests walk through the lobby several times a day, that must create a higher accumulation of dirt than in a hotel room which a guest leaves in the morning and doesn’t enter again until the evening.

As a guest, I have no influence on the hotel’s cleaning policy, nor on the products used, the possibility of electricity generation through the use of photovoltaic systems. But I can influence the cleaning in my room. This is only a small part of the whole, but it adds up over the total number of rooms.

And if five plastic bags a week can be saved, because it is better to dispose of the bin liner when it is completely full, or a few kW hours of electricity, each guest, by exercising personal responsibility and environmental awareness, can make a contribution to saving natural resources.

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