How B&Bs will make your stay safer

When COVID-19 stay-home orders expire and you start traveling again, you might find that the friendly smiles of bed and breakfast innkeepers are hidden under masks.

Box explains that innkeepers adapt to new safety protocols when they become available.Your smiles might be covered, too, either at your option or on request or by order of the governor.

These days almost everyone is thinking about how we and our extended families and friends are going to interact with each other and our world when the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic begin to lessen.

Michigan B&B innkeepers are not only thinking about it, but many are also making plans to provide an even safer and more sanitized experience at their bed and breakfasts than you ever found before.

Here are some things that might change. Click names to read more about the B&Bs mentioned.

How your arrival at a B&B might change

You’ll find self-check-in or low-contact check-in at more B&Bs. Keypad entry systems with codes customized to each guest have already been popular at Maple Cove B&B in Leonard and many other inns. Many guests prefer this method.

A “touch-less” check-in process is being implemented at many inns and will resemble the inn’s approach to late check-ins. During Covid, many innkeepers used the following process: “We leave an envelope outside the front door containing directions to the room and keys to the front door. We have removed our check-in desk and will not require guests to sign in. We will ask guests to use hand sanitizer, available near the door, before they pick up their envelope and enter the house.”

Three innkeepers at The Dempsey Manor Inn show off their masks and protective booties.
Innkeepers (from left) Clint, Jan, and Jim at Dempsey Manor Inn show off the booties they will wear and provide to guests.

At Always a Holiday! B&B in East Tawas, guests will still be asked to sign in, but they’ll use a brand-new pen which then becomes their pen.

At Glen Arbor B&B and Cottages in Glen Arbor, guests might be greeted at the front door by a staff member holding an infrared forehead thermometer. At The Dempsey Manor Inn in Manistee, guests will be asked don booties, which the inn provides.

Please don’t be offended by the measures innkeepers are taking. Remember that B&B’s guests come from all over and that this is a time of transition for all of us. Any required precautions will have been disclosed to you before arrival.

Regarding the extra measures that some innkeepers are asking for, do consider the possibility that the household includes someone with an underlying health condition requiring extra carefulness so long as the coronavirus spreads. Most B&Bs are operated by one or two persons. If the innkeeper were to become ill with the virus, it could have a devastating effect on the business.

How an inn’s common areas might be different

When guests are once again allowed to use the common areas of a B&B, the innkeeper’s introductory welcome tour might be conducted while you pause in the foyer, all of you wearing masks and standing six feet apart. Or the tour might now be a video or PowerPoint presentation shared with you even before you arrive.

Masks sewn at Judson Heath Colonial Inn
Innkeeper Jenn Davenport of Judson Heath Colonial Inn has been making chic masks to provide for guests who didn’t bring their own.

At many inns, guests will no longer write in guestbooks or find games, magazines, or travel literature in rooms and common areas. “We are removing everything that multiple people could touch,” said Jim Bailey of Sherwood Forest B&B in Douglas. “We will give guests a visitors guide and map at check-in. Informational cards or pamphlets about area attractions will be given out on request.”

As guests enjoy themselves, keeping an inn’s sitting rooms, verandas, and other common areas tidy and clean customarily happens in the background, as if done by elves. These days, the elves might be more visible, wiping down door handles, tables, and chairs frequently. 

You’re also likely to find more hand-sanitizing stations or wipes for your use. The winemaker at Chateau Chantal in Traverse City manufactured a hand sanitizer for staff and guests.

Some B&Bs will limit the number of guests 

Some B&Bs will at least temporarily reduce occupancy, either to facilitate social distancing or to allow time for deeper cleaning and for air-borne virus to die.

Marie-Chantal Dalese with a display of to-go snacks and wine at Chateau Chantal
Marie-Chantal Dalese, president and CEO, shows to-go bottles of wine and snacks that Chateau Chantal has made available during some hours. Also seen at lower left is the inn and winery’s house-made hand sanitizer.

Oak Creek Lodge in Bannister will schedule more time between a room departure and a new arrival in that room. At White Swan Inn in Whitehall, as soon as a new reservation comes in, innkeeper Cathy Russell will block out the room’s availability for 24 hours before and after the booking.

When guests depart a room at Prairieside Suites Luxury B&B in Grandville, said innkeeper Cheri Antozak, “One of us will go in wearing a mask and gloves to turn everything off and lock the door. Then, for the following three days, to protect our staff and guests, that room will be unavailable and not made ready for new guests.”

B&Bs with shared bathrooms are likely to block off guest rooms to eliminate sharing by unrelated parties.

Extra efforts to achieve clean, sanitized accommodations

More travelers these days might wonder: Are this room and bathroom really as clean as they look? B&Bs offer the best chance that your accommodations were cleaned to the highest standards.

You probably know by now that spritz-spritz-wipe is insufficient to disinfect a countertop or other surface and that Lysol or a similar product needs to sit at least 45 seconds to do its job. Many B&B innkeepers approach the cleaning of guest rooms and bathrooms as a multi-tasking project; first, spraying everything that needs spraying, and then shifting attention to something else in that or another room before returning to wipe down each surface and make it shiny and sanitary.

Laundry room at Glen Arbor B&B
A peek inside the laundry room at Glen Arbor B&B and Cottages. When the back of the house looks this good, it bespeaks the quality of accommodations guests will experience in their rooms.

Comforters and duvet covers are out and triple-sheeting of beds is in at Inn at Breezy Hill Farm in Bellaire, Chateau Chantal on Old Mission Peninsula, House on the Hill B&B in Ellsworth, and Judson Heath Colonial Inn in Saugatuck, among others. Triple-sheeting is a deluxe method of bed making that sandwiches a bed’s warmth layer, such as blankets, between two pristine layers of sheets, in addition to the fitted sheet covering the mattress and mattress pad. 

If duvets are used in some places, they will probably be fresh for each occupancy.

After every guest departure at Nordic Pineapple B&B in St. Johns, even towels and washcloths that appear untouched and unused will be removed and washed.

Judson Heath Colonial Inn in Saugatuck plans a weekly change of the filter for the heating and air-conditioning system and behind the filter will place a UVC light, said to be effective in killing airborne pathogens.

And yes, wherever standards are high, the disinfecting routine includes light switches, remotes, door handles, upholstery, and throw pillows. 

How B&Bs will make breakfast service as tasty as ever and safer, too

Big dining tables are out and two-tops are in at many bed and breakfasts. More in-room or to-go breakfasts will be offered. If the dining room is being used, guests might see staggered breakfast times, scheduled the day before.

Innkeeper Jen Hinderer says Lamplighter B&B of Ludington is “offering private seating in our dining, parlor or library or outside on the deck/patio, based upon occupancy.” If guests prefer, they can get a to-go breakfast. 

Hard-boiled eggs and avocado on toast
To meet a possible demand for more to-go and in-room breakfasts, many innkeepers have been trying new recipes that will delight guests’ palates and also be easy to package, to deliver and to eat.

Guided by a breakfast sign-up form which guests fill out each evening of their stay, The Spring Lighthouse in Elk Rapids will plan on only two couples at a time in the dining room. A grab-and-go breakfast will be an alternate option.

Breakfast in your cozy robes has always been part of romantic getaways at the Hotel Saugatuck in Saugatuck and Huron House in Oscoda, where room-delivered breakfast trays arrive at the time of your choice.

On request, a Continental breakfast will be waiting in your in-room refrigerator when you arrive at Prairieside Suites Luxury B&B in Grandville.


Protocols still being formulated at many B&Bs

All Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association member inns are quality-assured before joining and periodically thereafter. Independent, trained reviewers go from room to room conducting an inspection using a nine-page checklist. Day-to-day operational standards are set by each individual inn, guided by best practices of the industry. At the time of this writing, many B&B owners are still deciding how they will provide first-rate hospitality in a pandemic.

Not every B&B owner feels a need to make changes because of the coronavirus.

“Of all the people inquiring about reservations lately, I have not had one person ask what we are doing differently for the virus,” a Southwest Michigan innkeeper said. “We are going to do the same thorough disinfecting processes we have always done and provide the same service we always have.”

Innkeepers Jen and Dan Hinderer
A reminder of the reasons most B&B innkeepers are implementing new precautions for the safety of guests and family. Innkeepers Jen and Dan Hinderer and their two boys in front of Lamplighter B&B of Ludington.

If you have questions about protocols in effect at a B&B where you plan to stay, just ask. Innkeepers will not be offended. 

Some changes — for example, the use of an infrared thermometer to check temperatures — might be temporary until the crisis has passed or a vaccine is readily available. 

Other changes might become part of a lasting new routine. 

Patricia Widmayer, co-owner of Glen Arbor B&B and Cottages in Glen Arbor said, “Most innkeepers know we can’t simply return to the time before a deadly virus began spreading around the world. At least until the threat has passed, we need to go further to protect guests and our staff and families.” Widmayer serves as president of the board of the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association, of which about 80 Michigan inns are members.

MBBA is recommending that member innkeepers follow the protocols addressed in one, all, or a combination of guidelines that have been put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by the American Hotel and Motel Association (AHLA), and by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). Their published standards are linked if you click on the names.

Some innkeepers are publishing COVID statements on their websites. We link a few here to illustrate how much thought Michigan innkeepers are putting into their response to the pandemic:

When you travel to Michigan, plan to stay at a quality-assured bed and breakfast.