The evidence that times have changed is everywhere, from the face masks we wear to the events we have to forgo.

Adapting to these changes is paramount in making timeshare resort guests feel comfortable and safe in their homes away from home. Not only are our guests’ health and safety vital, but we also must address their psychological comfort; they need to feel our resorts are clean and thus more likely to be virus-free.

The entire hospitality industry is not walking, but running, to implement safety protocols throughout properties. While hospitals used to take design cues from hospitality companies, we’re now looking to hospitals and other healthcare facilities for procedures and materials that are easier to clean or germ-resistant.

We’re also looking for guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health-related agencies, and we’re forming partnerships with trusted brands with a reputation for disinfecting, such as Lysol and Clorox. Here are some of the ways this should affect resort design and function for the foreseeable future:

Guest Arrival: Instead of a valet service and bellhops, resorts should provide guests with a sanitized luggage cart upon arrival and directions for self-parking. If a resort does provide valet service, strict sanitation procedures should be required.

Common Areas: New protocols should affect the design layout, materials, and signage. Many resorts are accelerating the move to digital check-in through apps and websites, along with digital room keys.

When guests do check in, they should use separate pods featuring smooth quartz counters and acrylic partitions separating staff and guests. There also should be signage encouraging guests to follow social distancing recommendations, such as directional paths and the number of elevator occupants.

This is a great opportunity to add your corporate branding and an element of fun. For example, instead of an “X” on the floor to show guests where to stand, why not use flip-flop graphics? When guests need to stop at a certain point to wait for assistance, you could use a cartoon character cutout with their hand holding a stop sign. Vacations are meant to be fun, and anything we can do to keep them that way will be appreciated.

Guests love bright spaces, so increase the lighting level to assure guests that every- thing has been cleaned and sanitized. Using whites or light colors in furnishings and décor serves the same purpose.

Resorts are adopting new technologies such as sprayers with an electrostatically charged disinfecting mist and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects. Have staff be out and visible while using this equipment to highlight your thoroughness and put guests’ minds at ease.

In public restrooms, add touchless fixtures, soap dispensers, and automatic doors. Sanitizing stations should be placed throughout common areas, along with touchless trash cans to dispose of wipes and used gloves or face masks.

Unit Design: In their private areas, guests still will crave that homelike comfort they have come to expect from timeshare resorts. By incorporating new materials and technology, you can help keep them safe while easing their minds. The ingenuity of many of our industry suppliers continues to amaze me, as they advertise products that
didn’t exist a few months ago.

When selecting fabrics, specify solution-dyed, bleach-cleanable textiles whenever possible. There are also antibacterial fabrics that help protect against mold, bacteria, and viruses.

For case goods, look to materials that are less porous so they are easier to clean. This includes smooth quartz or glass, smooth wood, or laminate finishes. Copper finishes may shine during this time, as the metal’s antimicrobial effects have been recognized since 1700 B.C. Elevated platforms and smooth finishes with fewer crevices or less-ornate detail ease cleaning.

The bed is a key element of unit design, and changes here don’t have to reduce guest comfort. For headboards, consider antimicrobial materials or vinyl. Remove extraneous elements such as bolster pillows, accent pillows, and bed scarves. Add washable printed top sheets and vinyl box spring covers that can be wiped
down with disinfectant after every guest stay.

Reduce the number of high-touch surfaces by installing light switches activated by a hand wave, hands-free kitchen faucets, automatic soap dispensers, and other technologies. Phone apps can be used to control televisions, blinds, and thermostats.

In bathrooms, we may see a return of the paper wrap on the toilet seat, but this is another place to consider fun graphics. Again, nonporous white or light-colored surfaces create a clean feeling.

When selecting flooring, look at luxury vinyl tile or tile with minimal grout lines. There are even tiles with Microban® technology to create an antibacterial shield.

This is just the beginning of a new, necessary wave of changing design, materials, and protocols put into action in a very short few months. It will be exciting to see what we do next.