Coronavirus - the more interesting hotel enhancements
We have carried out a risk assessment and have refined our in-house protocols to ensure that we remain 'Covid Secure'. Knockendarroch was always a very clean environment given the level of detail and effort that is put in by our housekeeping team but we have, as you would expect, enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices throughout the hotel as well as bringing in measures to allow us to meet social distancing guidelines. We have published everything you need to know over on our coronavirus protocols page. You can be assured that the safety of our guests and staff will always be central in our thinking and we will be complying with Scottish Government guidance at all times.
Most of these enhancements and new protocols are in line with what you might expect of us and are fairly mundane in nature, however we have made a few more 'interesting' enhancements and introduced some new technologies that we thought you might like to hear about.
A stunning new restaurant extension
One of our bigger decisions was to accelerate a plan to build a stunning orangerie-style extension to our restaurant. The original plan was to build in December 2020 but the benefits of more space in the restaurant as soon as possible were obvious and so we decided to build mid-summer. The new restaurant opened on 17th September 2020 and it is fantastic. A stunning space with high ceilings and full of light. Thanks to Edinburgh based Mozolowski & Murray who designed and built the orangerie with speed, efficiency and accuracy in just 30 days.
A new restaurant layout
We have also made some adjustments to the layout of the restaurant. In order to make the restaurant workable, we have removed 40% of our tables from the original room and arranged the remaining ones around the edge, creating plenty of space in the middle for guests and staff to safely circulate. Although most chairs are set in a 'back to back' arrangement we decided to introduce large Perspex screens between each table. You can get a feel for how this looks in the video below (video was made pre-orangerie). We actually think the screens look great and they serve to create an enhanced feeling of security for guests without having a detrimental affect on the atmosphere of the room. The new orangerie now has five tables, allowing us to safely return to our pre-covid 19 capacity.
Perspex is amazing stuff transmitting more light than actual glass! In order to be able to make use of as much of the guest lounge as possible we have also used a couple of strategically placed Perspex screens in there as well. By using these screens we think that we have found a nice balance between adhering to guidelines, making our guests feel safe and secure, and retaining the same great atmosphere of the hotel.
Meet Nuke Skywalker, our UVc lightsaber wielding robot
As well as enhancing our cleaning procedures at a housekeeping level we have also introduced some new technologies to help us super-sanitise the hotel. The first of these is the purchase of a machine that uses the well documented sterilising power of UVc light. The short explanation of how this works is that UV light of a particular wavelength breaks down and neutralises pathogens including viruses in a matter of minutes.
This technology has been used for decades in medical environments and Vivid Hospitality Solutions, a hospitality technology company based in London, has developed a version specifically for the hotel environment - both safe and effective. A safety device is attached to the outside of the door (UVc light is not safe for skin or eyes) and the 15 minute zapping process is started. You can see from the photo below why we've nicknamed ours Nuke Skywalker.
We use UVc in the public areas of the hotel such as the lounge and the restaurant.
Fogging and misting with stabilised hypochlorous acid
Whilst we think Nuke Skywalker will be a valuable addition to our range of enhanced hygiene measures, no technology is perfect. UVc light does not work in shadow areas within a room and cannot be used everywhere in the hotel for obvious safety reasons. As such, we have decided to add another layer of sanitisation in the form of fogging. Again, this technology has been around for many years but is now being adapted for use in hospitality environments. In essence, these hand held machines emit a super fine particle chemical fog which neutralises pathogens in the air and on the surfaces it touches.
The key to using this concept successfully in a hotel environment is firstly ensuring the fog particulate is very small (5 microns) so that nothing ends up overly damp. Secondly, the chemical used must be effective on viruses including coronaviruses. Thirdly, it must also be non-toxic and 100% safe for humans and cause no damage whatsoever to the fixtures, fittings and electronics of the hotel. The bio-chemical we have chosen is called stabilised hypochlorous acid - essentially ionised salt water. It is organic, food safe, vegan and contains no irritants. We plan to use fogging throughout the hotel including the kitchen, storage and back office areas.
We are also using stabilised hypochlorous acid in misting bottles for spray/wipe and spray/evaporate sanitisation throughout the building, including the soft furnishings, mattresses, pillows and headboards.
These are slightly experimental measures for us and we will almost certainly end up preferring the use of one of these technologies over the other. However, we felt that in order to give our staff and our guests maximum reassurance at this stage, we should be implementing a wide range of the possible solutions that are available to us.
If you have any questions, then please get in touch with the hotel. Remember to check out our coronavirus protocols page prior to your stay.
Struan and Louise