Hotels, along with most other high-occupancy facilities, have undergone numerous cleaning and disinfection protocol changes in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many have utilized new equipment like electrostatic disinfectant sprayers and high-tech ultraviolet cleaning machines, one accommodation in Mexico has taken hotel sanitation to new levels.
Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort, near downtown Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, is not only cleaning and disinfecting its rooms but also its guests.
The way it works is actually pretty simple. Each time a guest arrives, they must enter a cabin resembling a glass telephone booth. There, their temperature is taken and they are sprayed on all sides with an odourless antiseptic mist that can’t be absorbed or inhaled and has “broad-spectrum efficacy” proven against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes. Once that process is complete, they get the green light – literally – to leave the booth.
If that level of hotel sanitation wasn’t enough, their luggage and bags are also sanitized via a separate process.
The booths are stationed around the resort complex adjacent to any entrances to indoor space and must be used every time a guest enters or re-enters the property.
It’s an innovative attempt to bolster hotel sanitation, although the jury is still out on just how much of an effect they have in practice.
“While ultraviolet [and] antimicrobial ‘booths’ have become popular as a potential tool to help stop the spread of germs, facilities should focus on enforcing social distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing and frequent disinfecting of high-touch surfaces with an EPA-approved disinfectant,” said Saskia Popescu, MD, an infectious disease epidemiologist.
Kumi Smith, assistant professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, added that the innovation has “a whiff of security theatre, since the [SARS-CoV-2] microorganism that we should be concerned about colonizes our nasopharyngeal passages, not our skin.”
The truth, it seems, is that if a traveller has already contracted COVID-19, these hotel sanitation booths won’t cure them.
What may be their main purpose in practice is that they are a highly visible and attention-grabbing way of announcing that a hotel or other facility is making health and safety adjustments in light of the pandemic. That plays a large role in boosting consumer confidence.
Having said that, when combined with multiple other more standard precautions like mask-wearing, hand-washing, and temperature screening, as they are at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, the booths can fairly be seen as one more step in the fight to stop the spread of the virus.