Hotel Stays During COVID-19: What to Expect

I dabbed my toe into the pool of post-shutdown travel recently. As travel experts predicted, I substituted a canceled summer vacation with a road trip. The road trip did not take us far, 130 miles to the door of Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale. I’m here to report what I learned and what you can expect from hotel stays during COVID-19.

Tips for hotel stays during coronavirus

Woman's toe points to aquamarine water in clear swimming pool
UNSTOPPABLE Stacey dabs her toe into the swimming pool at Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale

In this day and age, it is prudent to check out your hotel’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols before booking. The hotel plan should reassure you that your stay will be as safe and welcoming as possible. Before I left home, I learned that Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale had implemented strict protocols with their Pristine Clean Program that include:

  • All associates, who are trained on COVID-19 safety and sanitizing protocols, undergo wellness and temperature checks before beginning work.
  • Staff uses Enhanced sanitizing practices throughout the resort, with extra attention paid to high-touch surfaces and public areas.
  • Restaurant teams sanitize service stations, service carts, beverage stations and countertops hourly.

Table of Contents

Balconies with mid-century modern architecture, minimalist white metal fence around garden/patio area and Camelback Mountain from my patio

What to expect when you check-in for your hotel stay during COVID-19

Palm trees and entry portico of Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale with futuristic design
Checking in at Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale, Arizona

We’ve all experienced lifestyle changes because of the pandemic. And changes are evident in the travel scene, too. The first thing that I noticed as we approached the front entrance of Mountain Shadows was the absence of parking for valet services. The bellman met us as usual, but he told us that for the health and safety of patrons as well as associates, there was no valet parking. However, he invited us to self-park in the spaces close to the front door, which usually are reserved for valet. Score!

We stood six feet away as he unloaded our luggage onto a cart. The doorman opened the entry, so we didn’t have to touch the door. Once inside, we noted the Mask Kiosk in the lobby, which we didn’t make use of since we had already donned our masks. I checked before we left home to see if masks were required in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. The front desk staff was masked and behind the plexiglass shield that we’ve all come to expect during the coronavirus era. The credit card reader was on my side of the plexiglass, making it a touchless check-in.

Coronavirus pandemic has changed hotel etiquette

The bellman (or is ‘bellhop’ a more politically-correct term?) showed us to our room. Out of habit, I tried to hand him my room key so he could open the door, but no, that etiquette is a thing of the past. He courteously reminded me that he could not touch my room key. “This is part of the new normal,” I said to him and my husband, Dan.

First Impressions: Guestroom

panoramic view of guset room with glass shower enclosure, white bedding, kilim rug in natural tones
Mountain Shadow Resort's Garden Room | photo by UNSTOPPABLE Stacey

The guestroom’s trendy minimalist design make it especially comforting for those worried about germs. The hard surfaces such as glass and concrete that are such an iconic part of mid-century modern design are easy to clean and give a feeling of spaciousness. Read more about the architectural design of the hotel and interior design of our room.

This was the first time that I’d slept in a bed other than my own since mid-March, and I was startled to find that, psychologically, my travel behaviors had changed. Upon entering the room, I unexpectedly felt a bit germaphobic and scanned the room for signs of sanitization. Not that I acted like Adrian Monk from the TV series Monk, but I did note that I should warn you all about this unexpected behavior. You might surprise yourself, too, with being much more concerned about germs when you enter your hotel room than you anticipate. Once I found the place to be ultra-clean, I settled into the relaxing retreat and didn’t think about it again.

Although trash removal and fresh towels and Keurig coffee supplies were available upon request, we were disappointed that housekeeping service was not provided. My colleague, travel writer Mary Farrah, found the same to be true during her recent stay in a hotel in Carmel, California, so I think we will see this as a trend in the hotel industry.

Importance of relaxing hotel stays during COVID-19

View of Camelback Mountain from resort swimming pool
Relaxing retreat with Camelback Mountain view from swimming pool | Photo Courtesy of Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale

If you are using your hotel stay during COVID-19 as a balm for cabin fever, then it’s important to choose a hotel that makes a relaxing retreat.

The serene backdrop of Camelback Mountain provided a soothing escape—that’s where the resort got its name, Mountain Shadows, because its literally in the mountain’s shadows. The manicured landscaping with palms, lush greenery and flowering vines created an oasis in the desert for us as well as the cottontails, families of quail and lizards, which we spotted during morning walks.

Outdoor activities more important than ever for hotel stays during COVID-19

Green golf course in front of red rock mountain with blue skies
Hole 14 on The Short Course at Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale | Courtesy photo

Golfers practiced social distancing on The Short Course, which weaves its way up and down the foothills in a leisurely fashion. We heard that as a COVID-19 safety measure, golf pros added barriers to every hole so that golf balls don’t drop to the very bottom of the hole. The fitness center was open when we visited; however, it’s since closed due to the latest state guidelines.

We enjoyed lunch poolside after a lazy morning next to the waterfall that connects the two 75-foot pools. It seemed to me that the other guests were more friendly than usual pool-goers, maybe because we all had more space with the plush chaise lounges set up for proper social distancing. BTW, according to CDC experts, proper operation and disinfection of swimming pools should kill the virus, which causes coronavirus.

Convenience of in-house hotel restaurants is eases your mind during COVID-19

Modern, open hearth is center stage in this bar and dining space dressed in natural tones
Hearth '61 at Mountain Shadows Resort - The Living Room and Bar | Courtesy photo

When I chose the date of our escape, I didn’t know that we would be in town for Arizona Restaurant Week. At Hearth’61 right inside the resort, I ordered from Chef Charles Wiley’s three-course tasting menu prepared for Arizona Restaurant Week for only $44.

The masked host sat us appropriately distanced from other diners. Although there were fewer patrons in the Hearth’61 dining room, the arrangement of the furnishings made the space feel comfortable, and it was nice to be around other people and hear the buzz of their unhurried conversations. Overall, I felt like the hotel restaurant staff was better trained on COVID-19 health and safety than other restaurants that I’ve visited recently. (Not that I’ve gone to many restaurants since the pandemic, so I am not an expert. I’m simply reporting how I felt during the dining experience.) Read more about what to expect from the hotel dining experience.

So then, here is what to expect from a hotel stay during the coronavirus pandemic. I found it safe for a hotel stay during COVID-19. As I said earlier, do your homework to make sure your hotel has updated cleaning protocols. Or rely on my experience. I highly recommend Mountain Shadows Resort for its cleanliness, attention to detail and trained staff. Check out rates for your dates now.

Please leave a comment below about what you’ve found during your post-lockdown travels. We all would like to know.

Mountain Shadows Resort
5445 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley

Continuing reading about Mountain Shadows Resort at Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale Hotel Review

For info on area spas, check out The Great Girls Getaway Spa Tour

As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with accommodations and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

In addition, this blog, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel, contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, Stacey earns a commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help reduce the costs of keeping this travel blog active. 

Further, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for reading.

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8 thoughts on “Hotel Stays During COVID-19: What to Expect”

  1. As a fellow travel writer, I too am doing road trips this summer.
    I wipe down any room I am staying at with Lysol spray before I touch anything. It’s a second level of comfort to me to know that I have cleaned every surface even though the hotel has said they have an extensive cleaning protocol.
    I also do not dine indoors, but rather only on patios or grab take out and eat at a nearby park. Studies are showing that indoor dining no matter if social distanced has more risks for virus contagion than outside.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Deb. Good to know what others are doing to cure the travel bug. Where are you traveling this summer?

  2. Hi, Stacey. Alan and I just returned from three weeks in the Carolinas and Virginia. Most of our nights were spent with family or friends. But for the five nights we were in hotels/motels, we found a variety of amenities (or lack of). One motel offered nothing in the breakfast room (not even coffee), but gave us a brown bag with a muffin and apple in it. They did, however, have the in-room coffee maker working. In all the other rooms, there was no in-room coffee. And in one place there were not even cups/glasses for our use. The best amenities were at the Comfort Inn in Charleston, SC. They had no tables for breakfast, but coffee and many individually packaged items were available on tables to be picked up and taken back to our rooms. No swimming pools were open in any of the motels.
    Our accommodations were obviously not at the same price point as yours in Scottsdale. But I thought some might like to know what is/is not happening in the other accommodations.

    • Welcome home and thanks so much for your information. Yes, we are all interested in what is happening in accommodations around the country. I would be SOOO disappointed with no in-room coffee. Also, so interesting about no cups or glasses available in some rooms. I always like those individually wrapped disposable cups and plastic glasses. No, not very re-use friendly, but safe and healthy. Hope to see you soon and hear more about your cross-country road trip.

  3. Great info Stacey. Agnes and I want to travel to see the grand kids but are really reluctant. You have given me hope. Keep travelling but keep on staying safe.

    • You’re so right: staying safe is the most important thing. Wear masks, wash your hands, stand six feet away from others. Research state restrictions and Covid numbers. Then make your plan. It’s a different world out there: plan accordingly.


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