Will Coronavirus Kill the Kimpton Love?

Kimpton Journeyman Suite Upgrade
Welcome Amenity at the Kimpton Journeyman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Kimpton Hotels has a loyal following thanks to its customer-centric culture and willingness to go the extra mile for guests. But when restrictions and precautions are in place, how will this impact the guest experience? In this article, we’ll look at some of the awesome benefits that guests enjoy and how they may be affected by the coronavirus.

What benefits can guests expect when staying at Kimpton?

One of the reasons I love staying at Kimpton hotels and resorts is that there are so many benefits included with your stay.

  • Morning Coffee + Tea Service
  • Loaner PUBLIC Bikes
  • In-Room Dining
  • Luxurious Robes
  • Minibar With Gourmet Local Treats
  • Refrigerator Available
  • In-Room Yoga Mats

But with the efforts to control the spread of coronavirus, how might the Kimpton experience that we all know and love change? I can’t confirm that all of these changes will happen, or happen in the way described below, but these changes make sense given the current environment.

Check-in procedures

Several hotel chains have been incorporating digital check-in and digital access to guest rooms for the last several years. With the IHG mobile app, you can check-in digitally and notify the local hotel what time to expect your arrival. You’ll receive a notification through the app when your room is ready for you.

This process minimizes the interaction between guests and hotel staff. While I appreciate the efficiency, I’m saddened at the loss of interaction with the desk staff. It is always nice to receive a hearty welcome with a huge smile when I arrive at a Kimpton hotel.

One feature that is lacking is the ability to access your room digitally with the mobile app. Obviously, this type of access has security concerns for yourself and your valuables, but IHG needs to launch this feature to stay competitive with Hilton and other brands that offer it.

Kimpton Secret Password

The Kimpton Secret Password is a seasonal promotion that occurs each summer and winter. When you check-in at the hotel, you mention the current Kimpton Secret Password and you’ll receive a special goody. The goodies vary from hotel to hotel and many locations put a special spin on it.

Some hotels have a grab bag of goodies or a wheel to spin. However, in the age of coronavirus, we want to limit touching things that others touch. Future Kimpton Secret Password goodies will most likely trend towards complimentary parking, drinks at the bar, or resort credits.

Kimpton Hotel Palomar Washington DC Kimpton Secret Password wheel
The Kimpton Secret Password wheel at the Hotel Palomar in Washington DC

Kimpton Wine Hour

Although each Kimpton hotel and resort is unique and custom-tailored to the local history, Kimpton Wine Hour is something that every hotel participates in. Every day from 5 pm to 6 pm, hotel guests congregate in the lobby to enjoy complimentary glasses of wine. Some hotels even offer local beers, liquor, and snacks for guests.

Kimpton Journeyman Wine Hour
So many delicious choices at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel.

I love wine hour because it is an opportunity to meet new people and trade local tips for the best things to do and places to eat around the hotel. These types of conversations are what I have with guests on my weekly podcast, We Travel There.

Coronavirus will change this honored tradition. Guests may not feel comfortable mingling with other guests. And you can’t have communal bottles of wine and other drinks & snacks out in the open where someone could cough or sneeze on them.

Instead, I think that Wine Hour will turn into complimentary glasses or bottles of wine available at the front desk. Or maybe the hotel will offer a complimentary glass of wine with your meal?

Coffee in the lobby

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ve made numerous trips throughout our stays down to the lobby to grab fresh morning coffee for Anna. Just like the concerns about Wine Hour, those concerns are the same with lobby coffee and tea.

In addition, to the concerns about coughing and sneezing nearby, the coffee and tea are self serve. So there will be multiple people touching the coffee pot and tea kettle each morning.

One option is that guests will be able to grab complimentary coffee at the on-site restaurant or bar. At the Everly Hotel in Los Angeles, Jane Q serves fresh coffee and pastries each morning. Kimpton Inner Circle members receive a special key that provides a free upgraded drink and a complimentary pastry.

Kimpton Everly Hotel Jane Q LA coffee and pastry
Coffee and pastry at the Jane Q LA at the Kimpton Everly Hotel

Yoga mats in the room

I keep telling myself that I will use the in-room yoga mats while on vacation, but I almost never do. Yoga is a great way to stretch out and can be an excellent workout.

With coronavirus concerns and the difficulty of cleaning them between each use, I can see that the yoga mats will disappear from inside guest rooms. It is possible that they can be requested from the front desk so that you can have access to them on an as-needed basis.

This way, the hotel knows which ones have been used so that they can ensure that they are thoroughly and properly cleaned between each use.

Hitting the gym

Not every Kimpton hotel and resort location has an on-site gym, but what will Kimpton do with those that offer this amenity?

When I’ve stayed at Kimpton properties, the gyms are not always heavily used, so I think that social distancing among guests is entirely possible. However, the hotel will have to step up its frequency of cleaning to reduce the potential for the virus to spread with guests touching so many of the same surfaces.

Kimpton 70 Park Avenue working out
Getting sweaty at the Kimpton 70 Park Avenue gym

Super comfy robes to lounge in

Another regular amenity found inside Kimpton hotel rooms is the super comfy robes. There are several Kimpton robe styles and you never know which style you’ll find until you open up the closet.

There are traditional robes and others with animal prints. Personally, I love the grey Rocky robe with the hoodie. Hint, hint – in case someone from Kimpton is reading this. You can even purchase your very own Kimpton robe to lounge around and relax at home. There are 17 different choices of Kimpton robes available.

I’m not sure how often the robes are changed in the rooms, but Kimpton is going to have to be more proactive with the robes. Just like the yoga mats, I’m not sure how often the Kimpton robes are used by guests. Hopefully, the robes are removed and washed between each guest stay.

Since many people use them before or after they hop in the shower, you’re talking about something that gets up close and personal with the guests. Crank up the heat and throw a little extra detergent into the wash to ensure that the robes aren’t vectors for spreading the virus.

Kimpton Everly Hotel Anna in robe getting ready for the pool vs
Anna loves the Kimpton robes. This stay was at the Everly Hotel in Los Angeles.

Inner Circle Welcome Amenity

One of my favorite perks of Kimpton Inner Circle elite status is having a custom welcome amenity waiting for me when I arrive in my room. I’m able to share my favorite things and the local Kimpton hotel staff puts their spin on my requests. Every hotel is different and some hotels have been known to have a little competition among them to see who can deliver the best welcome amenity.

With coronavirus, the Inner Circle Welcome Amenity benefits will have to change. First off, the hotels will limit the number of people and the frequency of hotel staff entering a guest’s room. Second, and most importantly, the more that food and drinks are exposed to the environment, the more likely they are to be exposed to coronavirus. The chances are slim, but you can imagine that IHG, Kimpton, and the hotel owner are being overly cautious right now.

Instead of the normal Welcome Amenity waiting for us in our rooms, we’ll be receiving the Welcome Amenity upon check-in. The goodies will not be a plate of fresh-baked cookies, gourmet bon-bons, or other delicious treats arranged perfectly on a plate. Now, they will be restricted to packaged goods that can be protected from exposure.

Kimpton Canary King Suite welcome amenity
Welcome amenity at the Kimpton Canary in Santa Barbara, California

Eliminate Mini-Bars

Most people avoid hotel mini-bars due to high prices and limited selection. But, when you’re thirsty or hungry in-between meals, the mini-bar starts to look pretty tempting. However, it is not practical for the cleaning staff to wipe down the fridge and everything inside it every time a guest checks out.

For that reason, Kimpton hotels and resorts have started emptying out their mini-bar supplies and donating them to local charities and healthcare workers. The Kimpton Marlow in the Boston area recently shared a post on Instagram about their efforts to repurpose these treats.

$10 Raid the Bar Credit

With mini-bars eliminated from guest rooms, what will you use the $10 Raid The Bar credit for? The good thing is that, even before coronavirus, you could use your $10 RTB credit at the bar or in the restaurant. I’ve even had occasions where the front desk knocked $10 off my bill, for charges like valet parking, even if I didn’t take anything from the mini-bar.

I will miss bringing home small bottles of alcohol for our collection. And it was always neat to try local snacks from artisan shops. Supporting small businesses in the local area is a great way to spend your vacation budget.

Kimpton Hotel Solamar decisions
Trying to decide what I was from the Kimpton Hotel Solamar mini-bar

Borrowing lobby bicycles

I don’t get to use the Kimpton lobby bicycles on most trips because the kids are usually with us and their feet don’t reach the pedals. But, I know a lot of my friends really love the Kimpton bicycles because they’re a great way to explore the city. You can walk up to the lobby, grab a bike, and take off for the day. There’s no charge and as long as there’s a bike available, you’re good to go. Just bring it back and put it where you found it when you return.

Coronavirus is making simple acts like this harder and harder. If hotel guests take the bikes, then someone will need to ensure that they’ve been properly cleaned in between uses. This can certainly happen, but it adds to the daily tasks of things to watch out for, and I’m not sure each hotel property will add one more thing to their to-do list.

Kimpton Shorebreak complimentary bikes and surfboards
Borrow a bike or surfboard at Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach, California

The Bald Thoughts

Change is normal. Even without coronavirus, many business models have to change with the times. However, the virus is causing every business to re-evaluate how they do business and what is & isn’t acceptable in the new environment that we face.

Hopefully, we will find a cure, vaccine, or effective treatment very soon. In the meantime, hotels like Kimpton will have to change the guest experience considerably. And, the big question is whether or not some of these changes are temporary or permanent.

People like me have a lot of love for Kimpton thanks to the way they treat us and make us feel welcome. Some other hotel brands do the same for their loyal guests. Although the focus of this article has been Kimpton, every hotel brand will be re-evaluating their routines that will affect its guests.

Have you noticed any changes with the hotels you’ve visited recently? What changes do you think will happen at your favorite hotels? What would you miss the most? Let us know in the comments below.

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