The Galt House, a Trademark Collection Hotel by Wyndham, in Louisville, Kentucky kicked off an $80 million renovation in early 2019. As the largest hotel in the state, the goal was to capture a sophisticated look “representative of Kentucky life.” Not a single aspect of the hotel, from rooms to public spaces, was left untouched.
The team at Standard Textile had the opportunity to chat with Terry Bechtold, VP of Operations at AJS Hotels, owner and operator of The Galt House. Terry shared how The Galt House and their other portfolio hotels address cleanliness, both pre-COVID and today, as well as how Standard Textile’s AllerEase® Professional mattress encasements have contributed to cleanliness and reduced burdens on their housekeeping staff.
The Galt House chose to source from U.S.-based companies during their renovations and they selected AllerEase® Professional mattress encasements from Standard Textile to protect their brand-new mattresses. “I’m surprised that it isn’t a mandate in hotels to have a cover on their mattresses,” said Terry. “It’s necessary because mattresses are exposed to a lot of things when you have transient guests coming through hotels.”
There were three reasons The Galt House team shared for choosing a complete mattress encasement instead of simply adding a traditional mattress pad. “I hate to use the word ‘insect,’ but people often say there’s one in their room. But at The Galt House, we don’t,” said Terry. “We haven’t actually had a confirmed case of bed bugs since the AllerEase® mattress encasements have been on our beds – which is great. To have 1,310 rooms and zero cases is amazing.”
Second, all sorts of things can happen in a room to shorten the life of the mattress. Terry remarked on how some guests like to eat their in-room dining meal on their bed and with a glass of wine or juice. The next thing you know, the food or liquid spills over and seeps into the mattress. “Well, you can clean the surface,” he commented, “but it’s tough to clean all the way in there and that contributes to the mattress’ deterioration.”
Lastly, human body moisture transfers into a mattress through sheets or thin mattress pads. “When we sleep, our body fluids and our skin go into the sheets and through the sheets. But it won’t go through a mattress cover,” Terry shared.
While hotels change the sheets between guests (or now, every day), mattresses are not changed out at the same pace. The Galt House has a regular cleaning program for mattresses, which involves a deep clean with a disinfectant, but this is a labor-intensive process. Now with AllerEase® mattress encasements, the need for that process is minimized.
When something spills on the bed or other moisture is present, the remnants go away by simply removing the sheets, bedding, and the zip-off top on the encasement. Those potential causes of damage never come into contact with the mattress. With AllerEase®, the mattress cover “will be cleaned and sanitized each time we change those sheets.”
The team at The Galt House developed a 52-page COVID-19 SOP which was digitally distributed to all associates and managers. The SOP requirements not only meet but exceed COVID standards set by industry associations and government organizations. Ensuring cleanliness and safety for guests and staff is critical.
“We’ve even purchased the electrostatic foggers to go through our rooms and our banquet rooms,” Terry shared. “Having this mattress cover is just one more layer of safety in today’s world. It’s about sanitation today and having an environment that people are comfortable and confident that they’re safe.”
The staff also offers a complimentary mask and gloves upon check-in. Stand-up hand sanitization stations are available throughout all common, shared areas.
“If we had not done installed mattress encasements before, with everything that’s happening today—with COVID-19 and the risks of cross-contamination from one guest to the other—you have to have something like AllerEase®.”
Communication regarding your hotel’s efforts to ensure a clean and safe environment is critical. The Galt House is taking two approaches: verbal and digital. When a bellman brings guests’ luggage to their room (on the sanitized bell cart, of course), the bellman takes a socially distant opportunity to point out the sanitized areas and added protection, including the AllerEase® mattress encasements.
On the digital side, since all collateral has been removed from the rooms, there are signs with QR codes that link to a statement by Scott Shoenberger, President & CEO of ASJ Hotels outlining The Galt House’s safety procedures and cleaning protocols.
It’s quite apparent how comprehensive the property’s safety procedures and communication needs to be in order to address guest concerns, shared Terry: “I believe that your guests choose places that have items like mattress encasements in their rooms.”
According to Terry, installation was a breeze since the hotel was going through a renovation at the time. “Every single room in the hotel received brand new mattresses, furniture, everything. I mean, there’s nothing that looks the same in both public spaces and the guest rooms.”
“The teams at the hotel, the operations teams in housekeeping and public stays, worked side by side with the installers. The mattress was actually up on its side, we slid it into place in the encasement, and then put the mattress on top of the bed. It was a really easy function to take care of for the task.”
The job of a housekeeper is tough – and they never know what they may encounter: a child who wets the bed, a guest who got sick, or even a minor scrape or cut leaving blood on the sheets. In the past, any of those instances could have seeped through to the mattress, but now that concern is gone. Even pre-COVID Terry pointed out that one of the greatest concerns of a housekeeper is, “What are they being exposed to?”
Terry shared The Galt House’s mattress cleaning procedures if blood or other bodily fluids got through to the mattress. “We would actually bag up a mattress with a moving bag and take it all the way down to our housekeeping, which is on the lowest floor or the West tower and begin our cleaning process. Then, you have to clean it at least two and three times because the mattresses are so thick. The question is, though, even if you are cleaning it, are you really getting everything out of there?”
Housekeepers now have a yellow bag and a red bag in which to place used AllerEase® mattress encasement tops. Yellow bags get sent to the outside laundry for high temperature washing and the red is for something potentially infectious which will be disposed of appropriately.
In today’s environment, the housekeeper’s focus is entering a room with their mask on, wearing the right protective apparel, wearing gloves, and having CDC-approved cleaning chemicals to clean the room. But, as Terry says,” Now, if they have experienced a spill, it’s about just rolling up the mattress encasement top and bagging it into the right bag. Then, it goes down separately.”
The mattress itself goes through the same cleaning process as the rest of the room.
Terry empathizes, “It can get pretty graphic in regard to what a housekeeper gets exposed to. And now it’s less. So, they’re more pleased there.”
We would like to recognize and thank the entire team at The Galt House for their commitment to ensuring their guests feel safe and comfortable during their stays. Here at Standard Textile, we are proud to be a small part of that tremendous effort with AllerEase®.
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The Galt House Shares Experience with Standard Textile’s AllerEase® Professional
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In this article, Terry Bechtold, VP of Operations at AJS Hotels, owner and operator of The Galt House shared how The Galt House and their other portfolio hotels address cleanliness, both pre-COVID and today, as well as how Standard Textile’s AllerEase® Professional mattress encasements have contributed to cleanliness and reduced burdens on their housekeeping staff.