The Future of Accommodation
Hotels are at the heart of city centres across the UK, so when lockdown was put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, accommodation providers were hit hard, with many properties totally closing their doors to their guests for the first time in their history. During the lockdown period, accommodation providers across Leeds worked hard to ensure procedures and policies were in place ready for when they could reopen their doors and start welcoming back their guests. As with many things in this world at the moment, guests may notice some slight differences next time they stay in a hotel, but properties across the city focused their energy on making sure the quality of the experience, warm welcome and hospitality provided wasn’t lost.
Throughout the lockdown period, a number of hotels across the city offered accommodation to those in need during the pandemic, including the Ibis Styles Leeds City Centre Arena Hotel which took the decision to keep its 134 bedrooms open to provide well deserved support to key workers in Leeds.
Ibis Styles is a boutique, budget hotel which opened in 2017 and offers double, twin, family and king size rooms. Featuring its unique Yorkshire feel, with a striking ‘ee by gum’ embossed entrance and individually printed carpets in each room that depict an aerial view pattern of the backstreets of Leeds, the comfortable feel of the hotel provided a home from home for key workers, giving them a place to unwind and recuperate after working on the front line.
As well as owning the hotel and restaurant complex, Edward Ziff, Chairman and Chief Executive Leeds-based property investor and car parking operator, Town Centre Securities PLC (TCS), also sits on the board of the NHS Trust and made the decision to keep the hotel open at the beginning of April. Since then, they have welcomed over 1,300 key workers to the hotel, with many NHS ambulance crews, doctors and nurses using the hotel’s facilities for long stays and transient visits, thanks to its close proximity to Leeds General Infirmary.
Along with providing a comfortable night’s sleep for its key worker guests, the hotel tried to enhance the guest experience by providing an external laundry service, free parking at the adjacent CitiPark car park and pub-style dining options from the hotel’s adjoining Arnold’s Restaurant, Bar and Kitchen.
As lockdown measures continue to ease and the Government provides a date for the conferencing industry to start its engines again, Ibis Styles is standing firm with its safety procedures to ensure the hotel is following government guidelines and is continuing to provide safe, hygienic accommodation to all of its guests and a secure workplace for its staff.
On arrival, guests are offered a kit which includes a face mask, hand sanitizer and wipes and are encouraged to discover and enjoy the city of Leeds during the duration of their stay to further support local businesses. There is a maximum of 15 rooms being used at one time and strict no sharing and no twin bedroom policies remain in place. An increased cleaning regime has also been implemented, with a 72-hour gap left between room uses to limit the risk of contamination. The measures that have been put in place at the hotel are new to both guests and staff, with receptionists having to get used to working behind a glass screen, but they have been put in place to instil the safety of everyone in the hotel and to make them feel comfortable and assured.
Peter Dodd, from Ibis Styles Leeds commented: “None of us had experienced lockdown before, so we really went into it blind and not knowing what to expect, but the uncertainty our entire industry faced really made us pull together. At Ibis Styles, we reviewed 10 years’ worth of policy in 10 weeks to ensure that we stayed on top of the government guidelines, and that we were working in conjunction with other venues in Leeds so that the measures we were putting in place were safe and consistent.
“We are thrilled to be part of a network in Leeds that has supported key workers during lockdown, but to safeguard the recovery of accommodation providers across the city it is essential that we begin welcoming conferences, events and weddings back through our doors. Ibis Styles is working incredibly hard to offer safe meeting spaces, where delegates can make use of sanitised on-site facilities and reliable Wi-Fii in the heart of our inspiring city centre.”
Claire Heap, Head of Conference Leeds said: “It has been humbling to see how accommodation providers in Leeds have pulled together to support each other in a time of real uncertainty and implemented policies and procedures to ensure the safety and experience of their guests remains at the forefront of their offering. To see so many of them support key workers, who have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic has been a wonderful way for them to give back to their communities. Now, the conference industry has an official start date, we are looking forward to welcoming people back to our city and encouraging organisers to create a safe and exciting experience for delegates to enjoy in the city of Leeds.”