Marriott in Uniondale reopens after pandemic closure with changes in place

UNIONDALE, Long Island (WABC) -- Eyewitness News got an exclusive tour Tuesday of the Marriott in Uniondale, which just reopened after being closed since April due to the coronavirus.

The hotel features plexiglass barriers at the check-in counters, various hand sanitizing stations and signs reminding hotel guests about social distancing. Guests are required to wear masks in any communal areas of the hotel.

"We are cleaning the lobby spaces extra carefully. We have hospital-grade disinfectants that we utilize to clean the surfaces," said Mark Kulekci, the hotel's general manager.

High-touch items, like menus, placard signs and extra pillows, have been removed from the guest rooms. Glass cups have been replaced with single-use plastic cups and alcohol sanitizing pads are provided to clean television remote controls.

Kulekci said the hotel is also encouraging contactless check-in and check-out. Guests with the Marriott app can check-in and open the door to their room using their phones.

For guests who choose to use the room door card, a box has been placed outside the elevators for people to drop them off when they check-out, so they don't have to stop at the front desk.

"When a guest checks out, we do a deep clean of the room and we do not sell that room again for a minimum of 72 hours," said Ernie Catanzaro with Blue Sky Hospitality Solutions, the hotel's management company.

Kulekci said temperature checks are performed on employees every day. Hotel guests are not required to have their temperatures taken.

The Marriott closed April 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During that time, hotel management conducted $1.5 million in improvements to the hotel, including installing the largest living wall in the tri-state. The wall, which is located in the hotel's lobby, features 2,350 tropical plants.

The hotel reopened Monday with only 21 of its 615 rooms booked.

Kulekci said the hotel is expecting guests from some large business accounts, including airlines, to begin resuming their stays soon.

"We are expecting a lot of guests coming back to the hotel pretty soon," he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on the hotel industry as well with thousands of hotel properties facing foreclosure, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA).

"Right now, many hotels are struggling to service their debt and keep their lights on," said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers on Tuesday.

Rogers is urging the federal government to help the hotel industry.

"Without action to shore up commercial debt, especially CMBS (Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities) loans, the hotel industry will experience mass foreclosures and permanent job losses," he said.

Gus Montesantos, general manager of the Hilton Long Island, said revenue is down even though the hotel has remained open throughout the pandemic.

"We usually would be sold out on weekends with bridal parties," he said. "To now look at a 10, 20 percent occupancy at probably half the rate - it's just making its toll," he said.

A survey commissioned by AHLA released Tuesday found that 68 percent of people reported they are likely to stay in a hotel this year.

Catanzaro said people should feel comfortable staying at hotels.

"We thought of just about everything," he said.

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