Leaving the House – Hotel Stays and Safe Travel During COVID-19

I wrote recently about some of the safer at home activities we’ve been doing in the local area to scratch our travel itch during this pandemic that has had a huge impact on us all. With hotels slowly reopening, I had my first overnight stay (two, actually) in four months last weekend in the local Southern California area. I wanted to share my experience on what to expect if you stay in a hotel in the near future, and ways to stay safe if you’re eager to spend a night away from home.

The Newport Marriott Bayview is a quiet hotel on the Irvine/Newport Border with views of the Back Bay. As with all Marriotts, you can do most of the check in process online and also request amenities via your phone to reduce contact. I did need to wait for a physical key, but masks were worn and physical distancing was respected. There was a requested limit of 2 people at a time (outside of same household) in the elevator, though perhaps the stairs are a more independent option and better exercise. 🙂 The room itself was impeccably clean, and very “normal” outside of no cups/utensils/coffee pot (there was still a coffee maker, but no pot). I was able to request shrink wrapped disposable paper cups, and the ice machine/container were available. For stays longer than one day, housekeeping is not happening but you can request new towels or services as needed. The pool was open with social distancing and capacity limits, and all seemed to be respecting boundaries. At the time I stayed, the fitness center and restaurant were not yet open – however, Uber Eats is easy (we’re all pros at takeout and delivery after quarantine anyway!) and it was a very relaxing stay with a friendly staff.

Newport Marriott Bayview is a great property

I spent Saturday morning nearby with a social-distancing paddle out on the Back Bay by Newport Dunes, which is extremely popular right now for camping and family getaways. The beach area itself did get a bit crowded and people were much more lax here than in other areas, but the service from Pirate Coast Paddle was awesome, affordable, and it was a super morning out on the water.

Pirate Coast Paddle is in the Newport Dunes Complex

Sunday evening, I headed down to San Diego to see a friend for the first time since quarantine. The Residence Inn Downtown/Bayfront is a beautiful hotel that shares a building and facilities with Springhill Suites. It has great water views and is in walking distance of many San Diego attractions like Seaport Village and Little Italy. The Residence Inn rooms have a full kitchen with fridge, microwave, and dishwasher. The COVID changes again included no coffee pot, silverware, or cups, but basic cooking utensils and bowls were there. You could ask for anything that you needed. I asked for cups again and was brought freshly wrapped glasses and wrapped paper cups as well. The roof top pool was open with capacity restrictions, and the fitness center was even open with very limited capacity as well. In lieu of the standard breakfast buffet in the morning, the hotel offered a Grab and Go option in paper bags (and coffee) that you could take back to your room and warm up in the microwave. All staff wore masks and gloves and the service was super friendly!

It was a perfect day in San Diego as well, and we loved walking along the water. Once again, most were respectful of social distancing and wore masks when in close proximity. We ate dinner at Sorrento Ristorante, a place we enjoyed last summer – outside seating, servers fully masked, and delicious food and drinks! It was nice to feel “normalcy” and also feel people were making an effort at safety as well . I paddled on Monday by Liberty Station at The SUP Connection and had another great experience out on the water!

All in all, I was super impressed with how businesses have quickly figured out accommodations and made things work during this crazy time. While I know not all are ready to travel yet or feel it’s safe to do so, it was refreshing to know what is out there in our own backyard and see what is being done in the meantime, and great to stay somewhere besides my own house for a change!

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