ARE WE ALL GOING TO FAR WITH Standard Operating Protocols?

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Last week I watched a promotional video made by Kempinski that demonstrates its new SOPs for guests. Just before this I had seen a BBC segment on a restaurant in Amsterdam where the restaurant has been virtually rebuilt with glass booths for individual tables and diners (I could only see 2 chairs apiece), and the waitress was wearing a full-face plexi face-mask. It was so alien and inhuman that I immediately had a response of total rejection because I do NOT want this to be called “the new normal”. I don’t even think it should be the “temporary arrangement”. The word “normal” must not be attached to these actions. Is this marketing gimmickry, government-driven requirements or really demand-driven by clients ? Are we all that scared ? Do we take such measures to deal with the flu each year, which annually kills many, many more people ? I am reading how offices will have to be redesigned, meetings will be limited in size, physical contact will be limited and even the handshake (and ceratily kissing, omg) will be abandoned. The production of plexiglass is going to be the next best investment as it will be ubiquitous.

Do travellers really want to come to a destination and be treated as if they have a dastardly contagious disease (or alternately, we the hosts, are feral) ? This is a very serious question because we believe many of the actions being taken are driven by businesses who have not done their research with real people but rather consulted “experts” on sanitation and hygiene (as if in the past our hotels were “dirty”). It is all about how we want to live and be treated by others of our species.

Temporary arrangements have a bad history of becoming permanent. Rules that are no longer relevant are difficult to get rid of. I am already totally exhausted with having my temperature taken (6 times on a single trip to Mafia from Zanzibar) and washing my hands with cheap hand “sanitisers”. Perhaps we will soon have to wear a sign “Free of the China virus”. Are we being manipulated by the ill-informed ? Are SOPs helping or hurting by keeping the Fear Factor high ? Is it possible to relax and be yourself with so many restrictions and impositions on where you sit, how many people you can be with, how close they can get, never touching or hugging ? We shall be snatching our hands away from an intended hand-shake for ages….and are these measures actually effective ?

At Kinasi we have lots of space in our bar, lounge and dining areas by design because we believe space and privacy are true luxuries, but they are yours by choice. So too our bungalow rooms, which are spread out over four hectares and have huge verandahs and are very airy. We will make provision for the sanitisers and thermometers but we will adhere to the SOPs with discretion and care for your relaxation. Our personnel have all been upskilled for this and are of course taking every precaution theselves, following our protocols at work and applying them at home too. Hotel staff are tested regularly (these are old regulations affecting kitchen and serving staff in Tanzania and we adhere to them strictly). And the “deep cleaning” that is now coming into fashion is being adapted and adopted under Antonella’s supervision during the coming period now that all our staff are back from leave. The only significant addition to our activities in this regard are the types of cleaners being applied, with the emphasis on specific surfaces and frequency rather than standard cleaning. but it will all be carried out unobtrusively and with care to make sure our guests do not feel like “lab rats”.