Closing the inn for three months was an individual decision made in response to market conditions.
“In the initial months of the pandemic, most travelers were staying home as requested by Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased Stay Home, Stay Healthy order,” said Connie Shannon, owner and manager of Fairhaven Village Inn. “Understandably, there were many cancellations and few reservations; it made sense to temporarily pause operations through Phase 1 of our state’s reopening plan.”
Shannon used the unexpected downtime in productive ways – overseeing the addition of walk-in showers and retrofitting cabinetry to accommodate minifridges in all 22 guest rooms. Carpeting was also replaced with hard surfaces in some areas making it easier to sanitize.
“Now more than ever, travelers need to have the peace of mind of knowing that we’re doing all we can to make their stays comfortable and to help reduce the spread of any virus, including COVID-19,” Shannon said. “I know that we’re on the right track because travelers who have stayed here since we reopened have left very positive reviews on TripAdvisor – reviews that note cleanliness, safety and comfort.”
Enhanced cleaning and personal sanitization products become best practice
The inn has aligned with guidelines from the Whatcom County Health Department and the Washington State Lodging Association – guidelines that have been designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for staff and travelers.
“We care for our guests and for one another,” Shannon said. “We constantly monitor the wellness of our team.”
Surfaces in public areas, such as countertops, railings and doorknobs, are sanitized daily throughout the hotel. Hand sanitizer and masks are readily available for guest use. Hand-washing and physical distancing are stringently practiced and masks are required for all staff and guests.
In guest rooms, additional attention is given to cleaning high-touch items, such as remote controls, bathroom fixtures, handles, nightstands, telephones and light switches. Nonessential items, such as ironing supplies, are now available by request instead of being stored in each guest room. Room cleaning frequency can be adjusted based on guest preferences, and rooms are air freshened between guest stays.
The inn and many of its fellow hotel operators in Whatcom County already had detailed cleaning routines in place, Shannon said. Compliance was more of an adjustment to current best practices and not rewriting their entire cleaning protocols.
When asked what she envisions the remainder of the 2020 travel season will look like, Shannon said that she anticipates most guests at the inn will come from within Washington state to spend time with family and friends and take advantage of Whatcom County’s small towns and outdoor activities.
“I believe road trip travelers are looking for alternatives to large city getaways,” she said. “Fairhaven and Bellingham will remain top travel destinations. Local businesses have been doing a great job of helping customers feel safe when shopping and dining; the ‘village vibe’ of Fairhaven is alive and well!”
Fairhaven Village Inn, itself, is a safe and relaxing space for travelers who need an escape.
“Sitting in a rocking chair watching activities on Bellingham Bay or walking on nearby trails have calming effects on people who stay here,” Shannon said. “We look forward to helping travelers experience that in the weeks and months ahead.”
Reservations and inquiries can be made by calling 360-733-1311 or by visiting the website at fairhavenvillageinn.com.