No-one was more delighted to see Clayton Whites Hotel re-open for business on Monday than Reservations Manager Joanne Saunders.
Joanne was one of a handful of staff who continued to work in the hotel during the lockdown, handling administration and providing security in an empty building which is usually alive with activity.
As someone who loves the hospitality industry, she missed the buzz of guests arriving and departing and the weddings and celebrations.
On Monday, the coffee dock, bar and restaurant re-opened and the hotel re-commenced taking room bookings while the leisure facilities, including the gym, swimming pool and spa are due to re-open on Wednesday.
The sauna, jacuzzi and steam room in the Tranquillity Spa will be off limits to visitors.
'We are taking bookings for breakfast and dinner and for the leisure centre so that we can ensure social distancing', said Joanne.
People are welcome to walk into the hotel for coffee and food but if the premises has reached its maximum permitted number, based on square footage, they may be asked to wait in the lobby or return a short time later, she said.
New cleaning and hygiene systems have been put in place and people staying in the hotel will now find a seal on the bedroom door that they break on entering. After guests depart, all rooms will be 'fogged' with a special device that deals with viruses and other air and surface contaminants, and is used in 'Clean Room Technology' in the pharmaceutical industry and some hospitals. Guests will know that their rooms have been treated by the unbroken seal on the door.
The Riverbank House Hotel re-opened for business on Monday and is operating the one-metre social distancing rule which is permitted in a controlled environment where customers are met at the door by a member of staff and taken to a table with sittings lasting for an hour and forty-five minutes.
The hotel is losing seats in the main bar/restaurant but is gaining increased capacity by placing tables and chairs outdoors and also in the original bar in the hotel, to the right of the entrance.
'We've closed off the car park and are putting out tables and chairs to create an alfresco dining area with fairy lights, bunting and outdoor heaters. It increases our capacity significantly', said General Manager, Colm Campbell.
Chefs in the kitchen will be wearing visors and bar and waiting staff will 'in all probability' be wearing protective coverings, as they deal with diners, although the guidelines are still being clarified.
The Riverbank is taking bookings but people can also arrive without a booking and will be catered for immediately if there is space available. A waiting area has been set aside for those who may have to wait a short while for a table.
Guest accommodation also re-opened on Monday but with the original easing of lockdown for hotels having been set at July 20, many of the bookings received so far are for after that date.
'We're pleased to be back up and running and we look forward to welcoming customers old and new', said Colm.