Exceptional hotel hygiene awaits tourists in Spain

(CNN) – It’s breakfast time, which means I have to check my temperature, put on a face mask, dip my hands in an alcoholic disinfectant, and put on a pair of plastic gloves.

That’s all before I drink my coffee.

Welcome to Rio Concordia – part of a hotel chain based on a Spanish holiday in Mallorca.

It was specifically chosen to welcome some of the nearly 11,000 German visitors who set out here as part of a pilot program to test coronavirus precautions and reopen Spain’s tourism economy.

Riu Concordia in Mallorca is testing new coronavirus measures as part of a pilot program to help restart tourism.

Attica Shubert

RIU Hotels has invested in a number of new protocols.

In our lobby, a thermal camera examines guests as they enter through a sliding door: Let it cool and you’ll get a green light to enter.

But if your temperature gets too high, a discreet red warning comes in at the front desk.

“The world will see us as an example. A positive example,” hotel manager Sergio Navarro told CNN.

“We feel very brave to show the world our product. And people are investing fantastically so far, guests are responding so well.”

Still, when the alarm goes off in the middle of my coffee, I briefly wonder if the thermal camera caught someone sneaking in with a fever. Just a fire alarm exam, as it turned out.

Hyper hygiene

Pictures of Attica Shubert's stay at the newly opened Hotel Riu Concordia in Mallorca

CNN correspondent Attica Shubert sits down for breakfast wearing a face mask and plastic gloves.

The staff is relentlessly cheerful. When I tell the waiter to have breakfast alone, he congratulates me on choosing the “safest option”.

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My dish is securely sealed and there are signs all around reminding me to stay two meters away from the other guests.

Navigating the breakfast buffet is tiring though. I have to follow the red arrows on the floor so they don’t collide with others.

Predictably, I take the wrong path in an attempt to get fresh fruit.

The smiling participant kindly leads me to the tempting croissants and pastries that I only narrowly escaped in the first round, but only after they gave me another cleavage of gel-disinfectant.

Pictures of Attica Shubert's stay at the newly opened Hotel Riu Concordia in Mallorca

“The world will see us as an example. A positive example,” hotel manager Sergio Navarro told CNN.

All the guests around me are Germans. The hotel was booked by tour operator TUI, the number one world tour.

“Destination Experience Representatives” with turquoise T-shirts and a smiling TUI logo around the lobby and pool as an added assurance for guests.

Precautions and extra care are understandable – tourism fluttered during the pandemic and there is a lot to prove for tour operators and hotels.

“Our first flights from Germany to Mallorca sold out within 36 hours and our guests enjoyed a warm welcome,” TUI said in a statement to CNN.

“We are very pleased to be the first operators to arrive again on holiday in Mallorca.”

Coming out of the breakfast area, I run into rags of less than two run-down cleaning ladies who are furiously disinfecting the floors.

One of them continues to polish the borrowed palms in the lobby with alcohol spray.

All this hyper hygiene, however, did not put a damper on the holiday vibes.

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A group of smiling young men head to the beach, tugging on pink-and-yellow inflatable beds next to the disinfection stations in the lobby.

In fact, the biggest hurdle to entertainment parties seems to be the huge number of media teams desperate to tell the good news, including CNN. A German media expert traveling alongside some tourist members has documented every step of their vacation.

“It’s a little complicated”

Pictures of Attica Shubert's stay at the newly opened Hotel Riu Concordia in Mallorca

For breakfast, dinners must follow red arrows to avoid bumping into others, and cutlery is securely sealed.

“It’s a little complicated how it all works,” admits one tourist, Rene Fuessem, as he tries to remember how many times he inspected the temperature.

That did not diminish his enthusiasm for Mallorca.

While swimming by the hotel’s pool, Fuessem says he especially likes the friendly staff and buffet service. All the guaranteed space makes it more comfortable.

“For example, the beach,” he says. “Before the beaches were full. The shops were full. Now? No one has.”

Nice place to throw out beach towels.

Pictures of Attica Shubert's stay at the newly opened Hotel Riu Concordia in Mallorca

The hotel is full of sanitary cleaning stations, including the one in the lift.

But there is also something sad when cafes and clubs boarded, and chairs with terraces were leaning against them.

The record that would otherwise play with the music is eerily quiet.

Over the shimmering blue of our hotel pool we can see another indoor hotel with brown mud gathering inside its emptied pool.

On the promenade, one owner of a beachwear store discards miniature sand dunes that have gathered at the store’s door during the lock.

He doesn’t expect to sell anything, he says. “I’m bored sitting at home.”

No one knows how much the economy can recover by reopening the island for tourism.

But the pilot program is the beginning.

As I watch the yellow-pink sunset along the long curve of Palma Beach, I realize I’m starting to feel a kinship with these brave coronavirus tourism test pilots: It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.

Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this story

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