The hotel's excellent hygiene awaits tourists in Spain

The hotel’s excellent hygiene awaits tourists in Spain

(CNN) – It’s time for breakfast, which means I have to check my temperature, put on my face mask, wash my hands with disinfectant alcohol and wear a pair of plastic gloves.

That’s all before I get coffee.

Welcome to Riu Concordia – part of a hotel chain based on the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca.

It has been specially selected to welcome some of the approximately 11,000 German visitors who are heading here as part of a pilot program to test caution for coronas and to reopen Spain’s tourism economy.

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

Atika Shubert

RIU Hotels has invested in many new protocols.

In our lobby, a thermal camera scans visitors as they walk through sliding doors: Keep it cool and get the green light to enter.

However, if your temperature is too high, the receiver receives a discreet red alert.

“People 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 making a fantastic effort so far, the visitors are responding so well.”

Still, when an alarm goes out in the middle of my coffee, I wonder briefly if the thermal camera has caught someone slipping with a fever. Just a fire alarm test, as it turns out.

Hygiene

Pictures of Atika Shubert's stay at the recently opened Riu Concordia Hotel in Mallorca

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

The staff is constantly happy. When I tell my waiter about my breakfast, he congratulates me on choosing the “safest option.”

My cutlery is securely sealed and there are signs reminding me to stay two meters away from other visitors.

Breakfast is a very important meal – it can either make or break your day. I have to follow the red arrows on the floor to avoid conflict with others.

Predictably, I’m going the wrong way in trying to get fresh fruit.

A smiling employee politely leads me back to the tempting croissants and pastries that I had just escaped a bit in the first round, but only after they gave me another disinfectant gel.

Pictures of Atika Shubert's stay at the recently opened Riu Concordia Hotel in Mallorca

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

All the visitors around me are Germans. The hotel is booked by travel agent TUI, the number one travel company in the world.

“Destination Experience Representatives” with turquoise shirts and the smiling TUI logo around the lobby and pool as more assurance for visitors.

Precautions and extra care are understandable – tourism has plummeted during the pandemic and there is much to prove for travel agents and hotels.

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

“We are delighted to be the first airline to relocate holidaymakers to Mallorca.”

As I leave the breakfast room, I travel over the mops that have no less than two women’s cleaned aprons, disinfecting the floors angrily.

One of them proceeds to polish the palm pots in the lobby with alcohol spray.

All this excessive hygiene did not put the feeling of depreciation on vacation.

A group of young men laughing towards the beach with pink and yellow inflatable beds beyond the disinfection stations in the lobby.

In fact, the biggest hurdle in holiday entertainment seems to be the huge number of media crews who are desperate to tell the good news, including CNN. A German media teammate traveling with some vacationers document every step of their vacation.

“It’s a little complicated”

Pictures of Atika Shubert's stay at the recently opened Riu Concordia Hotel in Mallorca

At breakfast, dinners should be followed by red arrows to avoid hitting others, and cutlery is securely sealed.

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

This did not weaken his enthusiasm for Mallorca.

While enjoying the hotel pool, Fuessem says he especially enjoys the friendly staff and buffet service. The whole guaranteed space makes it more enjoyable.

“The beach for example,” he says. “Before the beaches were full. The shops were full. Now? Nobody is there.”

Plenty of space to unfold the beach towel is nice.

Pictures of Atika Shubert's stay at the recently opened Riu Concordia Hotel in Mallorca

The hotel is full of disinfection stations, including one on the elevator.

But there’s also something sad to see bars and clubs go up, their chairs stacked inside.

A sea walk that would usually be played with music is an eerie quiet.

Opposite the glittering blue of our hotel pool, we can see another indoor hotel with brown mud being collected in its empty pool.

During the walk, a shop owner who sells swimsuits seduces the tiny sand dunes that have accumulated on the store’s doors during locking.

Pictures of Atika Shubert's stay at the recently opened Riu Concordia Hotel in Mallorca

The limited number of guests means that there is enough space in the hotel pool.

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

No one knows how much economy can recover by reopening the islands to tourism.

But the pilot program is a start.

As I watch a yellowish pink sunset along the great curve of Palma Beach, I realize that I am beginning to feel a kind of affinity with these brave piron test pilots: It’s a difficult job, but one has to do it.

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