BY MAUREEN N. MARATITA
and MORGAN LEGEL
The opening of hotels is moving ahead in Guam, but those that have taken the plunge saw clients respond quickly with business.
The Dusit Thani Guam Resort re-opened the Aqua restaurant on May 31, complete with an expansive buffet, with staff serving guests cafeteria style. The restaurant was full of a local clientele.
Teah Donnauro, outlet manager for Aqua, told the Journal the decision to open was made in anticipation of the lift of the emergency executive order in Guam. “As well, Aqua is our most popular restaurant with the local market.,” she said.
Occupancy was lowered. “We have reduced our capacity at this time to allow for a total of 44 tables; at 50% this still allows for 83 guests. Normal occupancy allows us to have over 170 guests in the restaurant at one time,” Donnauro said.
That arrangement required a few more staff, she said. “Also, we developed a plan and staff were well-trained prior to opening.”
While customers obviously take off masks to eat, staff will still have modified contact with guests. “They will have masks and gloves on at all times so guests can relax and dine while feeling safe,” Donnauro said. Prices have remained the same, she said.
Other facilities at the Dusit are also open — the Tasi Grill, Soi, Alfredo’s Steakhouse, Dusit Gourmet, and the lobby lounge Café. Marissa E. Borja, director of marketing and communications for Dusit, said the response has been impressive. “They’ve shown really strong returns — the usual customers.” Rooms remain ready for guests, she said.
While the hotel has been closed, all Lotte Hotel Guam staff have been undergoing training. “Even the room side is going to be operated differently,” Tes Reyes-Burrier, food and beverage director at Lotte said. “There will be limited items in the rooms … and a sanitation sign before they open the door.”
The emphasis on cleanliness is not a huge jump, she said, and the hotel continued with maintenance when it was closed. “We never stopped hygiene or pest control.”
Meanwhile, the Lounge and Deli began June 1 to offer take-out, although clients can also order and then dine in the lobby — which is prepared for social distancing.
Aside from platters and an a la carte menu with a variety of Asian and American dishes, the hotel is also offering Bento boxes, and is taking orders for celebration cakes, breads and pastries.
Clients are eager for the hotel to open again. “We already have a function on June 13 — it’s a graduation dinner,” Reyes-Burrier said. Once the Department of Public Health and Social Services approves Lotte’s arrangements, that event and others lined up can be confirmed.
“The capacity of our [Crystal] Ballroom is 320,” she said, and the graduation will be for 120. “We have a lot of functions … after that,” she told the Journal. “We will serve them; we will make them feel comfortable — that’s the quality of our service.” The staff training emphasis has changed due to COVID-19, she said. “Before, we trained them to be social. Now they have to be six feet apart [from customers]. We can still see them and serve them,” she said.
The hotel furloughed non-essential employees in April and May, but they are now being called back. Reyes-Burrier said the hotel is also operating its staff cafeteria.
Lotte is ramping up for June 15 when room bookings will open and for a Father’s Day/June 21 staycation package. “We’re offering a special rate for the room,” Reyes-Burrier said. Included in that is a steak and lobster lunch or dinner menu, with beer or wine.
Lotte can also take on-line orders and package menus for distribution to Zoom or Messenger parties. Reyes-Burrier said, “I already have a customer.”
The Westin Resort Guam has been open since May 15, according to General Manager Nick Song. Prego restaurant opened May 25. “We’ve been getting steady support from Club members and the local community,” he said, but the response could be better.
Prego has an a la carte menu and other offerings and fully serves clients rather than the stations it also had previously in the restaurant. “Everything is plated. We have a set menu for lunch and dinner at a very reasonable price,” he said.
Westin will also be offering facilities for those who prefer a more secluded, experience. “We have converted a couple of the rooms as private dining rooms,” Song said. The dining rooms can accommodate two to four people, or up to 10 people. They offer an ocean view.
“I think that’s the new normal,” Song said.
While the Taste restaurant is still closed, the Mix Cha Cha Cha Café is open. “We start the day by providing complimentary coffee for frontline workers,” Song said. The Mix’s banana cream pie and banana donuts are popular items at the café, he said, and can be ordered through WhatsApp.
The Hilton Guam Resort & Spa opened Café Cino at its lobby on June 2.
General Manager Hiroki Sugie told the paper that other venues will open in July.
“We’re planning to open the Islander Terrace next month, [but] we don’t know when.” Roy’s Restaurant will also open in July, he said.
The Hilton is looking at all its venues, Sugie said. “We are studying [them]. Maybe outside is preferable for the guests.”
July 1 would also be a target date for Hilton rooms, he said.
According to Madeline Cosico, Hyatt Regency Guam’s director of sales and marketing, dining locations within the hotel’s grounds have not opened yet, including Café Kitchen, Al Dente Ristorante, Breezes, The Lounge, Niji and The Deli.
As of now, The Deli is planned to reopen on June 15, and likely Niji as well. Niji’s sushi bar has been renovated, an upgrade planned before COVID-19.
Cosico said the hotel rooms are not available at this point, as Hyatt is preparing to comply with the new health and safety directives from the government. “Everything is being done in stages,” she