This blog post is for returning guests who have not been to Riverbend since before the COVID-19 pandemic, to summarize our current operations and what (remaining) changes have occurred over the past year and a half. As many of you might know, operating a “non essential” business during the pandemic was not a walk in the park. Forced closures and occupancy limits were the tip of the ice berg of what small businesses had to contend with and are still going through. Many businesses didn’t make it, but those of us who made changes were able to pull through stronger on the other side. Unfortunately, some businesses didn’t want to go through what we had to and many businesses, including two other local hot springs spas, are still not open as of July 2021. Please know that many of these changes could still change again (or change back) in the future but in order to survive the next pandemic and shutdowns, these changes are remaining for now so that we are poised to weather the next storm much more effectively.
Property Passes can now be and must be reserved in advance, just like Private Soaks and full prepayment is required for all bookings. Throughout the pandemic we operated by reservation only and checked in guests with intercoms but have now settled on a walk up window. We ditched the paper version of our waiver and guest guide and now check in is contactless and there is no need to go up to the window before your appointment unless you have a question or need to make changes or additions. Hourly soakers can go straight to the waiting area ahead of your soak and are all called to the window for final entry at the time of your soak. Detailed instructions are emailed before arrival as well as a text message confirmation and you can text us back with any questions or concerns. Overnight guests have packets handed to them with keys upon a very brief visit to our window to verify a few key details at arrival.
We’ve learned that quality takes precedent over quantity and our guests prefer an environment with less people around them so the Common Pools have a much lower capacity and this has been achieved with our changes to reservations only and a limited number of parties allowed to book each hour.
Our Property Passes and Private Soaks now cost a flat base rate for one or two people (much like a hotel room and most other hot springs). Ultra low occupancies prompted this change and since the vast majority of our guests are couples, it makes sense for the base rate to be for two people. This change is tough on singles so we created a special for singles to get half off their soak if they book last minute to ease into this change.
We no longer accept cash as reservations and prepayment with a credit, debit, or gift card is required to come here. Many businesses went cashless during the pandemic for obvious reasons but we decided to stay this way as it solves numerous problems we had with no shows with declined cards, fraud, security and many others you could imagine. This has sped up our check in process and made the owners and employees very happy to no longer have to balance a cash register.
Guests now have a choice for their desired ambiance. Those that want a quiet and private experience choose the Private Pools where the Whisper Policy remains and can now be enforced via intercom. Those that want to socialize with less restrictions choose the Common Pools where there is no longer a whisper policy. We do still ask guests to be respectful of each other and will intervene if we deem it necessary but this welcomed change has eased past guest/guest and guest/staff tensions and has ultimately given guests a greater choice of how their vacation is spent.
Though many of our amenities that were ordered closed by the State are now back open, two of them have changes that remain. Spa towels for overnight hotel guests are now in the room and we ask guests to reuse them if possible. This saves our environment and keeps costs low for you. RV guests and hourly guests can still rent towels and robes as before. Our coffee bar has not returned but we are working on enhancing the in room coffee for guests that will go beyond what most other hotels offer.
We are thrilled to welcome back our returning guests. Our water is still hot and amazing and our property and views still beautiful and magical. Most guests understand that the pandemic changed things and don’t expect that everything would revert to how it was with a flip of a switch. Those that have been coming for years know we already make frequent changes to our policies and procedures to constantly keep improving for our guests. Thank you for your continued patronage and patience and we can’t wait to soak you all again soon!