Guest commentary: Routine testing a must for hotel employees |

Guest commentary: Routine testing a must for hotel employees

Stephane De Baets
Guest commentary

Once again, our country and city are at a crossroads. While the promise of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is in sight, it’s increasingly clear that the coming weeks will be dire — indeed, even devastating, as infection rates continue to increase in Aspen, in Colorado, and across the entire United States. Nevertheless, Aspen’s business community, specifically the hospitality sector, can take critical steps right now to help protect employees, visitors and the ski season.

The key is testing, testing, testing.

As a hotelier and longtime investor in Aspen’s hospitality industry, this issue is personal to me. Since May, Elevated Returns — my asset management firm whose portfolio includes the St. Regis Aspen Resort — has implored the property’s operator, Marriott, to institute regular testing of all employees to better protect workers and guests. I also have publicly urged our business community to set up a private testing system to serve Aspen’s hotels.

My repeated call, however, was dismissed again and again by concerned parties and we are now seeing the result.

I strongly believe we should institute routine daily testing. Regularly testing hotel employees and taking swift action to isolate positive cases is essential if we are to do right by our workers and guests — not to mention, keep ski season open.

Regular rapid antigen testing, which provides results in about 10 minutes, is a low-cost safety measure that has proven to be effective and efficient. According to the National Institutes of Health, “routine testing substantially reduces risk of outbreaks.” The NIH found that testing people even every three days can significantly reduce transmission. Implementing such a regiment at Aspen’s hotels is not only practical, it’s imperative.

To realize this new and higher standard across Aspen’s hotels, owners and operators as well as city officials must come together. To that end, we at Elevated Returns are willing to help drive a privately funded widespread testing initiative to protect Aspen’s hotel employees and guests. Together, we can work to create a “bubble” that will keep Aspenites and visitors safe and keep ski season open.

The time for routine testing is right now.

Stephane De Baets is the founder and president of Elevated Returns, a leading asset management and investment firm whose portfolio includes the Aspen St. Regis Resort.