Highlands short-term rentals and lodging facilities approved to reopen

Highlands accommodations and short-term rentals can reopen as of 5 p.m. on May 8 after the Town Board approved a change to the supplemental proclamation at a special meeting held via Zoom today at 3 p.m.

There are two stipulations, all accommodations that plan to reopen must register with the Town and secondly, they must operate pursuant to the guidelines put forth by the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, and the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals and Vacation Rental Management Association. (Guidelines listed below).

This includes all operators of short-term rentals, such as vacation cabins, home rentals, and rentals thru Air-BNB, VRBO, Homeaway, etc.

However, Town leadership strongly advise all citizens and visitors to continue to wear masks or face coverings, and practice proper social distancing inside buildings, businesses, and public places.

As of 5 p.m. on May 8, the 14-day self-quarantine is no longer mandatory for visitors.

This Proclamation has no effect on the Governor’s Executive Orders, which remain in place.

Guidelines from the VRHP and VRMA can be found HERE.

Accommodation Guidelines from Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center:


  • Only 1 check-in / check-out at a time.
  • Station will be shielded by plexiglass or guest will be served outside the lobby.
  • Furniture at the front desk will be removed to prevent guests from gathering and remaining in the area.
  • Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers will be available for staff and guests.
  • All front desk staff will visibly use hand sanitizer as soon as a new guest walks up to the front/concierge desk for check-in and check-out procedures.
  • Welcome greetings will be a nod or bow of the head. Staff will not shake hands with guests.
  • Postponement of valet service, as well as turndown service.
  • Guests will be offered bell service and will be performed with gloves.
  • Guests will be greeted at the car when possible, but staff will not open the car door.
  • For checks in/out of their room, guest will place their room key in a designated container.
  • Room keys will be properly sanitized prior to use by another guest.
  • Departure gift bags will be prepared with gloves and contain only sanitized items.

Per accommodation business – Guest and staff temperatures will be taken with no touch thermometers. Anyone displaying a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more will be denied access.

Point of Sale

  • No-touch check-in.
  • No signing a registration card and/or credit card folio.
  • Guests will be asked to show picture ID and credit card for proper verification.
  • Credit card swipe will serve as proof of acknowledgement.
  • Credit card swipe and registration desk will be sanitized after each guest.
  • No cash payments.
  • Paperless check in and checkout.
  • Registration will be emailed to guest.
  • Guest will correct/accept registration and send back via email.
  • Final bills will be emailed the morning of departure to be viewed by guest prior to check out.
  • Guests will not be required to sign their final bill.
  • Property and room orientation will be conducted with social distancing.
  • Only guests will open their room. Staff will not handle guest keys.
  • Guests will not be asked to sign checks.
  • Receipts will be emailed, not printed.

Phase 1

Guest Services

  • Weekly calendar of events and compendium emailed rather than printed.
  • Self-serve coffee will be behind the host point to control sanitation.
  • Shuttle services will be suspended.
  • Game rooms closed temporarily.
  • Pools will be opened with limited service.
  • TV remotes will be sanitized after each service.
  • All magazines and literature will be removed from guest rooms.
  • Traditional coffee mugs and glasses in the room will be replaced with individually wrapped single use mugs and cups.
  • Wine glasses have been removed from the room but are available by request at our frontdesk.
  • Wine glasses will be provided by staff using single use gloves after they have been run through sanitation dishwasher.

Public Spaces

  • Touchless hand sanitizer available in all public spaces.
  • All magazines/books/ literature are removed.
  • Twice daily sanitization of all lobby, elevator, common areas, and office spaces.
  • Sanitization includes but is not limited to all horizontal spaces, telephones, seating areas, doors, desks, etc.
  • Public restrooms will be closed.
  • Fans in elevators will be set to the highest setting.
  • Social distancing for the pets will be implemented including temporary closure of Dog Park.
  • Guest service areas deemed not required will be closed with notification signage.

Food and Beverage

  • Coffee service will utilize K-Cups, individual packaged sweeteners, creamers and disposable coffee cups/lids. Second cups of coffee will use clean disposable cups.
  • Continental breakfast will consist of only items that are individually packaged including beverages.
  • Temporarily replaced plates and utensils with single use items, for disposal after each use. Utensils and napkins are wrapped for protection.
  • Each guest, as required by the Macon County Health Department, will take food to their room to consume. No food will be consumed in public spaces.
  • All staff handling food will use single use gloves, without exception, in addition to the required hand washing required by the local Health Department.
  • In-room dining and pantry services suspended.
  • Kitchen areas are for employees only due to sanitization regulations. Guest requesting items will be served utilizing one-use gloves.
  • Microwave and toaster area will be cleaned and sanitized twice a day and guests will be asked to sanitize the area after each use.


  • All rooms are being deep cleaned in preparation for opening.
  • All guest rooms will sit vacant for up to 48 hours after check-out.
  • After each room has been occupied, an Ozone or Ionizer machine will be placed in the room for a minimum of 45 minutes when equipment is available at business. (Ozone has been proven to kill bacteria and viruses including Corona.)
  • After the Ozone / Ionizer machine has been used in the room, a disinfectant approved by CDC for Covid-19 prevention will be sprayed on all surfaces in the guest room – this will be allowed to dry and not be wiped off.
  • All members of Housekeeping staff will change into their uniform at the hotel prior to working.
  • At the end of each shift, housekeeping staff will leave the uniform worn that day to be washed and cleaned at the hotel.
  • Housekeeping will wear gloves, mask / face shield.
  • Housekeeping will use single use gloves to clean rooms and will use a fresh set of gloves for each guest suite/room.
  • All touch surfaces in the rooms, including the upholstery, will be sanitized prior to each guest arrival.
  • All extra blankets and pillows will be removed from the guest room. These items will be available by request. This it to eliminate contamination.
  • Housekeeping will be changing robes, sheets/terry and removing all bedding to be washed and replaced, including mattress and pillow protectors. The cleaning agents being utilized not only clean all these items but sanitizes during the wash cycle with the aid of hot water.
  • Standard stay over cleans each day is being suspended. Guest will receive clean towels or amenities from the front desk. Towels will be delivered to the room door in a sealed bag by an attendant.
  • Toilet paper in the guest room bathrooms will be placed on the toilet paper holder with the wrapper still on the roll.
    Trash in guest rooms will be collected throughout the day. Trash receptacles will be placed outside each room and guest will be asked to notify the front desk to remove promptly.
  • A changing area and access to a shower will be provided for the use of housekeeping staff to shower and change into a fresh uniform at any time during their work shift.

Internal Operations

  • All staff members will wear single use disposable gloves and masks and/or face shields.
  • Cloth reusable masks will be sanitized following CDC recommendations.
  • No printed collateral and material will be accepted from vendors; such information will be submitted via email.
  • Staff will not sign for deliveries but will ask the delivery service to sign and record.
  • Delivered items will be sanitized and delivered by staff utilizing single use gloves.
  • Guest laundry service will be suspended.
  • Department line up meetings, necessary to daily operation, will be conducted following all safety precautions.
  • Restricted access to buildings with staff manning entry doors.
  • Hand sanitizer available for staff and guest use.
  • Public restrooms will be reserved for staff use only. The restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized twice a day.


(Estimated dates) May 8-14 (Phase 1):

  • OEI Max Capacity: 25 rooms (25% occupancy), hold between each stay, upgrade as much as possible, control shared doors, space out across property.
  • 200 Main Max Capacity: 20 rooms (same restrictions as above).
  • Half-Mile Farm Max Capacity: 10 rooms including cabins (same restrictions as above).
  • Park on Main: 10 rooms.
  • Mitchells Lodge and Cottages: 16 rooms.
  • Inn at Mill Creek: 6 rooms.
  • Highlands Inn Lodge: 14 rooms.
  • Chandler Inn: TBD
  • Main Street Inn: TBD

May 15-21 (still Phase 1):

  • OEI Max Capacity: 40 rooms, hold in between each stay, upgrade as much as possible, control shared doors.
  • 200 Main Max Capacity: 40 rooms (same restrictions as above).
  • Half-Mile Farm Max Capacity: 20 rooms including cabins (same restrictions as above).
  • Park on Main: 13 rooms.
  • Mitchells Lodge and Cottages: 16 rooms.
  • Inn at Mill Creek: 6 rooms.
  • Highlands Inn: 25 rooms.
  • Highlands Inn Lodge: 14
  • Chandler Inn: TBD
  • Main Street Inn: TBD

May 22 – (Phase 2 Projected):

  • OEI Max Capacity: 60 rooms, hold in between each stay when possible, upgrade as much as possible.
  • 200 Main Max Capacity: 60 rooms, no holds after departure.
  • Half-Mile Farm Max Capacity: 25 including cabins, one day hold in between each stay when possible.
  • Park on Main: 16 rooms
  • Mitchells Lodge: 28 rooms.
  • Inn at Mill Creek: 6 rooms.
  • Highlands Inn: 25 rooms.
  • Highlands Inn Lodge: 14 rooms.
  • Chandler Inn: TBD
  • Main Street Inn: TBD

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