Hotels hopeful guests will return as Ontario enters Stage 3

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the hotel business across the country with an estimated 250,000 employees laid off.

For the past five months vacancy rates have been at around 90 per cent as people self-isolated and worked from home.

The hotel industry is hoping that as most of the province moves into Stage 3, people will once again consider staying in hotels.

Terry Mundell is with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association and says he’s hopeful that Stage 3 will be a turning point for the industry.

“We are hopeful that as we move into Stage 3 we can try to get our domestic business back, our meeting business back and get people interested in coming back to Toronto,” he said.

At the Marriott Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto an intense cleaning program is under way. Face masks are mandatory and there are hand sanitizer stations in the lobby.

When guests check-in staff are behind plexiglass. Along with social distancing measures in place guests can use a mobile app to check-in and even use their phone as a room key.

The hotel's general manager Jonathan Holliwell says they’re ready to have guests come and stay.

“We are ready with our arms wide open and we are clean, we are engaged and we are excited to see our guests return. When they are ready to travel we are ready to have them," said Holliwell.

Don Cleary is the President of Marriott Hotels of Canada and says the company's 250 hotels across the country have taken a multi-layered approach to cleanliness.

“As we move to Stage 2 and Stage 3 in various jurisdictions certainly we are starting to see occupancies begin to ramp up slowly," said Cleary.

He insists guests should feel safe from the lobby to their hotel room.

“We do a deep cleaning between stays and we have done enhanced cleaning of all touch points whether it's light switches or remotes—all of those things that customers touch," said Cleary.

Cleary says the industry is aware it will be a long time before hotel occupancy rates return to pre-pandemic levels, but he is hopeful if customers see the necessary steps are in place to try and prevent the spread of the virus that eventually they will return.