Hotels remain a safe place to stay during COVID-19
Accommodations in Canada are going above and beyond recommended hygiene and sanitation standards to ensure staff and guests are protected from the virus.
Heading down the forested driveway of the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C., my car was met by a friendly Welcome Ambassador. He inquired about my health and travel history before checking my government-issued ID to verify my primary residence.
After I passed the hotel’s new screening protocol, I parked and walked to the lobby. Before entering I stopped to sanitize my hands at an outdoor station and mask up (masks were also provided, but I brought my own). Inside, staff wore face coverings and there were more opportunities to slather my hands with alcohol gel. The chance of catching the dreaded virus seemed extremely remote.
“Our Covid-19 plan was put together to ensure the safety of our guests and team members, but also to provide an added level of comfort and assurance,” says Charles McDiarmid, managing director of the Wickaninnish Inn. “Our plan is also a living document that is constantly reviewed, updated and evolving as new science and facts emerge.”
The Wick is not alone in putting a Covid-19 response plan in place. Hotels, inns, lodges and boutique properties across the country have embraced health and safety recommendations to protect guests and staff during the pandemic (for details on a specific hotel’s Covid-19 policies, just visit the website — there’s usually a prominent link on the landing page).
When it comes to booking your Canadian vacation with The True North Collection, know that both companies only work with accommodations that meet or exceed industry guidelines around sanitation. Here’s what you can expect to put your mind at ease between check in and check out.
At many hotels including the Wickaninnish Inn, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and Vintage Hotels in Ontario, staff receive Covid-19 awareness and education training, as well as training on cleaning and sanitation protocols, physical distancing measures, and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). This means they know the virus’s signs and symptoms, and how best to prevent its spread and keep guests safe.
Get used to answering questions about your general health and travel history.
At the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, for example, you’ll be met by a greeter who covers off these questions and takes your temperature with a contactless thermometer, says Deneen Perrin, director of public relations for the hotel.
“The screening is intended to keep both guests and employees safe,” she says.
The new face of public spaces
You’ll see plexiglass partitions at the front desk, floor markers and arrows that promote physical distancing and direct the flow of traffic in the lobby and other public areas, and more room between tables inside hotel restaurants. Signs next to elevators recommend riding alone or in your bubble group, and there are hand sanitizer stations outside their sliding doors to make pushing the button less daunting.
“Every public space is practicing social distancing,” confirms Caitlyn Murphy, marketing manager for Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, which includes Emerald Lake Lodge, Deer Lodge and Buffalo Mountain Lodge in the Canadian Rockies.
Even the large hot tub at Emerald Lake Lodge has an occupant limit (five) and has X’s marked around its perimeter suggesting where guests soak in order to maintain appropriate physical distance.
Masks are commonplace among staff, as most hotels mandate their employees wear them to protect guests and each other. Depending on city bylaws and hotel policy, quite a few properties also ask that guests wear a face covering inside public spaces such as the lobby, restaurants, spa and elevators. Some, such as Fairmont, provide masks in case you forget.
“Upon request we have little stay safe kits that have a face mask, hand sanitizer and a few other items such as wipes,” says Perrin. “When people arrive they think, ‘Okay, this is one less worry for me.’”
You’ll receive a disinfected key or single-use key card before going to your completely sanitized guest room. Not only can you expect clean bedding and linens, and wiped-down hard surfaces and high touchpoint spots (light switches, door handles, the TV remote), some properties, including the Wickaninnish Inn and Fairmont, let rooms ‘rest’ for a day or two between guests. Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts even uses an electrostatic sprayer to spritz disinfectant over the entire room, including soft surfaces like the couch in front of the fireplace.
Hotels are happy to deliver amenities to rooms on request, such as individual shampoo bottles and packaged soaps, and will place them outside your door. At Vintage Hotels in Ontario, which includes the Prince of Wales Hotel and Queen’s Landing Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, expect ‘contactless delivery’ for room service as well.
Nature at your doorstep
The best part of travelling in Canada is the wide open spaces across the country. During your visit, whenever you leave the property you’ll be just steps from nature, whether it’s Ottawa’s pathway system along the Ottawa River, hiking trails that lead into the national parks of the Canadian Rockies, or the expansive beaches and rainforests of Vancouver Island.
Leave without saying goodbye
Hotels are encouraging contactless check out by e-mail, text message or phone. Just leave the keys in the room or lobby check-out box, and go.