British Columbia

What to expect if you're booking a hotel in B.C. this summer

Many hotels have reopened in recent weeks after a dismal past few months in the industry that saw 60 per cent of hotels in the province temporarily close due to COVID-19, according to the British Columbia Hotel Association. 

WorkSafeBC guidelines around COVID-19 mean fewer amenities and fewer rooms available

Karim Farahbakhchian is hoping locals will come visit the Loon Lake Lodge and Retreat Centre in Maple Ridge, B.C., this summer after losing most of his bookings for the year. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

If you're thinking about booking a B.C. staycation this summer, your hotel stay may look slightly different from usual.

Many hotels have reopened in recent weeks after a dismal past few months in the industry that saw 60 per cent of hotels in the province temporarily close due to COVID-19, according to the British Columbia Hotel Association. 

Association president Ingrid Jarrett said most accommodations are eager to accept guests, but in smaller numbers due to physical distancing and cleaning requirements laid out by WorkSafeBC.

The Loon Lake Lodge and Retreat Centre in Maple Ridge recently started welcoming guests, but is only operating at about a 20 per cent capacity.

Facility manager Karim Farahbakhchian said they're doing more than twice as much cleaning as before.

"We just want to make sure that we take the proper measures on keeping everything safe," Farahbakhchian said. 

The dining hall at Loon Lake Lodge in Maple Ridge is set up for physical distancing. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The lodge says guests can expect a number of changes:

  • No guest access to ice machines.
  • Earlier check out time at 9 a.m. to accommodate a WorkSafeBC rule that cleaning staff must wait three hours before entering a guest's room after checkout.
  • Fewer guests are allowed with no more than 50 people. 
  • All guests who don't reside in the same household must stay in separate rooms.
  • All dorm rooms are closed.
  • Reservations are eligible for cancellation throughout the summer with a full refund.
  • Tables in the dining hall are limited to six people per table and all tables are two metres apart.
  • Latex gloves and masks are recommended when using the buffet.
  • Masks are optional for guests, mandatory for cleaning staff.

Perhaps the biggest change is the lodge is going to open up bookings for day visits and household overnight stays starting next week through AirBnB. 

In the past it was only open to camps and group bookings. 

"It's something that's brand new to us," Farahbakhchian said. "It's funny how many people live in Maple Ridge and don't even know about this facility." 

Karim Farahbakhchian is hoping guests are drawn to the lake, as many swimming pools in B.C. are closed down to COVID-19. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Rules depend on where you stay 

At the Sea to Sky Hotel in Squamish, guests can expect a similar COVID-19-influenced experience, with some additional rules in place. 

Office manager Jason Donald said after being shut down for the past two and a half months, the hotel is now accepting guests who are essential workers or residents of B.C. 

"We're trying to obviously minimize the risk from high-risk provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, Alberta," Donald said. 

The Sea to Sky Hotel and Conference Centre in Squamish, B.C., has just reopened to the public after months of closure due to COVID-19. (Provided by Sea to Sky Hotel and Conference Centre)

The hotel has additional restrictions including requiring each hotel room to be vacant for up to 72 hours before new guests can check-in. Cleaning staff must wait 24 hours after check-out before entering a guest room. 

The measures mean the hotel will aim to book about a third of its 52 rooms per night.

"We all have families that work here. We would hate to bring [COVID-19] home," Donald said. 

Additional measures and rules include: 

  • No sauna or whirlpool use.
  • Restaurant is closed due to renovations.
  • Only registered guests are allowed inside the hotel.
  • Gym and whirlpool are closed.

Jarrett and the hotel association recommend guests call the hotel they want to stay at ahead of time to assess what their stay may be like. 

"That way you can ask all the questions you're wondering about under this new normal of travel," Jarrett said. 

About the Author

Micki Cowan

Reporter/producer

Micki is a reporter and producer at CBC Vancouver. Her passions are municipal issues and water security.

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