As pandemic restrictions loosen, more families book hotel staycations for spring break
For the second year in a row, families are getting creative for spring break
For the second year in a row, Manitobans are experiencing a spring break during a global pandemic, which means getting creative with how to spend time with family.
Many are opting for staycations — trips within the province, or in some cases, trips just down the street.
"We haven't seen these kind of occupancies since last summer ... which is really nice to see," said Liz Venderbos, director of sales for the Clarion Hotel in Winnipeg.
"You know, people are eager to get out and with the weather being nicer, and know that people are getting some vaccines."
Earlier this month, public health orders changed, allowing for pools in hotel to be open to 10 people at a time. The order also requires people to wear masks in the pool area, except for when in the water.
This change prompted a boost in families reserving staycations at he Days Inn in Steinbach, which has a pool with a waterslide.
"We're hoping for a 50 to 75 per cent occupancy would be very, very good for us. But back in the day, it would have been 100 per cent.… We're thankful for what we get these days," said Karina Bueckert, director of the Steinbach Days Inn.
With the restrictions, the hotel has made a few changes with how people can access the hotel pool.
"Our guests can sign in their family for a certain hour," said Bueckert. "It's just the way of ensuring that everybody has a fair chance of being able to use the pool without having to sit and wait for so long."
For people still a bit unsure of returning to hotels, Bueckert emphasized that a big component of the hotel industry is cleaning, meaning they have a deeper understanding of what's needed to keep people safe.
"We've always actually been known as one of the cleanest hotels in Canada as it is.... We've taken many precautions, extra precautions in the last year or so," said Bueckert.
"We have electrostatic sprayers that we use regularly. And so we do this throughout, like, every hour. We make sure to clean everything and sanitize everything as the next group comes in."
WATCH | Winnipegers opting for staycations
At the Clarion Hotel, the pool is currently closed for renovations, but Venderbos says their in-house spa and having Polo Park Mall being nearby are big draws for people. She says most people they see coming through the hotel are from Winnipeg.
"Our clients are mostly from Manitoba, and Winnipeg and surrounding areas, mostly just for a staycation ... to get out of the house and see other people," said Venderbos.
Despite the uptick in reservations for spring break, Bueckert says that confidence in the industry isn't back to normal.
"I think that there is still quite the hesitancy to get out ... our industry has been hit so bad in the last year that we really need to re-convince people that it is safe to come out," said Bueckert.
She says the hospitality industry has been particularly hard hit during the pandemic.
"We did have to lay off the majority of our staff and that was difficult for us.… We were able to bring back most of our staff at this point already, and so we're very thankful for that."
With files from Pat Kaniuga and Marcy Markusa