Tourism and hospitality businesses across Metro Vancouver are participating in the social media movement #WeAreTourism. We are supporting each other by sharing these stories of challenge and hope.
This is one story.
As this premiere summer hotel turns 60, they sure didn’t expect it to be like this.
In 1961, the Bayshore Inn opened with 314 rooms, along with the original and popular Trader Vic’s restaurant. Since then, the hotel was renamed The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, and a guest room tower overlooking the water and Stanley Park was added to bring the guest room count to 499 rooms. More recently, the property completed several revitalization projects including the guest rooms, function rooms, lobby and all their food and beverage outlets.
This hotel property can employ up to 500 associates during a typical peak season summer day, welcoming pre- and post-cruise or Rocky Mountaineer guests, and a variety of events within the 71,000 sq ft of function space.
“Normally through the summer occupancy would be in the high 90%, running outlets 7 days a week, and have up to 5,000 people coming into the property, and it went down to 10 people on property” says hotel General Manager, Paul Cannings, on how the pandemic affected the hotel. “Right at the beginning of the pandemic, the hotel dropped to single digit occupancy and pretty much every outlet we had closed and we were just managing cancellations and rebookings.”
It was a very challenging time for associates of the hotel, and difficult decisions had to be made that were beyond their control. But the hotel is proud of the fact that they were one of a handful of downtown hotels that remained open with special packages for front line workers with the added benefit of being able to offer employment to staff.
Paul continues: “The defining moment to stay open was having a lot of business that was booked with us. It made sense for us to be open to service the community and for those who wanted to stay with us.”
The property has since implemented health and safety protocols such as the 100 sanitizer stations throughout for guests and associates, contactless guest check in and check out services, plexi-glass throughout high contact areas, and reducing touch points in restaurants by offering on-line menus. There was even some special training for associates to learn how to smile with a mask on to ensure that the guest experience wasn’t affected.
The hotel was able to enjoy a robust summer season with double digit occupancies, hosting events such as small weddings and corporate meetings, all within the health guidelines of course. H Tasting Lounge, located off the lobby, and coffee house T&Co are both back to operating 7 days a week; and restaurant, H2 Rotisserie and Bar is open for breakfast on the weekends. The hotel is spacious and a great location for a social-distanced meetup with family or friends, perhaps enjoy an afternoon tea or happy hour. Many locals are booking staycations for special birthdays and anniversaries.
There is an understanding that consumers need that sense of confidence that the businesses they are visiting are employing the proper safety and security to make them feel comfortable. “Life still goes on,” Paul says, “and it might be a little bit different to the way we did it before. We need to show that we are resilient.” Their focus is helping guests feel comfortable with the changes they have made. “We want to make sure our guests have a great experience despite what’s going on in the world.” adds Paul.
The hotel invites locals and visitors from outside the area to see their newly revitalized spaces, especially if it’s been awhile since visiting the property.
“Everything is completely modernized and a different experience, yet still has the charm and beauty of a 60-year history.”
According to Paul, it’s the new business as usual.
ARTICLE BY: Kelly Liberatore, Creative Contessa Marketing
PHOTOS BY: Mark Kinskofer, Vision Event Photography
SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT BY: Joyce Lam, Kumquat Marketing