Working in Tourism has never been this unpredictable

I have worked in the hotel and tourism industry for most of my adult life and never have we witnessed such a terrible blow to our industry as we have since the onset of COVID-19.

The Lord Elgin Hotel was built in 1941 during the WWI to address the needs of those coming and going during the war effort.  Prime Minister Mackenzie King recognized a need for a hotel at that time and it became his project.  So much of who we are today from our location, design and construction were directly influenced by our Prime Minister King.  A book written in 2016 to mark our 75th lays all this out in great details.

We have been through a lot of ups and downs over these 79 years, but I do not think we have every seen anything impact us like this.  We are trying to see the silver lining, but it is tough.  Resilience, patience, persiverence, compassion, surrender…these are all words that come to mind.  As a hotel that has been through so much, we will have to accept those things we cannot control – as the serenity prayer puts it so perfectly.

The silver cloud is that with spring’s arrival, we can now go outdoors and walk, cycle, run or just sit and take in our beautiful surroundings.  We live in this beautiful city of Ottawa, in this beautiful province of Ontario, in this amazing country of Canada.  We breath fresh air, we drink clean water…we are so very lucky!!  I am so very lucky!

I miss my team and all those people that work so hard each day at our hotel.  They are waiting patiently to return, as am I.  We are keeping the engine going in the background!!  We will survive!!

A day in the life of our quiet downtown Ottawa hotel

We are a locally owned hotel with 355 rooms located in beautiful downtown Ottawa. Typically buzzing with life and warmth as we sit on Elgin Street, Ottawa’s ceremonial boulevard which also has a ton of restaurants and bars.

You would not recognize downtown Ottawa now. I come in each day along Ottawa’s Queensway, which is typically jammed with cars. My commute from Barrhaven has gone from 45 minutes to just 15 minutes. While I could work from home, I still prefer coming in to the hotel. I have never been a person who enjoyed working from home. Coming in to my empty hotel gives me that sense of reality – that sense of urgency. I love the routine and structure and while there are only 3-4 of us here, I feel more useful being on property. We keep our distance (there is so much space) and I walk around with my squirt bottle and rags, wiping all surfaces! Our housekeeping staff are all off, so we all do our bit to keep our areas clean and sanitized.

I have been listening to numerous webinars and podcasts about how to conduct business during COVID-19. We are all on unchartered territory here and doing our best, but really are taking it one day at a time. There is some comfort in that we are all in this together. There is an initiative in Ottawa to ‘Buy Local‘, to help our local businesses survive this difficult time. Purchase those gift certificates or purchase take-out at our local restaurants that have kept their kitchens going. I know our yoga studio is offering virtual classes for a very reduced fee. Whatever we can do to support our local community is so helpful.

This hotel along with our sister hotels in Ottawa, the Metcalfe Hotel and The Carleton Suite Hotel, are locally owned and we are so hopeful our Ottawa community will #buylocal and think of us when life gets back to normal.  We hope when your friends and family are coming to visit this summer, or when you are planning your wedding, or meeting, you keep us in mind. We are independent hotels with amazing committed and hard-working employees, who are so anxious to get back to work.  We can’t wait to call them and tell them they can return to work. We will need your help to make that happen!!

I wish you all health and sanity in these trying times. Reach out to someone who may be lonely or anxious and give them that virtual hug!! I never knew what Zoom was two weeks ago… now it is becoming a verb. Zoom someone today!!