Did it! Traveled again. Not the months long adventure I had planned back in January. Just a 5 day road trip in British Columbia & Alberta (Canada). My first time in a hotel since February. Baby steps! Bit nervous. What would I find? Would I feel safe? What protocols would be in place?
I stayed in four different hotels. Here is what I discovered.
First stop was Sparkling Hill in Vernon BC. It is the creation of Mr. Gernot Langes-Swarovski, patriarch of the Swarovski Crystal family. He envisioned a European style health and wellness experience. Crystals are everywhere. There are more than 3.5 million. The views over mountains and lakes are incredible. The spa has lots of treatment rooms, resting areas (with views) and a series of pools. It was spotless and people were social distancing. Tables in the restaurant had lots of space between guests. There was hand sanitizer in the lobby, near all elevators and at the entrance to the restaurant, the spa and the shop.
The check-in staff stood behind plexiglass. As they did in the next 3 hotels. Elevators were for one family only. As they were in other hotels. Rooms were super clean. As they were everywhere else too. Saunas & steam rooms were all closed. But there were very few masks (only housekeeping wore them).
In fact, except at The Post (next two nights) we didn’t see masks in any hotels, restaurants or shops.
The Post is a wonderful classic luxury hotel in Lake Louise, Alberta. Very Swiss in feel. The restaurant is amazing and the wine cellar phenomenal. Best in Western Canada for sure, in the running for best in the country. The Post has hand sanitizer everywhere including in a Covid Kit in your room. They took your temperature before checking in; every staff member I saw wore a mask. The restaurant is only open to hotel guests (we asked about bringing friends and were told they are not making any exceptions), tables are far apart and you must take the meal plan. So worth it… the food was excellent and the service top notch. We enjoyed two nights in a suite with a wood burning fireplace and two bathrooms. (My new fantasy is his and her bathrooms).
I felt their protocols were the most comprehensive of all the places we tried.
Our third hotel was The Cloudside in Nelson BC. Very tiny, family run, very good value. An old house converted to 8 rooms. Our room was huge with sitting area, glassed in veranda and coffee/tea station. We only interacted with one person upon check in. Could have easily not spoken to anyone else except I wanted to meet the owners the next day. Everyone in the travel business is suffering from Covid but for tiny places like this it is particularly difficult. I was delighted to hear booking have been picking up. The husband and wife owners were scrubbing rooms as people checked out, keys were sanitized, there was hand sanitizer on the counter and before you entered the building. They no longer had brochures etc. on display for people to take though they were available if you asked. A plasticized and cleaned between each guest list of local restaurants was in the room.
Our final night was spent at The Watermark in Osoyoos. It was the biggest and most kid friendly hotel. Rooms have kitchens and washer/dryers. They are right on the beach. I didn’t realize just how many challenges kids would make for a hotel during Covid. They had hand sanitizer entering the main lobby and asked that only one person from each party come in. All parking is do-it-yourself underground; there was no sanitizer by the elevators or garage doors. I would have been more comfortable if they had it in these locations. Our room overlooked the pool. Though every group had to sign a form acknowledging protocols for social distancing we could see it was impossible to enforce here. Kids were having the best time. As they should. They were all rushing down the slide and jumping on top of each other. I would not go near it with the proverbial 10 foot pole. Luckily the rooms and all public spaces were very clean and it was easy to avoid others. There is no housekeeping services to the rooms while guests are checked in. They will deliver extra towels and linens if you’d like. Each room comes with its own pool towels rather than having stacks near the pool as was typical pre-Covid.
Seems mask are a suggestion not a rule in both BC and Alberta. That may change if case numbers start to rise. I definitely was happier when there were lots of masks around. For me, this may become a prerequisite for future travel. Still, I felt safe everywhere we stayed. I had no issues in any of the rooms we slept in, nor did I feel a need to extra clean them myself with the wipes I had brought. When we encountered other guests everyone was polite; we both moved to stay as far from each other as was sensible with apologetic smiles. Hotels were trying hard to create both pleasant and safe experiences in a crazy new world.
It was great to travel again. A comradery with both other guests and staff lent a wonderful we-are- all-in-this-together-trying-to-figure-it-out feel to my little adventure. I may get a bit more daring in the coming weeks. How about you? Have you stayed in a hotel recently? Would you stay in a hotel?