‘Its a thrill to reopen’: Lord Elgin Hotel prepares to welcome guests on Friday

OTTAWA — Staff at the Lord Elgin Hotel are busy putting the finishing touches on the rooms and public areas of the historic hotel, as they prepare to reopen this Friday.

“It’s a thrill to reopen the doors. Somebody called me the other day and they said, ‘You must be really nervous.’ I’m not nervous, I’m excited; I’ve been waiting for this for 18 months,” says David Smyth, general manager of the Lord Elgin Hotel.

The hotel has been closed since March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Smyth says the decision to stay closed for 18 months was financial.

“The financial analysis that we continued to work on throughout COVID clearly demonstrated that we would lose more money by being open than closing.”

He says the demand for rooms is now up.

“We wouldn’t be opening if we didn’t think the signs were there; we’re very confident at this point,” said Smyth.

Seventy of the hotel’s 355 rooms will be welcoming guests this upcoming weekend, according to Smyth.   He says about a third of the hotel’s 160 employees are coming back at the reopening.

“As the demand increases, we will be ready to accept that increased demand.”

When the doors open this Friday, a visit to the hotel may look a bit different; from Plexiglass at the check-in counter in the lobby, to COVID-19 protocols throughout the hotel.

Gone are the paper directories found in rooms, being replaced by QR codes, says Smyth.

“We intend to adhere to all the protocols that have been so well established, and are effective.”

The Lord Elgin Hotel opened in 1941, and has seen many world dignitaries and famous faces staying there.

“Kings, Queens, prime ministers, many, many delegations, Dalai Lama, Richard Gere, and so on,” says Smyth.

“We’re immediately across from the (National) Arts Centre, we have a great working relationship with them, and so we have many of the entertainers that you see headlined, staying with us.”

Now ready, to welcome even more.

“We’re happy to reopen again and carry on the tradition of the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa.”

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