Two downtown Ottawa hotels close during COVID-19 pandemic

OTTAWA — As Ottawa’s tourism and hotel industry struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic, two downtown Ottawa hotels have closed their doors for good.

CTV News Ottawa has learned both the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel at 435 Albert St. and the Best Western Plus at 377 O’Connor St. have been sold and are closing permanently.

Ownership group member Jake Levinson tells CTV News Ottawa the COVID-19 pandemic played a big role in the sale and closure, but it was not the only reason.  Levinson says talk about selling the hotels started before the pandemic began.

Levinson would not say who purchased the two hotels.

“Definitely not shocked. How can they stay open if no one is staying there,” said one person walking by the hotel on Friday.

“I’m definitely not shocked at all. I think I was almost anticipating something like that,” said another person.

The closures of the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel and the Best Western Plus come as all hotels in the national capital region struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association says business is down at hotels across the region this year.

“They’re down anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent depending on the week. I characterize it as a bit of a train-wreck, although that’s an insult to train-wrecks these days,” Steve Ball, President of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association during an interview with CTV News at FIve.

“It’s tough, and it’s only going to get tougher through the winter months.”

Ball tells CTV News Ottawa hotels are looking at five per cent occupancy moving forward through the winter and into the spring.

“We’ll see minor recoveries mid summer 2021, but we might not get back to our 2019 numbers until 2023,” said Ball.

“Recovering is going to be dependant on a vaccine or at least short-term testing.”

Ball says many hotels in Ottawa have chosen to remain temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and may remain closed until after the winter.

At the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa, hundreds of staff have been temporarily laid-off during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We used to be an 80 per cent hotel and now we’re an eight per cent hotel, just change a decimal point,” said Ross Meredith, General Manager of the Westin Hotel.

“I mean it’s note quite like that, but the story isn’t far apart.”

Meredith adds many hotels are nervous about the winter.

“Winter is coming, and that’s not nearly as fun to look forward to as a hoteliers perspective, and we’re a bit nervous. We’re a bit nervous about the length of time that it will take for a recovery.”

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