No festivals, tone deaf aid has Montreal hotels facing permanent closure
MONTREAL -- Several of Montreal's hotels said they were left out of a recent tourism industry bailout package from the provincial government and could be forced to close with no international tourists on the horizon.
Sherbrooke St.'s Hotel de Paris has closed its doors for the first time in 35 years, according to owner Dino Santelli.
“We didn't even have a key for the front door,” he said. “The doors have been open for 35 years, we've never had to have a key.”
While the government has encouraged Quebecers to spend their summer vacations within the province, Santelli said that's not enough to overcome Montreal's status as Canada's COVID-19 epicentre and the cancellation of summer festivals.
“Without those events taking place, we don't see the tourists coming to our city,” he said. “Local Montrealers are not going to stay in a downtown hotel if there's nothing to do locally.”
While $200 million has been set aside to help hotels renovate, Eve Pare of the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal said the offer is tone deaf.
“Hotels are struggling, they have a few weeks of cash flow ahead of them,” she said. “Just thinking of renovating is not realistic.”
In the Hotel de Paris, Restaurant Pamika has shifted to take out orders and will begin welcoming customers again next week. But owner Eddy Germain said that might not be enough.
“The rules about sanitation are pretty intense for us,” he said. “As you see, it's very small, so for me, it's not 50 per cent, it's going to be maybe 20 to 25 per cent.”
Santelli said what hotels in Montreal really need is more access to cash or interest-free loans and a break on overhead costs.
“I believe we could bounce back,” he said. “But in order to bounce back we need a lot of support from the government and our interests have to be aligned.”