Holland America announced the closure of its Westmark hotel properties last week until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an April 15 press release, the closed hotels are Westmark Fairbanks, Westmark Anchorage, Westmark Skagway, Westmark Dawson City and the McKinley Chalet Resort at Denali National Park.
The Westmarks in Whitehorse and Sitka will remain open.
The release indicated that guests would be contacted regarding the cancellation of their stay.
Felix Seiler, the chief operating officer of Holloway Lodging Management Services, spoke with the News on April 21 to explain that the Whitehorse Westmark remains open due to it being a franchise rather than being owned directly by the parent company Holland America Line.
Seiler’s company, Holloway, owns both the Westmark and the Days Inn in Whitehorse, the latter of which is closed.
Seiler explained his company has tried to consolidate business in the markets where it owns more than one hotel with the goal to have operations run as efficiently as possible. Whitehorse is one of these communities.
“That’s why we closed the Days Inn,” Seiler said. “We kept the Westmark open because it is in a more central location than the Days Inn.”
Although the Westmark remains open, some of its amenities have been shut down. The restaurant, breakfast rooms and conference halls are all closed. Seiler said all of Holloway’s hotels have only been offering rooms. Any amenities beyond that are shut down.
“Most hotels in this day and age are simply providing accommodations,” Seiler said.
He said the Whitehorse Westmark aims to provide a safe environment for both guests and staff, and that the company has very strict cleaning and check-in policies. This includes ongoing cleaning of hallway door handles and elevator buttons.
The hotel still has bookings that are coming in.
“There is still demand,” Seiler said.
He pointed out that tourism has taken a hit and with the cruise market being closed for the summer, it has impacted business. The bookings are coming from the essential or critical workers that still need to travel.
He explained there are still sales people and corporate traffic needing accommodations. He added that long-haul truck drivers are using hotel rooms as well.
“There is still travel happening, it’s just very very limited,” Seiler said.
He said he hopes that when the pandemic slows down and containment measures are relaxed that people consider coming to visit Whitehorse.
Contact Gord Fortin at email@example.com