Government-sanctioned “COVID hotels” continue to receive mixed reactions

Worth the Money?

The COVID-19 mandatory hotel stopover program, in place since February, is still receiving mixed reactions from travellers obliged by the federal government to stay in them.
The law mandates that all travellers arriving in Canada must book a stay in a government-sanctioned hotel for a minimum of 3 nights while they await their COVID-19 test results.
This is in addition to the need for a negative COVID-19 test provided before the flight and another test performed at the airport upon arrival.
But these hotel stopovers are an aspect that has attracted much controversy over the past weeks, with many claiming they are far too expensive for what is offered.
Sophie Carolin Schroll, originally from Austria, is one of the thousands of people who have recently gone through the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and the mandatory hotel stopover.
Schroll did not find the experience pleasant, especially when considering the price of $1113 she had to pay for a two-night stay at the Crowne Plaza Montreal Airport.
“My experience was pretty, really negative,” said Schroll adding that she “didn’t understand how they can actually ask for so much money.”
Although she said the staff were accommodating and that she was not expecting a luxurious experience, she felt more could be done to make the stay more enjoyable.
Certain positive experiences
On the other hand, some also feel that the stays aren’t as bad. Cassiopée Nouvel Zurcher was flying from her home in Saint-Barthélemy in the Carribean and found her experience to be what she expected.
Zurcher was staying at the Marriott Residence Inn Montreal Airport while she waited for the results of her second PCR test conducted on arrival at the airport.
“The place was nice, honestly, the food was good, “said Zurcher, adding “the room we had had a small kitchen, we had a small table. Honestly, we had space.”
Zurcher also appreciated that there was staff on hand to accompany guests outside if they wanted to get fresh air. “You call security and you have somebody that comes to get you at your door and walks you through the hotel to go outside,” said Zurcher.
Horrible food
But one thing that many have complained about is the poor quality of the food in some hotels. Included in the total price of the hotel stay, food is ordered from a set menu and delivered directly to the room at mealtimes.
For Schroll, her experience with regards to the food served was not so positive. “The food situation was pretty, pretty bad,” said Schroll, adding that it “was worse than in an airplane.” She said that only 1 meal out of the 6 she had during her stay was okay.
According to government directives, guests are allowed to order food to their hotel rooms, but this is of course an additional cost to the price they are already paying.
“It was just horrible food,” Schroll said.
Other examples
Regardless of how people’s individual experiences went, many are in agreement that the hotels are overpriced. According to Google’s hotel booking tool, a night at the Crowne Plaza Montreal Airport usually runs at around $165 per night.
This means that in regular circumstances, excluding food, Schroll would have paid roughly $330 plus tax for a 2-night stay. When compared to the approximately $1100 she paid, it’s clear how much more guests are paying under the current program.
When compared to other countries that have similar programs, it seems that the per-night rate in Canada is much higher. Australia also has a mandatory hotel quarantine mandate that orders travellers to remain at a government hotel for a minimum of 14 days.
Although the total price is higher than that of Canada, ranging between $3,000 and $5,000, it comes out to a lower per-night rate.
But for all guests like Schroll or Zurcher, once a test comes back negative they are free to leave the hotel and enter the country.
“As soon as you get your negative test, you can just call the reception, tell them your negative, and you’re good to go,” said Zurcher.
Both were reimbursed by the hotels for the third night which they were not obliged to remain once their tests came back negative.