Alberta hotels work together through flood

Hotel operators put safety of guests and associates first

Cresent Heights. Photo by Sean Espenko.

Cresent Heights. Photo by Sean Espenko.

ALBERTA—When floodwaters threatened to invade the Westin
Calgary’s basement, the hotel was given gas-powered pumps from suppliers,
contractors and a sister location. Joumana Ghandour,

Joumana Ghandour

The Westin Edmonton
general manager, drove nearly 300 kilometres bringing two more to assist.

Joumana Ghandour

“She drove with her husband from Edmonton to Calgary to
deliver these pumps and … we were able to bring more water out than the water
that was coming in,” said DidierLuneau, general manager of The Westin Calgary. “That was a
race against water and a race against time.”

With nearby surrounding buildings were flooded, he told CLN, The Westin and neighbouring
building owners sandbagged entranceways to keep the water out as the heaviest
rains fell and the Bow River flooded. Throughout the heavy rains, the safety
and security of guests and associates was the top priority of the Westin team,
he said, and those who remained at the hotel were in good spirits as they watched
Mother Nature’s fury come down on the city. Guests received complimentary
continental breakfasts and refreshments and associates at the hotel were
rewarded with chair massages after intensive cleaning at the hotel following
the floods.

Didier noted that Calgary’s hotel operators communicated
well with each other and, with the help of the Calgary Hotel Association (CHA),
guests were relocated to airport-area hotels. “It was really amazing team work
between every downtown hotel, the Calgary Hotel Association and the other
hotels in Calgary that were not impacted,” said Didier.

Photo by Wilson Hui.

Photo by Wilson Hui.

Getting people back home and back to work

Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary, told the Calgary Sun that while the first
priority is getting people back in their homes — the second is getting them
back to their jobs.

“We want to remember this industry isn’t just everyone on
holiday, it’s how people earn their living,” she said, adding about 10 per cent
of Calgary’s workforce is in tourism and hospitality.

Dan MacGowan, acting general manager of the Sheraton Suites
Calgary Eau Claire said, although the hotel sustained no damage, business was

Services on the ground floor of the Barclay Parade hotel
were suspended and guests were kept on the property until the downtown closed
and evacuation was recommended.

“All our guests chose to leave. They either went home or
went to other properties not affected by the floodwaters,” said MacGowan

The hotel reopened on Tuesday, but it wasn’t yet business as
usual in the downtown.

“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the City of
Calgary, the Calgary Hospitality Association, Tourism Calgary and all the
hotels that came together in a very strong way in order to support those
visiting Calgary, whether that be for business or leisure,” he told CLN

Mayor Naheed Nenshi is confident the “The Greatest Outdoor
Show on Earth” — slated to run from July 5­14 — will go on as planned,
according to the Sun.

“Stampede 101 may look very, very different than the 100th
Stampede, but it will happen,” he said. “You may not see Calgary at its
prettiest, but you’re going to see Calgary at its best.”

Bob Thompson, president and
chairman of the Calgary Stampede Board, said it gets going Friday “come hell or
high water,” according to the Calgary

“We have pumped millions of gallons of water from our
facilities, scraped the mud from our tarmac, commenced the clean up of our
park, all to welcome guests from around the world,” said Thompson.

Calgary’s tourism industry is working hard to get ready for
the Stampede. “It’s about celebrating the Western spirit and celebrating the
city,” said Luneau.

The Stampede estimates that visitors to the park spend
approximately $345 million at hotels, restaurants and businesses in Alberta.

Stampede grounds. Photo by WIlson Hui.

Stampede grounds. Photo by WIlson Hui.

Bridge at Kananaskis damaged

In a more remote area, The Delta Lodge at Kananaskis was
running on generators because power lines and poles were lost in the

“Everybody’s working extremely hard to get all areas back
and operational,” general manager Dan DeSantis told CLN a week after the flooding. The hotel started taking
reservations again July 2.   

“We were very fortunate; the hotel, the lodge did not
receive any damage whatsoever,” said DeSantis, who was at the resort nearly
round the clock for a week.

Highway 40 had overland flooding in three areas and debris
and rock sliding on the main highway, he said. The bridge leading to the resort
was damaged and access was lost. At the time of the heaviest rain 700 people,
including employees, were at the Delta Lodge.

DeSantis ensured there was food, fuel and water and
communicated with the emergency operation centre. On Thursday, the resort
received 5,000 bottles of water and five pallets of food from arrived from its GFS
supplier Saturday.

The bridge was temporarily repaired with the help of some
guest engineers who shared their knowledge of rig matting. Transportation
Alberta rebuilt the bridge within 48 hours.

About 350 guests were evacuated on Friday evening and the
rest decided to stay on another night.

“Quite frankly, they were enjoying the hospitality, it was a
place were they had all the things that they needed,” said DeSantis. “The guests
who stayed on really didn’t have any place to go, so we became almost that
stay-in-place shelter for them until there was a better idea of where they
could go.”