TORONTO — Manga Hotels is the largest private owner of hotels in Atlantic Canada, with 11 of its 18 properties located in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick. Needless to say, they were heartened by the July 4 announcement if the “Atlantic Bubble,” which permits travel among the four Atlantic provinces without the need for a 14-day quarantine.
Manga’s Atlantic properties include seven Hiltons, two Marriotts, one IHG and one independent brand. In Halifax, Manga hotels comprise 22 per cent of the market. All together, the company has 1,800 rooms in Atlantic Canada.
The pandemic happened so quickly, Manga president and CEO Sukhdev Toor told CLN. In the middle of March, they closed five of their Atlantic hotels: The Delta Fredericton, the Hilton Garden Inn St. John’s, the Hilton Garden Inn Halifax Airport, the Hollis Halifax and the Residence Inn Halifax Downtown. Those hotels have all reopened.
“The truth is there was no business going on — just some health care and contract business,” said Toor. The airline business had died. In March, the occupancy was 20 per cent among all of Manga’s hotels; in April 18-20 per cent; and last month 19 per cent. Opening the bubble was a good thing — there are 2.6 million people in Atlantic Canada. This area did better damage control, as there were not many cases of COVID-19.
“With the bubble, we are looking at 5 to 10 per cent improvement in occupancy. It helps that everybody can travel back and forth to do business.” General managers at Manga’s Atlantic hotels are working hard and bringing back staff.
During the pandemic, Manga renovated the 230-room Atlantica in downtown Halifax to the tune of $14 million. Before and during the pandemic, they also added 30 more rooms to the Holiday Inn Express Halifax Airport, for a total of 149 rooms.
“The prediction industry-wide was that in June we would have 30, 40 or 50 per cent occupancy, but the U.S. is impacting big time,” said Toor. “Business won’t return until the border opens, but at the same time, we don’t want to open until it is safe.
“This year is a write-off, as there is not a lot of business booked int he next 90 days. It used to be that we were packed in the summer, but we’re looking at 25 per cent this summer.”
Manga has implemented cleaning protocols and safety measures at its hotels, with the Hiltons meeting the CleanStay standards, and all hotels implementing plexiglass screens, masks and more. The Marriott protocols include spraying with electrostatic precipitators. “We are also dealing with food safety, making sure food is bagged properly with as little human touch as possible,” Toor said.
One of the company’s achievements is the opening of the Stmr36 Barbecue and Social restaurant, designed by Toronto design firm mackaywong, at the Delta Fredericton. “More than 70 years ago, the steamers of the St. John River would stop at 36 places along the river – one of those stops is now the location of Delta Hotels by Marriott Fredericton’s new restaurant Stmr.36 BBQ and Social,” wrote huddle.today. The restaurant debuted during the pandemic, is currently open Thursday until Sunday, and obeys social distancing requirements.
Toronto area pipeline still active
In other Manga news, the company continues construction on a 33-storey building at 203 Jarvis Street that will include a 239-room Hyatt Place and 180 apartment rentals.
The Hyatt Place planned for the grounds of the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport has been delayed a few months.
The Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport, which has 493 rooms, has undergone a major renovation.
Manga also has three downtown properties in the design phase at 689 King Street West, 471 Richmond St. West and 38 Camden St., across the street from where the ACE Hotel is being built.