Charlottetown's Delta Prince Edward is open to the public again after acting exclusively as the host of the Canadian Premier League's 2020 soccer season.
The league came to P.E.I. to play a shortened version of its season, dubbed the Island Games, in a bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hotel general manager James Tingley credits the teamwork of the city, the province and Meetings and Conventions PEI for bringing the season to P.E.I., and giving the Delta the chance to host the players, coaches and staff.
"It was an opportunity for heads in beds," said Tingley.
"We ran 85 per cent occupancy — that's about 184 rooms — from Aug. 8 through Sept. 7th."
Four teams then left the bubble as the playoffs began. The championship game between Hamilton and Halifax was Sept. 19 with Hamilton's Forge taking the honours.
The league made the hotel a busy place during a quiet tourism season. Numbers are not yet available for August, but in July, the number of room nights sold on the Island fell 79 per cent.
The players had already self-isolated for two weeks before they arrived in Charlottetown. They were then set up in a bubble in the hotel. Each team had its own floor and its own team room on the ground floor in the convention centre with access to the deck outside.
Meals were delivered to the team rooms, but to minimize contact between hotel and league staff, the team rooms were vacated while meals were set up, and also while they were being cleaned up afterwards.
Sharing the benefits
The economic benefits spread beyond the hotel, said Tingley, with much of the food for the visitors' meals purchased locally. Meetings and Conventions PEI also developed an app for the players that connected them to local businesses that would deliver meals, food and other items.
"That was handled by our security, because no one could come into the hotel — couldn't even come into the driveway," said Tingley.
"Our security would pick that up from the delivery people, and then put it in a secure place in the lobby where it was picked up by the individuals that had ordered it."
As teams eventually left the hotel for good, staff would gather outside and applaud the players as they got on the bus. Both sides were masked and physical distancing rules applied, said Tingley, but it was still an opportunity for everyone to say thank you.
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