A Canada 150 hangover? What hangover?

Chateau Laurier
Chateau Laurier

Buoyed by crowd-pleasing tourist attractions such as the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s Art of the Brick exhibit, some local hotels say they enjoyed a better summer season than they’d anticipated in 2018.

With most industry observers predicting a “hangover” effect following the record-setting Canada 150 year of 2017, many downtown Ottawa hoteliers had braced for a dip in business this summer. According to the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association, the overall occupancy rate in the region through the first half of the year dipped slightly from 2017, settling back to roughly the same level it was at in 2016.

But at least some local hoteliers say the prime leisure-travel months of July and August saw a slight uptick in occupancy rates over 12 months earlier, thanks to big crowds that came to check out buzzworthy exhibits at local museums.

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Chateau Laurier spokeswoman Deneen Perrin said occupancy rates at the iconic downtown lodging were “slightly higher” in July and August than over the same stretch in 2017. She attributed the “great pickup” in room bookings to family-friendly attractions such as The Art of the Brick, an exhibit of life-sized Lego sculptures that ran at the Canada Science and Technology Museum from mid-May to early September.

Perrin said another big draw for out-of-town visitors was the last chance to see the Parliament Buildings before Centre Block shuts down later this year and becomes shrouded in scaffolding as part of a decade-long, $3-billion renovation.

In the ByWard Market, Andaz Ottawa general manager Matt Graham said occupancy at his luxury hotel was “the same or better” this July and August than last year, although he added room rates were lower this summer.

Graham said a promotion that gave guests complimentary passes to the Impressionist Treasures exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada “sold very well,” adding the only time the property saw a hit was on Canada Day, when the humidex hit a record high of 47 C.

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