As the COVID-19 pandemic forced hotels across the country to close or limit their operations, some properties furloughed staff and cut hours in response while others found alternative jobs for employees to keep them on the payroll despite the lack of guests. Among these, the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in Cape Coral, Florida, shifted the responsibilities of nine employees, including housekeepers, bellmen, front-desk staff, and engineers, to focus on maintaining the property as the hotel used its closure as an opportunity to expedite its planned renovation.
Before the pandemic, the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village was slated to complete its renovation in December 2021. By shifting gears during its COVID-19 shutdown, the hotel began its renovation on May 1, 2020, and, as a result, moved its completion date to the end of 2020—a full year ahead of schedule.
Michael Tighe, general manager of the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, said that the $15 million renovation includes increasing room inventory and a new design inspired by the concept of biophilia, “a belief that people have an innate need to connect with nature,” Tighe described. “Natural materials locally sourced from Florida, soothing fluid patterns related to water, and vibrant accents evoke a peaceful ambiance while complementing stunning waterfront views from each guestroom.”
Tighe added that because of the pandemic, furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) had to be sourced locally or from international areas that were able to fulfill and ship orders. The hotel used smaller, local labor contractors to avoid contractors from having to travel out-of-state. “There was a concerted effort to find labor to support the local economy,” Tighe explained.
Tighe said that contractors worked daily in addition to the nine caretakers, who focused their efforts on the overall maintenance of the hotel and enhancing cleaning in preparation for its reopening on June 19.
In addition to the new design, the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village used its COVID-19 shutdown as an opportunity to incorporate technology that would create a safer environment for guests and employees. The hotel, which is part of the Westin brand owned by Marriott International, added Marriott’s Mobile Key so that guests could access their rooms using their personal devices, helping to limit the interaction between hotel staff and travelers.
As the property reopens, Tighe said that the hotel is practicing social distancing in compliance with all federal, state, and local public health guidelines. “We implemented new protocols to ensure we deliver a memorable experience with comfort and safety being our highest priority.”