• YWCA Hotel – Shelter in the Storm

YWCA Hotel – Shelter in the Storm

The YWCA Hotel is one of the organization’s social enterprises, bringing in a steady source of income that directly supports our programs, from child care to single mothers’ support groups to youth education and beyond. We also offer stays to people in emergency situations.  

When COVID-19 struck, the Hotel’s guests included the usual blend: tourists, students, local workers (many with precarious incomes), out-of-town visitors, people traveling for medical treatment and others in need of affordable accommodation.  

As the pandemic unfolded, guests soon realized that they could be grounded in Vancouver. Prices for plane tickets increased while availability went down. Other hotels began to close, leaving many people with nowhere to turn for accommodations.   

Barbara Lane, Associate Director of the YWCA Hotel, recalled the situation in the lobby during the first few days of the pandemic: “It was chaotic and people were under a lot of stress. Guests would communicate six feet apart in the lobby. People were afraid that they would be unable to go home, and the students who were staying with us were afraid of not being able to talk to friends or other students anymore. The Hotel became their only source of support within the city.”  

The Hotel staff quickly mobilized to make sure everyone was safe and that needs were accounted for and met. Those previously staying in rooms with shared bathrooms were upgraded and moved to rooms with private bathrooms.  

Physical distancing guidelines were also in effect and high-traffic touchpoints sanitized frequently. Staff also helped guests convert their rooms into offices, bringing in tables and desks to accommodate work-from-room set ups. The team also began going for physical-distancing walks with guests who felt anxious and afraid. Ingrid, an international student from Columbia who is staying at the Hotel, was one of the guests who enjoyed daily walks with staff.  

“Every person who works at the YWCA is like an angel. We feel like we’re at home,” said Ingrid. “Barbara offered me encouragement. Sometimes we go for a walk together and talk about life and being thankful." 

To guests, the YWCA Hotel is a shelter in the storm. 

The YWCA Hotel is accepting new bookings after a temporary suspension. The Hotel is also serving our local community and essential travellers who need accommodation while in Vancouver. We look forward to welcoming visitors from further afield as travel restrictions lift. 

This article was originally published on YWCA's Contact Newsletter | Spring/Summer 2020 - COVID-19 Response Issue

Please consider recommending YWCA Hotel Vancouver to your family and friends who are visiting Vancouver. For more information, please visit: ywcavan.org/hotel 

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