The federal government’s phone-only booking system for the mandatory hotel quarantine went live less than 2 weeks ago, and it was an unmitigated disaster by literally all accounts. Yet another failure on their part on the travel file. But good news: you no longer have to book via that inefficient phone line, at last! Even better: 13 of the 42 hotels can even be booked online (!!!) now.
I mean, at the risk of repeating myself… who could have predicted that a phone-only booking system would be inefficient? Well… everyone except the government it seems.
Especially since the phone system was announced and rolled out just 3 days before the new rule took effect. Look, some criticized me for being too harsh and pessimistic in my first post before the launch… but this has all been objectively much worse than even I had predicted.
But last week the government said their phone line wasn’t the problem: travelers were to blame for that too (how original).
So it wasn’t the system’s fault… but yesterday they’ve completely changed the whole system.
(Almost as logical as saying that international travel is not a major cause of COVID-19 transmission—which all the data has always shown by the way—and then requiring a $1,000 hotel stay with no evidence at all that this is any more effective than just finally testing travelers and enforcing the home quarantine.)
The 2 changes to the booking process
We’ve updated our ultimate guide to Canada’s hotel quarantine with the brand-new booking process details, but here are the highlights.
From the start, not only were quarantine hotels only bookable by phone, you could not contact the hotels directly either: you had to book via one specific phone number (operated by GB Travel Inc.; a company you know very well that was aptly and subtly renamed during this fiasco to distance itself from the whole debacle). The wait time was anywhere from a few hours to 27 hours approximately.
Now, there have been 2 major improvements:
- you can book with the hotels directly
- you can even book some hotels online
I’ve been booking my flights and hotels online myself for literally 15+ years now, but hey, better late than never for the government to allow this very simple option.
However, don’t get too excited: only 13 of the 42 hotels are bookable online, and they are often the most expensive…
But this is all really new, so our hope is that more will be available online in the coming days.
The best news is that by booking directly with the hotel, you’ll likely be able to earn a lot more travel rewards points. Don’t forget to create a free account with the hotel chain you choose (and register for their seasonal promo), especially for such a costly stay. You’ll likely earn a future free night (or almost) with most programs! More details to come in a separate post.
Here are the 13 hotels you can currently book online, with the booking link:
|Montréal (YUL)||Courtyard||book online|
|Residence Inn||book online|
|Embassy Suites||book online|
|Toronto (YYZ)||Sheraton Toronto Airport||book online|
|Sheraton Gateway||book online|
|Four Points||book online|
|Vancouver (YVR)||The Westin Wall Centre||book online|
|Four Points||book online|
|Fairmont Hotel||book online|
|Calgary (YYC)||Marriott||book online|
|Acclaim Hotel||book online|
We have a lot more information about all 42 hotels in our post with the list of quarantine hotels in Canada.
You can rely on the hotel’s regular rate that we’ve researched for all 42 hotels (only Marriott hotels have published quarantine prices online, they’re all in our very complete table too, along with each hotel’s customer rating out of 10, and the link to its official page).
Because if Hotel X is the cheapest option at the regular rates, chances are Hotel X is also the cheapest for your quarantine.
Booking with the hotels directly is obviously not as convenient to compare prices (by calling the central booking line you can ask for each one’s price) but if the wait times are still hourslong, at least you can try calling the hotel directly.
Other quarantine hotel updates
There are widespread reports of not being able to get basic necessities like food. It’s almost as if this was all rolled out haphazardly, believe it or not.
The National Post has reported that some travelers are just blatantly ignoring the new hotel quarantine because the $880 fine is cheaper than the hotel stay. I would be very hesitant to do this, despite the fact that it is indeed completely stupid to have to quarantine in a hotel instead of alone at home. Not just because it’s illegal, but because those fines could easily be increased and harsher penalties could be implemented with no warning whatsoever.
Some say that it will be possible to dispute those fines and that they’re illegal. But while I consider myself a travel expert, a credit card expert, a management expert… I am not a legal expert.
Speaking of judicial issues, lawsuits have been officially launched to challenge the hotel quarantine measure that some call unconstitutional. Arbitrary detention and loss of the freedom to enter Canada are the arguments that are mentioned. But governments have pretty much limited all freedoms due to the pandemic (I’m not even allowed to leave my home after 8 pm) and many experts seem to say that all these measures can be justified legally due to the extraordinary circumstances.
We’ll let you know if there is more news on this front, but I am not optimistic that this will succeed in removing the hotel quarantine. If you really want to avoid it, entering at a land border is the safest option.
Finally, a Montreal woman was sexually assaulted in a quarantine hotel. The ≈ $1,000 cost for 3 days is completely unreasonable (except compared to Justin Trudeau’s taxpayer-funded vacations) and it is supposed to include “security” costs, but every single traveler testimonial has mentioned that there is absolutely no surveillance whatsoever in those hotels.
Good thing we’re forcing people to go to a hotel instead of just staying at home right?
By the way, 99.4% of those infected by COVID-19 in January in Canada were not travelers so 99.4% of those infected are not quarantining in a hotel and in fact have no surveillance of their quarantine at all even if 100% of them are infected compared to about 2% infected among travelers based on known results… but that’s too fact-based to make for good outrage-inducing headlines.
Want to get all coronavirus updates for Canadian travelers?
Canada’s quarantine hotels no longer have to be booked by phone.
What do you think of this fiasco? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: a telegraph, the government’s next booking system (photo credit: LOC)
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