Wednesday morning marked a landmark launch in downtown Tacoma with the opening of the new Marriott Tacoma Downtown hotel next to the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.
“We’re officially open,” said Ben Osgood, general manager of the hotel. “We’ve signed all the documents and the doors are open.”
Osgood spoke to The News Tribune not long after the official 9 a.m. opening.
There was no pomp and circumstance with a large crowd of officials to mark the start, given that Pierce County is now awash in its third surge of COVID-19 cases in the pandemic.
“It’s a little quiet, to say the least,” Osgood said. “But …. we are receiving reservations as we speak.”
For tourism officials, that’s good news.
“This is a big day for Pierce County, and we’re excited to officially welcome Marriott Tacoma Downtown into the Tacoma hotel community,” said Dean Burke, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports, via email Wednesday.
Adapting to change
The hotel, with 22 floors and 304 guest rooms, has been a goal for the city since the convention center’s completion in 2004.
The site’s groundbreaking on Aug. 8, 2017, was arranged with the help of a feng shui expert, focused on every celebratory detail down to the date itself to instill good luck on the project.
Fast forward to 2020: Attention to detail now is focused on providing safe service in a pandemic.
Opening plans called for what Osgood describes as a “big pivot” following Gov. Jay Inslee’s new orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Really, the biggest change that we had to pivot on just in the last three, four days is we are unfortunately unable to open our restaurant,” Osgood said.
Staff had trained for weeks planning for a thriving indoor dining scene.
Instead, guests now can experience a revamped room service with quick turnaround time.
“Our interim dining program … it’s not the traditional room service that you would expect where you get to your room and, an hour and a half after you order, your food shows up on the big metal plate (with) all the fancy dinnerware,” Osgood said.
“This is more on demand, a la carte experience that will be delivered to your room or available for grab and go in the lobby within 15 minutes of your order. So it’s hot and fresh. It competes with your fast casual restaurants. Everything’s in compostable packaging. It’s a really good program, and it keeps it actually very affordable for the guest.”
Other amenities for now are either scaled down or temporarily off-limits, such as the pool, spa and fitness center.
Cleaning, air filtration
Cleaning, another big issue top of mind with guests trying to avoid COVID-19, follows a pandemic protocol.
“Basically, anything that can’t be sanitized in the guest room is removed.,” Osgood said, “and available by request only. We’re going pretty much paperless. So QR codes, compendiums on the TV.”
On-screen “compendiums” are best described as a digital concierge,