New hotels in the area are still popping up amid pandemic
MILWAUKEE COUNTY (CBS 58) -- Area hotels are still opening their doors amid the pandemic. A number of them planned construction to complete in time to have a full house for the DNC, but that is no longer.
The new Renaissance Milwaukee West in Wauwatosa just opened its doors to their first guests Thursday afternoon, Aug. 13, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and just days before the DNC. The Wauwatosa location is the first Renaissance hotel to open in the state.
“What we’re going through currently with the existing environment, it’s been a learning experience,” said Vik Khokhar, General Manager for Renaissance Milwaukee West.
The hotel began construction in early 2019. The high rise has 196 rooms, almost 9,000 square feet of event space and an on-site restaurant called Eldr and Rime.
Khokhar says while it’s a different experience opening during a pandemic, it’s made them stronger.
“I think as we come out of this pandemic, we’ll realize there might be some practices that are here to stay and some that we will learn from and become stronger as an operational team here,” he added.
The hotel opened just in time for the DNC, but won’t have nearly the same amount of guests as pre-COVID-19.
“I wish it was a bigger event, like it was once anticipated, but we’re still looking forward to welcoming a few guests that are coming into town,” Khokhar said.
The Renaissance Milwaukee West isn’t the only hotel to open amid the pandemic.
A 17-room historic hotel called the Dubbel Dutch Hotel in downtown Milwaukee opened early July. They’ve found the silver lining in an ever-changing situation.
“Being a new hotel we didn’t have to go through all these redos, we were evolving in real time,” said Anne Koller, Co-House Manager for Dubbel Dutch Hotel.
The Dubbel Dutch is also feeling the effects of a much smaller DNC.
“When things were going we had a full house booking actually. It was rented out, all of the rooms, and unfortunately that was cancelled just because of the nature of how the DNC has changed,” added Koller.
Both hotels have implemented heavy cleaning procedures to make sure customers have a safe stay. They’re also remembering to stay positive as they navigate a new normal in hospitality.
“Be very optimistic, to have that optimism spread throughout the community too, because that’s what keeps us going, all the time,” said Khokhar.
Khokhar hopes opening the hotel in the middle of a pandemic will give the community some confidence that the hospitality industry will rise again at some point.