ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The Clarion Hotel & Conference Centre has re-opened after significant flooding in November 2021 forced an evacuation. Two employees, Gavin Dememdonca, chef de partie, and Ben Larsen, the hotel’s night auditor, responded heroically during the flood and were honoured with Employee of the Year awards at the re-opening ceremony on Feb. 10, alongside Mayor Henry Braun and president of Choice Hotels Canada, Brian Leon.
Dememdonco swam to the hotel through contaminated water to prepare complimentary food for hotel guests while Larsen watched over the property overnight after the city of Abbotsford issued the evacuation order.
No guests or staff were injured during the evacuation, but the hotel required significant repairs. The property replaced flooring, drywall and furniture, the entire contents of the maintenance shop and storage, including banquet furniture and machinery, as well as two elevators in the hotel and two in the conference centre.
“This unprecedented event happened in the midst of COVID-19 recovery in our industry and one can understand how difficult it has been for the owners, managers and staff at this hotel,” says Leon. “But what is remarkable was their phenomenal reaction to what happened, and their ability to overcome what can only be described as severe hardship. We were delighted to be on site for this good-news milestone and see them re-open their doors to guests.”
Back-of-the-house areas are still undergoing repairs. Full hotel restoration is expected by April 2022.