Saskatoon

Saskatchewan hotels offer discount rooms to doctors, nurses wanting to isolate during COVID-19

Hotels in Saskatchewan are offering discounted rooms for health-care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hotels say it's the right thing to do in a trying situation

Park Town Hotel general manager Salil Kulkarni has opened the hotel's doors to doctors and nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Salil Kulkarni)

Some hotels in Saskatchewan are offering discounted rooms for health-care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Park Town Hotel in Saskatoon is offering people who don't want to return home to their families — for fear of spreading the highly infectious coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — a place to stay.

"There are a lot of hotels in the city that have closed down and a lot of hotels are not accepting nurses or isolating people," said the Park Town Hotel's general manager, Salil Kulkarni.

"Somebody has to step up and get this done."

In Saskatoon, Hilton Garden Inn and Travelodge Hotel by Wyndham Saskatoon are offering the same service. A statement from each general manager says the businesses "have the responsibility to assist in whatever way we can."

A similar service is also being provided by the Days Inn by Wyndham in Regina.

Kulkarni stressed this is not a money-making decision for his hotel. He said the hotel is only charging 30 per cent of what it normally does.

Federal tax deferrals and wage subsidies are helping the business stay open, he said.

"We are not making any money out of this," said Kulkarni.

"We have dropped our rates to the point where we can hardly even survive."

Kulkarni said the Park Town Hotel has brought in extra staff dedicated to sanitizing everything from elevator buttons to handrails and doorknobs.

He's asked for extra masks and gloves for his cleaning staff, in order to not potentially spread the virus further.

We have dropped our rates to the point where we can hardly even survive.- Salil Kulkarni

The hotel has also set up a separate floor for people travelling to the city for non-COVID-19 related medical treatments, like cancer treatments.

Ultimately, he would like to see the Saskatchewan Health Authority get involved and start paying for rooms.

While the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association has been in contact with the authority on a number of initiatives — from temporary housing for homeless people to providing off-site medical care — no deal has been struck yet.

"It just seems to be like a natural fit," said association president Jim Bence.

"In the hotel industry, it's just part of something that we do. We understand that side of it."

The Park Town has also started taking in people who are self-isolating for 14 days in a separate wing of the hotel, far from the main tower. People pay with online reservations and use a separate entrance to go to their rooms.

"Once they get in there, they don't have to leave for about 14 days," said Kulkarni.

"There's no direct physical contact between us and the guests."

now