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Athletes fill local hotels

Local accommodators say the BC Seniors Games have resulted in nearly solid bookings at a traditionally busy time.
The Hume Hotel

There’s not much room at the inn while the BC Seniors Games are underway.

Local accommodators say the festivities, which kicked off last night and continue through Saturday in Nelson, Castlegar, and Trail, have resulted in nearly solid bookings at a traditionally busy time.

Ryan Martin, general manager of the Hume Hotel and Best Western Baker Street Inn, said Monday they have been turning people away at both locations.

“It certainly is a welcome boom for the area,” he said. “Typically we’re pretty full on weekends. That’s what’s so great about this: starting Tuesday, it’s full right into the weekend.”

Martin says August is generally a high-traffic month anyway, but compared to three or four years ago, “summers aren’t what they used to be.”

Since the economic downturn, they have seen fewer American visitors, and the ones who do come are often surprised to find their dollar isn’t as strong.

Martin has also noticed the summer rush takes longer to arrive.

“It used to be that Canada Day would kick things off,” he says. “This year it wasn’t until third week in July that it kicked in. I don’t know if it was a coincidence that the weather started cooperating then, but it seems to start later and finish later.”

He says September remains a strong month, with the Nelson Road Kings weekend among the busiest on the calendar.

John LeBleu, manager of the Prestige Lakeside Resort and Prestige Lakeview Inn in Nelson, as well as the Prestige Resort in Rossland, said Monday all three hostelries were “very close to full,” although a few rooms were left as a result of a group tour cancellation. Most guests are Games participants.

Tom Thomson of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce confirmed other hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast operators have been experiencing the same thing.

While most still had rooms for Tuesday, “Wednesday-Thursday-Friday seems like everybody’s well booked. It’s going to be pretty darn hard to find a room in Nelson.”

Thomson said the Mountain Hound Inn, North Shore Inn, and Villa Motel were booked all the way through the weekend, Kootenay Lakeview Lodge was booked Wednesday-Thursday, and Kokanee Glacier Cabins had a couple of rooms each day.

Thomson says while a few years ago it would have been “almost impossible” to find rooms in the third week of August, now people don’t seem to book as far ahead.

“We’ll likely see people coming into town this week looking for a room and we’ll go ‘There’s not much available, but here’s a list of some places,’” Thomson says.

He says some vacationers may not realize the event is going on, and while it’s tough to find a room on the spur of the moment in the summer, it is especially difficult when there are 3,200 athletes in the region.

Although it’s hard to predict the exact economic impact on the area, Thomson said it should be greater than other sporting events where athletes are billeted or put up in local schools.

“Everybody’s staying in hotels, motels, campgrounds, or RV parks,” he says. “Sometimes with friends and families, but for the most part accommodators are used.”

He further notes athletes will be dining at Games-sponsored events only a couple of times, so restaurants should also feel spin-off benefits.

Games plan comes together

The man who has chaired Nelson’s end of the BC Seniors Games says he’s confident that after a year’s preparation, everything is ready.

Bill Reid has a few official duties this week, including emceeing the entertainment in Nelson tomorrow and the closing ceremonies in Castlegar on Saturday, but in between he’ll try to drop in on as many venues as he can.

“There are 320 [participants] entered in the dragon boat races, so that’s going to be the big one in Nelson for sure,” he says of the event to be held at Lakeside Park on Thursday and Friday.

“There will be a bit of excitement, I imagine, around cycling in Blewett, and table tennis, they brought in a ton of equipment up at L.V. Rogers. That would be fun to watch too.”

Reid says as of last Friday most volunteer positions were filled, although they still needed a few more drivers in Castlegar.

He wasn’t worried about waking up to showers Monday morning. “It’s one day of rain to make the fields happy — all organized in advance,” he deadpanned.