Hundreds of Napa County residents who evacuated from their homes during the county’s wildfires have found temporary lodging where wine country visitors usually do – at local hotels and inns.
A number of Napa hotels are offering accommodations to evacuees, and often their own employees, at reduced prices and sometimes for free.
As of Tuesday, about 125 local families, some with as many as four or more people, had decamped to the Meritage Resort and Spa in south Napa, said Michael Palmer, general manager of the hotel.
The hotel is offering rooms for $99 per night for those impacted by the fires, said a news release. Such rooms usually go for about $370 or more per night this time of year.
More than 200 of those rooms were made available, said Andrew Bradley, marketing and communications manager at the Meritage Resort and Spa.
Some of those are from the Silverado area and others from other areas that were evacuated, Bradley said. The Meritage has been unaffected by the fires, he said.
Besides those guests, “We are offering a lounge area at our resort with complimentary water, coffee, charging stations, Internet access and TVs,” he said on Tuesday.
The lounge area is open Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in two salons located between the main lobby and Siena restaurant. “We hope it provides comfort,” Bradley said.
Palmer said some out-of-town groups had cancelled reservations at the Meritage, but that actually helped free up rooms for those local residents who need accommodations.
“Now is not the time to be thinking of the financial picture,” he said. “It’s to make sure we’re helping out.”
Sara Brooks, the general manager at the Napa River Inn, said on Tuesday that her hotel was mostly occupied with fire evacuees.
“I think that a lot of people are just happy they are safe,” said Brooks.
“We’ve had some people that were really lucky to get out with their lives,” she said. “Losing their house is devastating but it puts things in perspective. There’s not a single person here who hasn’t been affected or know people who have lost their homes.”
As for the tourists who usually stay at the hotel, “A lot are trying to make the best of a bad situation, but most have left, some early,” she said. Others that don’t have flights for several more days have stayed on, she said.
“They’ve been pretty nice,” about the whole situation, she said of those guests.
Of the 66 rooms at the hotel, about 75 percent are occupied by evacuees, officials said.
“We started taking evacuees and we took as many as we could for free,” which is most of those evacuees, she said.
Some guests showed up with nothing but the clothes on their backs, she said. “We’ve been supplying a lot of bottled water, deodorant, tooth paste, toothbrushes …”
Families are sleeping in beds, on roll-away couches and airbeds, “whatever we could find to make people comfortable.”
And humans aren’t the only guests. “We have a ton of dogs staying here right now,” said Brooks. Usually the hotel has five to 10 dog guests at any one time. On Tuesday, there were about 30, plus a few cats.
“Napa is resilient,” said Brooks. “These are the times I love living here. Everyone comes together. People find out what other people need and they provide it.”
Jeffrey Miller, the new general manager at the Andaz hotel Napa, said that about half of the hotel’s 140 rooms are occupied by evacuees and some of their pets. Employees from PG&E and other agencies are also staying the hotel, he added.
Some of the local guests who have checked in seem “devastated,” he said. Many have arrived with few personal belongings.
To accommodate those evacuees, the hotel is charging rates that are “much, much less than normal,” he said.
Some Andaz employees have had a harder time getting to work. With schools temporarily closed, that can cause child care problems. The hotel is also making room for employees who are also displaced.
Silverado Resort and Spa, near where many homes were destroyed, remains closed until further notice.
“Guests and staff have been safely evacuated. We have waived cancellation fees for guests checking in this week and next week,” said Gabriella Chiera, senior manager, global communications for the Wyndham Hotel Group. The Silverado Resort and Spa is a Wyndham Hotel Group property.
“The situation continues to change very quickly and we are closely monitoring, although communication remains a challenge,” said Chiera.
Napa County hotels aren’t the only ones offering a helping hand. Hotel Zephyr in San Francisco is currently offering evacuees a $95 room rate, which will include breakfast, parking and Wi-Fi. Pets are welcome, said Jason Williams, general manager of Hotel Zephyr. Up to 20 rooms per night or more will be allocated, hotel officials said.
Sonoma Raceway opened its 50 Acres campground to evacuees.
Those in need of RV camping at Sonoma Raceway should enter the campground at Gate 6 on Highway 121, a quarter-mile north of Highway 37. The raceway will team up with United Site Services to offer basic RV services, including water/sewage service, to campers during their stay. The campground is dry with no hookups.