Hospitality industry reaches out to fire victims
Last updated 10/27/2007 at Noon
TEMECULA — The hospitality and lodging industry of the Temecula Valley is reaching out with both hands to help those displaced by the devastating wildfires of Southern California.
Assistance ranges from food and makeshift lodging in meeting and convention space, travel services for those seeking airline flights and out of the area rooms to free water, toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant for those caught up in this regional disaster that has affected hundreds of thousands of people.
"Given the magnitude of this event, it's obviously not business as usual for hotels and motels of the Temecula Valley," said Kimberly Adams, executive director of the Temecula Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's been gratifying to see how our members have stepped up and extended a helping hand to those forced from their homes."
Temecula Valley Tourist Center in Old Town has helped evacuees find airline flights and when possible rooms in the Temecula area. When local rooms have not been available, workers at the center have helped wildfire victims to find lodging in neighboring communities such as Lake Elsinore and Corona.
Hotels with convention space have converted ballrooms into temporary lodging quarters by adding cots when all their regular rooms filled up. Pechanga Resort & Casino is housing and feeding many of these evacuees from San Diego as well as other tribes affected by wildfires.
Embassy Suites in Temecula set up cots and mattresses in its ballroom to accommodate overflow traffic from its rooms.
"Some of our employees live in Rainbow and Fallbrook," said Donn Hooker, Embassy Suites general manager. "They know of more than one family in our ballroom who lost a home."
Hooker said the hotel is bending the rules a bit as it permits pets and provides free coffee, soda and water to guests/neighbors/evacuees in the hotel's lounge.
The cots in the ballroom are also available to overworked police and fire personnel for a quick nap. Anyone in a uniform gets free breakfast, he added.
He complimented the hotels more than 80 employees who have been arriving early and staying late to help out with the more than 300 guests at the hotel.
The Temecula Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau, formed three years ago, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to stimulate economic growth and tourism by promoting the Temecula Valley as a premiere destination to meeting planners, tour operators and leisure travelers. The bureau is the first in Inland Southern California to use marketing assessment fees rather than taxpayer money to market the region.