As Connecticut residents look for places to stay during the massive power outages from the unusual October snowstorm, many hotels are booked up if they have not lost power themselves.
Avon Old Farms Hotel at the base of Avon Mountain on Route 44 and on Simsbury Road in Avon both got power back at the same time the state highway did Monday night, however neither have vacancies at this time. The Residence Inn will not have vacancies until next week at earliest and rooms at the Avon Old Farms Hotel are sold out through Nov. 8 already.
“I don’t think we expected it to be this bad, but we were prepared,” Residence Inn manager Mindy Levy said. “We have flashlights and lanterns and things like that. We have great staff members that stayed over to make sure our guests were taken care of. “
Both hotels had some guests staying with them during the power outage, but were not taking new guests. Levy said that despite the lack of electricity, many of the rooms still managed to stay warm because of sun shining into the rooms.
“I can say we’ve become very knowledgeable of the guests we have, the few we have because they’ll come down and talk to anyone who’s working,” Avon Old Farms Hotel General Manager Edward J. Kosinski.
The storm limited the Avon Old Farms Hotel and the guests staying there were staying knowing the hotel had no heat, hot water, or electricity, Kosinski said Monday as he lit candles in the lobby.
Although there was not electric heat in the building, Avon Old Farms Hotel has a fireplace near the front desk that staff and guests would congregate at to keep warm and socialize.
They’re appreciative of having a place to go. What most people found was Saturday night, they just couldn’t go anywhere else. They said we just can’t drive. We have no power, we have no hot water…. So we’ll stay with you guys.”
While many business people did not end up coming because most Avon offices were closed the past few days, the majority of guests are Connecticut Light & Power employees working on restoring power to town.
“They need to be here just to work on the lines,” Kosinski said.
Some even asked to stay there regardless of the lack of power because they felt it was safer than staying at home where there are downed trees in their house or on their property.
Despite having open rooms before the power came on, Kosinski said one of the reasons they couldn’t fill the rooms, beyond having no electricity, was not being able to do laundry or clean the rooms, leaving even some vacated rooms from Saturday guests unclean.
Gas for hotel equipment was scarce and one Avon Old Farms Hotel staff member had to drive as far as Middletown to find fuel.
Like many restaurants and grocery stores in the area, the hotel’s refrigeration also was not functioning, meaning they had to get rid of perishable food in their . Many distributors were not able to even deliver food to bring in fresh food to the hotel. The FARM chef had to be creative with the food he could serve, making sandwiches, Chex mix and “anything to hold people over.”
“If you don’t have refrigeration, it’s not safe to serve the food,” Kosinski said Monday, noting that after the power came back on, it would take at least 24 hours until full hotel services and functions could be restored.“The people that are staying with us are pretty happy that we’re trying anything."
The Residence Inn also had to throw out its perishables.
“We’re able to use a gas grill to boil water and we’ve made coffee, which has been very appreciated. We usually have a full hot breakfast, but instead we did muffins and bagels and fruit instead,” Levy said Monday afternoon before the power came back on.
Wednesday evening the FARM Restaurant was open, however the FARM table dinner has been canceled Nov. 3 due to the storm. The restaurant is typically open to the public.
Some area residents have traveled as far as hotels on the southern Connecticut shoreline, though many of those hotels are full. Others have had to go as far as Springfield, MA.