Evacuees overflowing Austin fill up Buda, San Marcos hotels

Hurricane Laura

A bus brings Hurricane Laura evacuees to an Austin hotel Aug. 27, 2020 (KXAN Photo)

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SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN)– “It’s a lot of people coming through our hotels in a very short period of time,” says Vik Patel, owner of Haven Hospitality.

He manages four hotels in San Marcos — all sold out Wednesday and Thursday night due to hurricane evacuees.

“People are coming with their whole families. A typical room will have four to six people in there. Half of our properties have pets … and so our hotels are fully occupied,” Patel says.

He also says they weren’t ready; the pandemic and resulting business loss had forced them to scale down staff.

“This has been a glimmer of hope, but at the same time, we weren’t ready, our staff wasn’t ready. We were really staffing down, so our staff is having to work over time… So they’re kind of getting rundown and tired,” Patel says.

San Marcos’ tourism bureau says hotels across the city were booked Wednesday night.

“Wednesday night, hotels were at full capacity of available rooms. Due to the devasting effects the crisis has had on our travel industry, several hotels are not fully staffed; therefore could not open their hotels to the pre-crisis full capacity.”

Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez, San Marcos Director of Destination Services

A spokesperson for the City of Buda confirms all its hotels were also at full capacity.

A spokesperson for the City of Kyle did not have that information.

Patel says managing safety has been difficult with so many guests.

“The struggle we’re finding is that a lot of customers come in and they’re just not used to staying at a hotel during COVID because, you know, they’ve all been staying at their homes … and they’re not wearing their masks.”

Patel says all his staff are wearing masks and properties have sanitizing stations.

“We just ask our customers also to kind of work with us and follow procedure and we’ll get through this,” he says.

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