The Coast Bastion Hotel, with its windows lit up in the shape of a heart, overlooks the historical Bastion, illuminated in pink. Both gestures celebrate and acknowledge health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo submitted)

Downtown Nanaimo hotel shows love and appreciation for front-line workers

Coast Bastion illuminates windows in the shape of hearts, hopes other buildings do the same

A lot of Nanaimo homes have hearts in the windows, but in a highrise hotel, hearts in the windows can be done on a rather larger scale.

The Coast Bastion Hotel downtown has started lighting up rooms on two sides of the building in the shape of hearts.

General manager Dave McQuinn said it’s something that the Coast Bastion saw was happening in other places, and he liked the idea of “paying tribute to the people on the front lines” of the COVID-19 fight. He hopes Nanaimo will get even louder with its nightly 7 p.m. noise for health-care workers.

“We thought if we put the hearts up that other big buildings would maybe jump on board and we could make our nurses, doctors, first-responder celebration a little bit bigger and a little bit better,” McQuinn said. “Because let’s make no mistake. Those people are doing some incredible work and need to be celebrated and thanked because without them, we’re in a lot worse shape than we are today, aren’t we?”

The Coast Bastion isn’t utilizing the hotel rooms on the lower floors right now, so it’s easy enough to turn the lights on and off to create a heart pattern. McQuinn said about four weeks ago, occupancy dropped from 80 per cent to 10 per cent almost overnight. Still, he said the Coast Bastion is better off than some hotels in Vancouver and Victoria, for example, which have closed or even boarded up.

“We don’t have such a big facility that we need to look after, so it’s economically viable to stay open and deal with whoever needs a room,” McQuinn said. “So we’re pretty lucky and the people that are working are happy to be working. But straight across the world, everybody’s in the same boat – you can’t really be successful in the hotel business unless people are travelling.”

McQuinn said he doesn’t foresee business picking up until air travel bounces back. In the meantime, he said the Coast Bastion’s staff is healthy and that’s the important thing.

“There’s a lot of people worse off than we are, so we’re being positive, knowing that at some point we’ll come to the end and at the other side, we’ll dust ourself off and find our way forward,” he said.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo neighbourhoods asked to show the love in front windows

READ ALSO: Hearts of Vancouver Island campaign spreading message of love and unity

READ ALSO: Nanoose Bay man forges hearts for his community

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