Recently a Czech hotel owner published a call on his Facebook page in a bid to highlight the true meaning of Christmas – offering free stays at his mountain hotel over the festive period to those who couldn’t afford it otherwise. The reaction triggered by the novel gesture has been enormous.
Alexander Bílek, who owns a small hotel in Špindlerův Mlýn, one of the country’s biggest skiing centres in the Krkonoše Mountains, has decided to make that dream come true for at least some of them. In a highly unusual move, he has offered people accommodation and board for free over the festive period.
I spoke to Mr Bílek over the phone just as the first guests started arriving to find out what drove him to do the good deed:
“It was a spontaneous idea. I have been running the hotel for 21 years and usually it would be at least half full over the Christmas season. But with this year’s mild winter, it looked like it would remain empty this year. And since we already had the staff here and the hotel and the food was ready anyway, we thought we could offer it to someone who might really need it. We thought that we would get a few reactions but we definitely didn’t expect anything like that.”
The owner of the Hromovka hotel posted his offer on Facebook on December 17. Over the next few days, he had over two million views and received over 5,000 emails.
Among those who responded were single mothers, people with relatives who are terminally ill, people who have lost their homes or those who are facing property seizure.
Since he couldn’t possibly read through all the stories, Mr. Bílek decided to take in the first 50 people. And since some of them couldn’t afford to pay for their journey, he has also contributed to their travel expenses.
Despite being in the red himself before the season begins, the hotelier insists that the extra expenditure won’t do him any harm:
“I don’t think it will be that expensive. We already have the beds, and I would have to pay my employees anyway. And the rest of the work will be done by me and my partner. So I think the expenses will be around 1,500 crowns per person. Of course normal guests would pay between eight to ten thousand crowns for their stay, but the costs are practically negligible.”
The story of the generous hotel owner has flooded the Czech media in recent days and Alexander Bílek doesn’t deny that it’s good publicity for his business. Nevertheless, he stresses that it really wasn’t the reason behind his decision.
As soon as the winter season is over and he has climbed into the black he plans to repeat his offer to accommodate those who are in need.
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