April 15, 2020

Nassau Inn, Other Hotels Provide Free Rooms For First Responders

By Anne Levin

With doctors, nurses, and other first responders working around the clock to fight the coronavirus, many hotel chains and independent hostelries are offering free accommodations to health care workers needing a place to stay that is close to medical facilities, and allows them to isolate from their families.

Among them is the Nassau Inn. First responders began checking in to the hotel on Palmer Square over a week ago, and rooms are currently booked through the next month. “We won’t have a good idea of how many medical personnel take advantage of the offer this early on,” said the hotel’s General Manager Lori Rabon in an email. “However we do hope to accommodate as many people from the (Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center) hospital as need it.”

This isn’t the first time the Nassau Inn has provided free rooms for responders. “Historically the hotel team has found ways to give back to the community during crises, such as during Hurricane Sandy and other storms,” said Rabon. “We wanted to be able to help in any way possible during such an unprecedented time.”

A handful of other guests are currently staying at the hotel. The staff has been sanitizing the building on a regular basis since learning of the potential threat of COVID-19. “We’ve instituted additional cleaning and disinfecting protocols for our guest rooms and public spaces,” Rabon said. “Even on the days that the hotel has no guests in house, we adhere to our stringent disinfecting protocols.”

Shields to create a barrier between the front desk and guests checking in and out have been built, and staff now wear facial coverings. “All have been thoroughly trained on proper hygiene and social distancing,” Rabon said. “The health and well-being of the hotel guests and staff is our top priority.”

The Marriott hotel chain has committed to provide $10 million worth of stays for health care professionals working to fight the virus. The initiative, called Rooms for Responders, provides free rooms in some of the areas most impacted including New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Newark. Calls to the Princeton Marriott at Forrestal to determine whether it is part of the program were not returned.

Marriott collaborated with the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association to match doctors and nurses with free accommodations at participating hotels. Support came from American Express and JPMorgan Chase. American Express is also sponsoring a similar program with Hilton, which is offering approximately one million room nights nationwide for health care workers during the pandemic, through May 31. The Hilton Garden Inn in Lawrenceville is among the participating local hotels.

According to forbes.com, more than 15,000 hotels have signed up for a new initiative called “Hospitality for Hope,” which matches emergency and health care workers with hotel properties that have offered to provide temporary housing as the COVID-19 public health crisis grows. Organized by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), the program will primarily focus on housing for the health care community, but some hotels could potentially be used as “Alternative Care Sites” such as an emergency hospital or place for those quarantined to stay if needed.