The first “capsule” or pod hotel in the Lower Mainland is getting ready to open its doors in Richmond.
Panda Pod Hotel, located on No. 3 Road near Granville Avenue, hosted an opening celebration on Tuesday, offering a first glimpse of its unique sleeping quarters.
Sharon Cheung, CEO of Panda Pod Hotel, said Richmond was selected because of its convenient location for travelers.
“It’s close to the airport, it’s central, there’s a lot of facilities in the area, a lot of restaurants, there’s a lot of shopping opportunities, the outlet mall’s right here, so it’s perfect for travelers to have a good stop here,” she said.
The hotel, which only allows guests aged 18 and older, aims to provide convenient accommodation at affordable rates. The catch, however, is that guests must be willing to spend the night in a “sleeping pod.”
These sleeping pods, which are stacked two high, are divided into male and female dorms and are just large enough for a mattress and a small side table that comes from the wall. They have hooks to hang clothes, adjustable ventilation and a privacy screen to pull down over the entrance. Each guest is also given access to shared washrooms and a place to store luggage.
Already, Cheung said they’ve had interest from both investors and travelers.
“Two nights ago we got about 20 calls between 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and we’re not even open yet,” she said, suspecting that the influx of calls may have been due to a delayed flight.
Those eager to stay at the pod hotel will have to wait at least a few more days, however, as construction is still underway and the women’s dorm is not yet complete. Even so, Cheung says they will open “hopefully next week.”
Capsule hotels are popular in Asia, especially in Japan where they first took off. However, Panda Pod Hotel says their pods are designed to be 30 per cent longer and wider than their Japanese counterparts.
“We share some core interests (with Japanese pod hotels), which means that we try to keep things basic,” she said. “A lot of travelers just want a place to crash and they want to spend their time and money and energy exploring and that’s what we’re trying to accommodate.
“If you compare our pods with the Japanese pods, I would say that we are much bigger to suit the North American guests.”
The hotel is offering a special introductory rate of $49 for stays until the end of May and prices on Booking.com show the cost of a one-night stay in a pod to be around $70 before taxes in June. Cheung said they are also working on a pair and group rate.
“We want to stay competitive in the market for groups,” she said.
Canada’s first pod hotel, Pangea Pod, opened in Whistler last year in the hopes of offering more affordable accommodation at the renowned ski resort. There, for a single person, pods can be as low as $60 for one weeknight during the spring or reach up to $180 for a weekend night over the winter.