By Richard White, November 30, 2013
A good road trip is one that is filled with surprises - pleasant surprises! Recently, we had such surprise when we checked into the Motel 6 in none other than Moosomin, Saskatchewan (population 2,500) on the TransCanada Highway.
We arrived with no real expectations other than the online reviews were good and given we couldn’t find anything in Brandon and Virden didn’t seem much better, so I booked it online. The last thing you want on a winter road trip through the prairies in the “great white north” is to be stranded at -30 and discover there’s “no room at the inn.”
Immediately upon checking in we noticed something was different, very different. Marina, with her attractive northern European accent had a charming way about her (elegant and refined, yet down to earth and authentic) that was immediately infectious.
She was very professional in informing us about the various amenities including the workout room, guest laundry and the complementary 24/7 coffee/tea/hot chocolate bar.
Saskatchewan is a magnet!
With our encouragement, she shared a bit of her personal story as if we were family, telling us about her adventure moving to Saskatchewan from the Ukraine with her husband and two kids. She couldn’t hold-in how happy she was to live in Moosomin where “the sun shines most of the time, not like in the Ukraine” (although the day we arrived, it was cloudy, windy and freezing cold – the image most Canadians have of the prairies).
She also finds the “people are so friendly” not like in the Ukraine, where everyone wears a frown. She also shared with us how business in Ukraine are so corrupt and people are oppressed. We don’t know how lucky we are.
When asked “why Saskatchewan?” she said because she liked Canada more than the other places around the world she had visited and Saskatchewan made it easy to immigrate. She proceeded to tell us that the Motel 6 staff is like a mini United Nations with staff from Korea, Philippines, Honduras and of course, Ukraine. Who knew Moosomin was a magnet for new immigrants?
She loved Moosomin’s schools for her two children and both she and husband Roman Chernykh had been hired by Motel 6 owner Josef Tesar, himself an immigrant, from Czechoslovakia.
And the surprises didn’t stop at check-in. When we opened the door to our room arrived at our room we were nicely shocked to find a minimalist boutique hotel-like room (there is no art or photographs on the walls).
The floor looked like bamboo - we later found out it was made from recycled boxes. The pallet was white and burnt orange walls, with orange and taupe bedspread. A corner workstation with banquet seat that was perfect for my laptop, complete with mini fridge built into the wall above (convenient for a beer).
The bathroom was modern with a fun yellow, built-in towel holder that also served as a towel warmer and light. The flush-to-the-wall TV had an easy hook-up for an Xbox. This was certainly as nice as the any of the hotels we have stayed in recently in big urban centres!
When heading out for dinner, we ran into Roman, the General Manager. Just as friendly, he shared more of the story of the hotel. I quickly found out that it had won 3 green keys for being an environmentally-friendly construction including solar panels on the roof that resulted in heating bill of $50 in October for the 76-room hotel with 76 rooms.
He was proud that they had sourced as much of the materials locally as they could, including 80 televisions from the local Moosomin electronic dealer. (Back story – the storeowner was so shocked/excited by such a large order the order that he literally had a “heart attack” shortly afterwards and had to be taken by air ambulance to Regina).
He too loves the lifestyle that Moosomin offered him and his family (he also had travelled the world as a waiter on cruise ships). This unassuming family could well be THE poster family for Saskatchewan economic development and tourism.
No room at the motel
In the morning, when checking out, the front desk clerk greeted us with a bright smile, a “good morning” greeting and immediately directed us to the coffee and Tim Horton muffins. She too couldn’t be happier living and working in Moosomin. So much so, she willingly shared with us her story of immigrating from Korea with her husband and young child and has never looked back.
So, if ever in the area, consider an overnight stay in Moosomin, SK at the Motel 6 – you won’t be disappointed. But book ahead, word has gotten out about the hot property so sometimes “there is no room at the motel."
GM writes: Awesome tie!
DF writes: My girlfriend and I spent our summer vacation in Saskatchewan (Batoche between Saskatoon and Prince Albert, then south to the East block of Grasslands National Park, where we stayed in a tipi, then to a former convent in Val Marie in the West block). I’ve been to the Cypress Hills a couple of times, too. There’s much to be said for the prairies.
DB writes: read the article and saw the pics – charmingly modern for sure. Can see how you would have been surprised. Reminded me a little – at least interior design-wise, of a boutique hotel I stayed at in Frankfurt one time. Similar furniture and colour scheme. Piece had a Stuart McLean feel to it and that’s a compliment. Good to hear from new arrivals how good we have it here in Canada. Sometimes we just plain forget.
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