Nechako Housing Commons front desk and lobby at UBC Okanagan

Our Conferences and Accommodation (C&A) departments, in the Okanagan and Vancouver, operate substantial conference planning and visitor accommodation businesses, with peak season between May and August each year.

This month, we connected with Tash Reynolds, Tony Tsu and Ria Natividad to learn more about the accommodation side of the business, which sees an average of roughly 58,000 room nights per year for short-term, hotel and hostel accommodation—with a total of about 260,000 room nights per year, including bookings related to groups and conferences.

Tash Reynolds

Tash Reynolds

Associate Director, Accommodation

C&A Okanagan

Tony Tsu

Tony Tsu

Marketing and Business Development Manager

C&A Vancouver

Ria Natividad

Ria Natividad

Director, Groups

C&A Vancouver

The Q&A

Can you tell us about the accommodation operation on your campus?

Tash: In the Okanagan, we offer short-term guest accommodation during the summer months, when most students have moved off-campus. Our Monashee and Nechako buildings are available for customers seeking hotel-style accommodations and the Cascade Quads serve as a space for longer-term accommodation related to group bookings.

With over 235 available units and 386 beds total for hotel-style accommodation, we offer a variety of room types, from double rooms to 1-bedrooms to family suites. Typical prices, depending on the room type and month, range from $85 to $245 per night. Our hotel guests receive access to the new fitness room in the Nechako building.

Tony: In Vancouver, the West Coast Suites guest accommodation is open year-round, with studio and one-bedroom hotel rooms available. During the summer, we also operate a seasonal hotel called Gage Suites and the Pacific Spirit Hostel. Pacific Spirit Hostel rooms typically start at $85, while hotel room rates start at $269 and up, during the summer.

This summer, we’re excited to launch an initiative with UBC Athletics and Recreation where our guests can purchase an exclusive fitness and aquatics combo pass, which gives them access to nearby fitness facilities and the UBC Aquatic Centre.

Nechako Housing Commons

Nechako Housing Commons, UBC Okanagan

q̓əlɬaləməcən leləm̓ (Orca House)

q̓əlɬaləməcən leləm̓ (Orca House), UBC Vancouver

How has the opening of new residence buildings on your campus changed the hotel operation?

Tash: With the opening of Skeena residence in 2020 and, more recently, Nechako Housing Commons in 2021—which includes a beautiful new lobby, front desk and residence dining hall—we were able to add an additional 360 beds to our summer accommodation inventory. This summer, we also added double beds to the Nechako units, enabling us to sell these as double instead of single rooms and opening up a different option for clients traveling as a couple.

Tony: The opening of tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ student residence—with q̓əlɬaləməcən leləm̓ (Orca House) almost entirely dedicated to hotel accommodation—was really beneficial, both for our operation and as a service for the UBC community.

Previously, between September and April, we only had 47 hotel rooms available. q̓əlɬaləməcən leləm̓ added 196 rooms which we can now use during the Winter Session as hotel and Commuter Student Hostel rooms, plus for smaller conferences, groups and events that we weren’t previously able to host year-round.

Gage Signature suite

Visitor accommodation at UBC Vancouver

Okanagan room

Visitor accommodation at UBC Okanagan

What typically attracts visitors to stay with us?

Tash: Our location in Kelowna is a huge draw. Being so close to the airport and within 20 minutes of either Lake Country or downtown Kelowna makes the UBCO campus central to many things. Local events, major tournaments and Kelowna tourism attract guests from all across the country.

Plus, our price point compared to other accommodation in the Okanagan is hard to beat. Our strong Tripadvisor and ratings also help, and we also see a lot of repeat stays from year to year.

Tony: We get a lot of visitors who stay with us due to a connection with UBC—guests attending an on-campus event or conference, visiting faculty or administrators, or friends and family of a UBC student.

But tourism plays a big part as well, especially during the summer. Hotel prices in Vancouver are very high, and we’re able to provide a more economical option. Plus, the beauty of campus is a big draw for those who want to stay in a quiet, serene, green environment.

Local events, such as the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, also bring in plenty of visitors. And in recent years, citywide events, like conferences, concerts, sporting events or busy cruise ship weekends can also have a positive impact on our bookings.

How do bookings look for the upcoming summer?

Tash: Bookings this summer look very strong, with a number of sold out weekends in July and August. We also anticipate the upcoming changes to BC’s short-term rental regulations to make a positive impact on our short-term accommodation bookings.

Tony: For this summer, we are currently seeing reasonable revenue growth over previous years.

Chan Centre Lobby

Conference attendees in the lobby of UBC’s Chan Centre

Besides hotel bookings, what are some of the top conferences, groups or camps we’re hosting this summer?

Tash: We’re hosting nearly 70 groups at UBC Okanagan this summer. A few of the notable ones are:

  • Wildfire Coexistence in BC: Solutions Symposium
  • Indigenous Summer Scholars and Leadership Camps
  • Okanagan Heat Hoop Fest
  • University of Calgary Dinos Women’s soccer
  • Banff International Research Station workshops

Ria: In Vancouver, we typically host over 200 groups and conferences each summer, with attendee numbers ranging from 20 attendees to over 1,000 delegates and participants. This summer, we’re hosting:

  • Local and international programs and courses from UBC faculties, such as Education, Medicine, and Land and Food Systems
  • UBC Extended Learning programs: in particular, the Vancouver Summer Program and Future Global Leaders
  • Annual international summer language and educational camps at Totem Park residence
  • A brand-new camp from Tamwood International College at Place Vanier
  • Sport tournaments, such as the Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet and the BC Rugby Provincial Regional Championships
  • BC Summer Swimming Association provincial championships are back—last held at UBC in 2002

Plus, some notable academic conferences we’re hosting on behalf of UBC professors are:

  • Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution annual meeting
  • National Association of Law Student Affairs Professionals Conference
  • International Symposium on Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering

What is the Commuter Student Hostel?

Tash: Our Commuter Students’ Hostel, which opened in late-2023 and is located in Nicola residence, offers students who don’t live in residence affordable overnight accommodation during the Winter Session, if they need to stay on-campus, typically to participate in on-campus activities, for an early morning exam or in the case of bad weather. The cost of a room is just $35 per night (2023/24 rate).

Tony: In Vancouver, the Commuter Student Hostel similarly offers students who live off-campus affordable overnight accommodation if they need to stay on-campus for a night or two. Formerly located in the Walter Gage residence, rooms are now located in q̓əlɬaləməcən leləm̓ and are available between September and April for $69 per night (2023/24 rate).

How does C&A factor into local or provincial emergency plans?

Tash: Each year, we reserve several hundred beds as emergency accommodation for wildfire personnel. We typically allocate a building that is not being used for summer student residence or group accommodation, rather than unused conference guest spaces, in case we need to accommodate wildfire personnel when we are fully booked for a conference.

Ria: While we haven’t ever needed to pre-reserve a set block of beds for emergency use, like they do in the Okanagan, there have been instances when UBC Safety and Risk Services has requested beds for wildfire evacuees who needed temporary accommodations. The Provincial government has also previously reached out to book a large volume of contingency spaces. To date, we have always been able to provide the requested support.

Can SHCS staff receive a discount on bookings?

Tash: Yes! We offer a discount on UBC Okanagan accommodation that UBC and SHCS staff can use for family and friends from out of town—or for UBC Vancouver staff travelling to the Okanagan. To find out the current discount and make a booking, staff can contact us at or 250 807 8050.

Tony: In Vancouver, we offer 20% off our standard best available rates for SHCS staff to use for family and friends from out of town—or for Okanagan SHCS staff travelling to Vancouver. Staff can book by contacting our reservations office at or 604 822 1000.