A pair of new hostel owners want their hostel to be a home away from home for international students.
Ashwani and Suroj Nagpal, of Linden Woods, held the grand opening of Hostel Royal Plaza, 330 Kennedy Street on July 5. The hostel, which was the HI Winnipeg Downtowner until last year, features a resturant, event hall, bar and lounge, and rooms starting at $29 a night.
The Nagpals, who already own a successful business, India Palace in the West End, decided to open a hostel after their children, Ankur and Neha, experienced being international students in Europe.
"Based on their own experience of their children studying abroad, they wanted to create a place where international students could come and feel very at home and have everything looked after for them," said Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director of the West End Business Improvement Zone. "It’s that personal touch that they wanted to give to the students."
Suroj said the hostel will provide guests with everything they’d need.
"We looked at our kids and that’s how we decided to go with this," she said.
The Nagpals immigrated to Winnipeg from India in 1978, where Ashwani was a cook at the former India Curry Hall on Broadway. Though they tried to live in Toronto and Vancouver, they fell in love with Winnipeg.
"I call him polar bear," said Suroj of her husband’s love of Winnipeg.
"Winnipeg is a friendly city, everyone you talk to," said Ashwani. "It’s small, you want to take the bus, you want to drive, anywhere you want to get to is close."
The Nagpals want to share their love of the city with visiting students.
"When the students come and then when they move out from here, I want them to take the feeling of Manitoba, the friendly city, how it is so nice here, how they were looked after," said Ashwani. "When they leave Winnipeg, they should remember, they should know that ‘this was the best city we studied, and the best place we stayed.’"
The Nagpals have also garnered some attention from their home province of Haryana, India.
"I get lots of calls from India," said Ashwani. "Parents are calling asking about when their children come. They are worried about two main problems: the living and the eating. Because in India, they are not used to doing the work. Here, kids do all the cooking at home, they help, from when they are born they are taught that. But in India, children sit at the table and their parents feed them. They feed them from being a baby, till they go to school, even if they have a baby they will still be fed like a baby."
"So we told (parents), this is a venture we started to help their children when they come."