San Antonio couple books Ukraine rental to show support for hosts during Russian invasion

The Castillos have booked the rental in Kyiv until Tuesday, but they don’t plan to use it for themselves.

SAN ANTONIO — A San Antonio couple are showing their support for Ukraine by booking a rental through Airbnb in hopes their purchase will keep a local host’s business going during the Russian invasion.

Zachariah and Mariana Castillo have booked the rental in Kyiv until Tuesday, but they don’t plan to use it for themselves.

“Obviously we didn’t check in and just let the host know that we have their backs and are thinking of them,” Mariana Castillo said.

The couple work in real estate and own an Airbnb on the west side of town near Seaworld. Castillo said she knows what it’s like to manage a vacation rental — occupied or not. The pandemic has sometimes proven difficult for the vacation rental industry.

“I know what it’s like to go months and months without getting any income from it,” she said. “So after seeing a post from my friend Brooklyn about this, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s such a great idea! because you know, these business owners lost everything so suddenly, and supporting them through real estate was important to me.

She encourages others to consider using the vacation rental site to show support for hosts in the beleaguered country. For their three-night reservation, the couple paid around $127, which represents a discount as Airbnb is temporarily waiving additional fees for stays in Ukraine.

“There are three councils [I suggest] is to make sure they are a local [person] and it’s not a business, so you know the money will go straight to them. The second thing to do would be to look for a non-refundable reservation, which means you’re ready to book it, cancel it, and the owner still gets the money. The third thing to do is send them a nice message and let them know you’re thinking of them,” she said.

Airbnb is also doing its part to support Ukraine. According to the company’s website, they are funding short-term housing for up to 100,000 people fleeing Ukraine. Hosts everywhere can help by offering free or discounted temporary stays through their website. People can also make a donation to finance stays.

For the hosts who stay to manage their rentals, the Castillos hope their money will help keep business afloat.

“I would like [rent another Airbnb] and encourage anyone to do so.

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