Updated 12:26 Eastern Daylight Savings Time, 27 August with information from Choice Hotels International.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hoteliers along the Gulf Coast are anxiously monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac as it continues its west-northwestward march into the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm is predicted to hit the coast Wednesday as a Category 2 hurricane with wind speeds up to 110 mph.
Having largely bypassed Florida, Tropical Storm Isaac is picking up speed as it bears down on hoteliers along the Gulf Coast. Hurricane warnings have been issued from just east of Morgan City, Louisiana, to Destin, Florida. This includes New Orleans, Biloxi, Mississippi, Gulf Shores, Alabama, Pensacola Beach, Florida, and the Destin/Ft. Walton Beach area. Hurricane watches are now posted as far west as Morgan City, Louisiana, which is approximately 70 miles west of New Orleans.
“Hilton Worldwide is pleased to confirm that its properties in the Caribbean, Florida Keys and South Florida remain open and operational and did not sustain any physical damage as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac. Our hotels in the New Orleans area and Gulf are monitoring Isaac’s path and have implemented their hurricane procedures,” the company said in a statement.
“Marriott International, Inc. and The Ritz-Carlton continue to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac and have begun taking the appropriate precautions in areas that may be affected by the storm. As always, the safety and security of our guests and employees is a top priority,” Marriott said in a statement.
Wyndham Hotels Group’s Wingate by Wyndham Biloxi/D‘Iberville in D‘Iberville, Mississippi, and its Whitney Wyndham Hotel in New Orleans both remain open and operational, spokeswoman Kathryn Zambito said.
The Biloxi property is “putting plans into place to prepare for the storm, which includes removing all exterior pool furniture and waste receptacles (anything that can be turned into a projectile by the wind), preparing an emergency generator and extra fuel supplies, setting aside rooms for staffing needs and they are planning to keep most of the first floor rooms vacant. They will keep a close eye on the path of the storm and direction from local government and agencies to prepare further, as needed.”
Meanwhile, operators at the Whitney Wyndham “will continue to track the storm and follow directives from the Mayor’s office.” As of this morning, parishes to the west and south of the property have been ordered to evacuate.
Wyndham’s Travelodge in Gulf Shores, Alabama, has closed temporarily. The Days Inn Galliano in Louisiana is evacuating Monday and Tuesday.
The Super 8 in Covington, Louisiana, is evacuating by this morning, while the Slidell, Louisiana, property is evacuating this afternoon. The Super 8 in New Orleans remains open but is not taking reservations for the next few days.
Choice Hotels International’s Choice Cares team—the company’s disaster call center that coordinates communication and relief efforts with the chain’s more than 6,200 hotels worldwide—is hard at work, according to spokeswoman Sarah Lee. The team is busy monitoring the status among at-risk properties and has reported no closures throughout the portfolio as of Monday morning. The only measurable impact was felt at the Sleep Inn on the Beach in Orange Beach, Alabama, which has stopped taking reservations through Wednesday.
Republican National Convention delayed
Organizers for the 2012 Republican National Convention, which officially kicked off Sunday evening, as well as hoteliers in host city Tampa are scrambling to adjust after Tropical Storm Isaac forced much of Monday’s agenda to be cancelled, reported various media outlets.
A revised convention schedule shows a brief Monday session that Romney’s chief convention planner said would last no more than five minutes. Mitch Zak, media director of California’s delegation, said a lot of events were being reorganized because of the storm, reports The Washington Post.
Organizers said approximately 20,000 people were invited, but they were not certain how much the potential threat of Tropical Storm Isaac would discourage people from attending, the newspaper reported.
Hoteliers in the city were expecting a healthy bump in performance because of the event. Through July, Tampa hoteliers on average were reporting a 5.1% occupancy increase to 67.8%, a 4.9% increase in average daily rate to $102.71, and a 10.2% increase in revenue per available room to $69.63, according to STR, parent company of HotelNewsNow.com.