Following several earthquakes in southern and central Mexico, hoteliers share their experiences and their assessments of the damage.
GLOBAL REPORT—Five days after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico, rescue crews are still searching for and pulling out survivors from collapsed structures throughout the region.
This quake came two weeks after an 8.4-magnitude earthquake in the more rural southern Mexico. Two more earthquakes on Saturday—with magnitudes of 6.1 and 4.5—shook the southern Mexico town of Matias Romero, about 275 miles southeast of Mexico City, and the city of Oaxaca.
The main priority for everyone at this point is trying to save as many lives as possible, said Richard Katzman, a managing director for HVS based in Mexico City. He called the collaborative rescue efforts between the government and civilians “absolutely inspiring.”
Meanwhile, in the coming days, there will be more time for deeper assessments of property damage, he said. At the moment, Katzman said he is not aware of major damage to any of Mexico City’s hotels. By HVS’ pre-quake estimate, the city had 251 hotels with more than 32,000 rooms, he said, which includes international and national brands as well as independents. There might some minor damage to buildings, he said, but nothing major has been reported at this time.
In fact, most of Mexico City’s structures fared well, with many of its taller buildings remaining intact, Katzman said. The country updated its building code after a devastating earthquake in 1985, he said. The city was founded on a lake bed that was drained over 300 years, and several of the rivers that once ran through the area have been drained as well. As a result, the soil in the old downtown area was in poor condition for buildings not built to the newer code, he said. The parts of the city built into the valley rest on more solid bedrock.
It will be important over time to make sure people keep visiting the country by helping them to understand that it is safe, Katzman said.
“This is an industry built over several decades,” he said. “It’s basically sound.”
For a clearer picture of the impact that the earthquakes have had so far on the hotel industry, Hotel News Now reached out to companies with properties in the affected regions.
FibraHotel announced in a company statement that it has made a security inspection to all of its hotels resulting from the earthquake in Mexico. According to the statement: “The preliminary results from the inspection were: (i) no significant impact to associates or hotel guests, (ii) no structural damage to properties, with only material damages in some hotels which we are reviewing in more detail, and (iii) 78 of its hotels are operating and one hotel is currently not in operation. FibraHotel has insurance coverage in all of its hotels including property insurance against earthquakes and business interruption insurance.”
Mexican company Posadas, with more than 155 hotels located throughout Mexico, said in a statement that it is still assessing the condition of one of its hotels, Fiesta Americana San Antonio el Puente, located in Morelos, but the rest continue to operate normally.
According to the statement: “Posadas and its brands Live Aqua, Grand Fiesta Americana, Fiesta Americana, Fiesta Inn, Gamma, One Hoteles and The Explorean by Fiesta Americana, report that, following the earthquake that took place on September 19 … the company carried out all the corresponding security protocols recommended by civil protection authorities for the safety of all guests, clients and staff members. Likewise, we confirm that the hotels in the affected areas continue to operate normally, except for Fiesta Americana San Antonio el Puente, located in the State of Morelos. Authorities are currently conducting the corresponding assessments to be able to determine the actual state of this property. The safety of all our guests, clients and staff members is a top priority for Posadas; therefore, we will continue monitoring the reports and recommendations issued by civil protection to communicate and apply them immediately if necessary. We express our support and solidarity to all affected families.”
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Four Seasons Hotel Mexico issued a statement saying that “at Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, the safety, security and comfort of our guests and employees is our top priority. The hotel is open for business and fully operational.”
Hilton said in a statement that reports indicate all Hilton properties in Puebla and Mexico City are open and did not sustain any significant damage as a result of the earthquake that occurred on 19 September approximately five miles from Puebla and 76 miles from Mexico City. Hotel teams immediately implemented emergency procedures and collaborated with local authorities.
“Hilton continues to pledge its full commitment to helping the communities impacted by the earthquake and has activated its Hilton Responds donation campaign to support relief efforts,” the company stated.
Marriott International issued a statement: “The Le Méridien Mexico City has sustained some damage as a result of the recent earthquake and remains closed until further notice. All other Marriott International properties are open. All guests and associates are accounted for, and there are no reported injuries at this time.”
Hyatt Hotels Corporation
In a statement issued Thursday, Hyatt officials said the company’s properties in the region avoided damage from the quake.
“Our heartfelt thoughts are with all of those impacted by the devastating earthquake that occurred near Mexico City on Tuesday,” the statement reads. “For Hyatt, the safety and well-being of our guests and colleagues is a top priority, and fortunately, we have no reported incidents. We have been in direct communication with all Hyatt hotels in Mexico, and they are fully operational. Additionally, we are proud of the efforts from Hyatt Regency Merida and Hyatt Regency Mexico City, which have opened their doors in their respective communities as donation centers for personal care and first-aid supplies.”
Wyndham Hotel Group
A Wyndham Hotel Group spokesman issued a statement saying “communication remains a challenge in some areas” affected both by the earthquakes in Mexico and Hurricane Maria.
“Our hearts go out to all those who have been impacted by Hurricane Maria and the devastating earthquake (near) Mexico City. While damages are still being assessed … at this time, we know of only a few closures across our nearly 20 hotels in both regions with no reports of injuries. We continue to monitor the situation closely. In the meantime, cancellation policies have been relaxed, and we are encouraging any travelers with questions about existing reservations or in need of additional assistance to contact our Customer Care team at 1-800-407-9832. The safety of guests and staff remains our top priority.
“The events of the past month have brought unprecedented devastation to areas so many members of our extended Wyndham family love and call home. As we continue supporting our associates and their loved ones through these difficult times, we encourage members of Wyndham Rewards to consider assisting in relief efforts by donating points to Save the Children. Donations can be made with as few as 50 points, and Wyndham will match all donations—up to a total of 5 million points—through the end of October.”
Teri Merritt, VP of marketing at Trust Hospitality, said in an email that the company’s one Mexico property, the Hotel La Posada in Guadalajara, Mexico, “was not impacted by the earthquake.”
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HNN staff members Bryan Wroten and Stephanie Ricca contributed to this report.