This month’s roundup of news from the independent hotel sector includes: new Catskills hotel faces 100% vacancy after February debut; some hotels determined to still open; people on the move; and more.
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How COVID-19 took a toll on new Catskills boutique hotel
Much like the branded hotels, boutiques are facing many challenges as business is halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Conde Nast Travel looked at one boutique hotel that soft-opened in February, just before coronavirus hit hard in the U.S. The property is now vacant.
Gregory Henderson and his husband and business partner Joseph Massa soft-opened their second boutique hotel in the Catskills with The Roxbury at Stratton Falls. They saw future bookings begin to decline in February and knew it was because of more than just a slow ski season.
“By early March, I was certain things were slowing down. Then on 13 March, a light switch went off. Everything changed. The reservations completely stopped and we were faced with 100% cancellations for late March and April. We still have May bookings on the calendar, but residents of New York City are our bread and butter. How can what’s happening there be finished by then?” Henderson said.
He also told The New York Times that from a business perspective, it’s the “scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”
Dubbel Dutch boutique still plans for June debut
While many hotels are being forced to close during the pandemic, the Milwaukee Business Journal reports the 17-room Dubbel Dutch independent boutique hotel still plans to open in June 2020. The hotel, which will be in Milwaukee’s historic Charles A. Koeffler Jr. House, was originally scheduled to open in May.
The development team has kept the project in motion while still putting human health first by limiting work to essential functions, according to Andy Braatz, one of the developers.
Independent Lodging Industry Association steps in
Forbes reports that the Independent Lodging Industry Association is finding ways to communicate with former guests as well as staff during this time of uncertainty.
The association is emailing and texting staff advising them to take vacation hours and other time-off allotments as well as to apply for unemployment insurance. It is also sending e-blasts to former guests advising them on availability of hotels and social-distancing activities.
“The major issue is, of course, no business and many independent hotels depend on weekly or monthly clients who are now out of jobs,” Bobbie Singh-Allen, executive director of the Independent Lodging Industry Association, told Forbes. “Thus, many of them moved on so their rooms are empty. They also had to lay off housekeepers and others. Conversely, there are a couple of hotels in smaller rural markets that depend on truckers, so they surprisingly have been okay, if they are under 30-40 rooms.”
Openings, management, people on the move
- Amarillo, Texas, is set to debut its first boutique hotel on 23 July as an Autograph Collection. It will feature 112 guestrooms.
- The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park in El Paso, Texas, held a “digital soft launch” on 10 April following a two-year renovation. The property is waiting to officially reopen after Texas’ shelter-in-place order is lifted.
- Proper Hospitality’s new brand Hotel June is expected to open this summer. The brand was originally set to debut in April but was pushed back because of COVID-19.
- Meghan Keyes and Anne Koller have been named house managers for the 17-room Dubbel Dutch hotel expected to open this June in Milwaukee.
Compiled by Dana Miller.