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NYC Hotels Embrace Gimmicks to Goose Demand with Travel Frozen

With coronavirus cases surging in parts of the U.S., a nascent lodging recovery is unraveling.

(Bloomberg)—Hotels are getting increasingly creative in their efforts to wring business out of the travel standstill.

The Hoxton hotel in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood will begin renting out entire floors for $2,020 a night when it reopens on July 20, for guests who want to “get the gang together.” The boutique brand, which is extending similar deals at outposts in London, Paris and elsewhere, is also offering a small number of “honesty rooms,” which allow guests to pay what they can afford.

A block away, the Wythe Hotel is partnering with office-sharing company Industrious to furnish private workspaces, complete with unlimited coffee, starting at $200 for a 10-hour day.

New York’s hotel industry has been battered since the pandemic shut down the U.S. economy in March, keeping most travelers at home. And now, with coronavirus cases surging in other parts of the U.S., a nascent lodging recovery in states including Florida and Texas is coming unraveled.

Resorts that travelers can reach by car were a bright spot for the nation’s lodging industry in recent weeks, as consumers who canceled vacations in the early months of the crisis flooded hotels in places like Panama City, Florida, and Biloxi, Mississippi.

But that trend has reversed itself. Hotel demand fell by 16% in South Carolina and 10% in Arizona over the past two weeks, according to data provider STR.

Across U.S. hotels, the average occupancy rate was 46% in the week through July 11, down from 74% from the same period of 2019.

“The sharp increase in Covid-19 cases has had, and will have, an impact on leisure demand,” said Jan Freitag, senior vice president at STR. “What is even more worrisome are the negative implications that the higher case count could have for corporate travel policies after Labor Day, when the traditional corporate meeting season starts.”

Big-city hotels aren’t the only ones trying new ways to lure customers.

In California, the Alila Ventana Big Sur has created an all-inclusive model, offering three meals a day as part of the room price, so guests don’t have to leave the premises. The St. Regis Aspen in Colorado is marketing “work-cations,” offering discounted rates for extended stays to work from the hotel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Clark in New York at [email protected].

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Giammona at [email protected]

Christine Maurus

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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