As coronavirus cancels business trips and vacations across the nation, the hotel industry is taking a hit, with an estimated loss of $3.5 billion per week in room revenue, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
“Nobody saw this coming, and it came on like a hurricane, but without any…advanced warning, and so the industry is devastated,” said Boston real estate developer and hotelier Richard Friedman while speaking with Emily Rooney on Greater Boston Thursday. “And so it’s a disastrous situation for the owners, [and] it’s really disastrous for the workers.”
In the Boston/Cambridge area, some 18,000 hotel workers have been laid off, according to the Massachusetts Lodging Association.
“There’s some relief that people are getting from some lenders, but the government has not done enough for the hotel industry,” he contended.
He said that two of the hotels he developed — the Charles Street Hotel in Cambridge and the Liberty Hotel in Boston — had some health workers or first responders staying in their rooms, and that the Four Seasons Hotel at One Dalton Street has had some guests who were staying in Boston for medical treatment.
“You can’t take a reservation,” Friedman explained, noting Governor Baker’s statewide order that closed hotels for leisure purposes, only allowing them to house frontline workers and displaced people.
“We’ve stayed open for people who — nurses or doctors — who want to stay a night, or something like that,” Friedman said. “Sometimes these workers in the hospital are working so hard, they don’t want to go home to their family in Lowell, or wherever they live, and they’ve been in Intensive Care all day long, and they want to stay in the hotel and be safe and be close to work. So those are the kinds of people [we have]. But it hasn’t been as much of those people as we had expected, frankly.”