COVID-19: Ashford cuts staff | Schrager sends message

Unsurprising February results from Asia Pac

Hotels in Asia Pacific reported a significant decline in occupancy but fairly steady room rates during February 2020, according to data from STR. In U.S. dollar constant currency, February 2020 vs. February 2019, occupancy decline 37.7% to 41.2%; ADR increased .9% to US$107.35; and RevPAR was off -36.5% to US$44.27. China’s occupancy dropped 75.9% to an absolute level of 14%. Also of note, Singapore was down 46.9% to 46.4%; South Korea dropped 30.0% to 42.7%; and Japan fell 22.4% to 64.7%. At the market-level, Sanya’s occupancy plummeted 89.8% to 7.8%. Shanghai was down 82% to 9.7%. Hong Kong fell 73.0% to 24%. 

 Ashford CEO: 95% of staff laid off

Monty Bennett, CEO of Ashford, told CBS Moneywatch that he has laid off or furloughed 95% of his 7,000 employees to save cash because of the hit from COVID-19. Ashford owns or operates 130 properties in the U.S. Bennett said about one-third of the company’s salaried staff has been permanently let go.

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Ian Schrager: stay positive

Iconic hotelier Ian Schrager posted a video on Instagram urging the industry to stay positive and use the time to “rethink and reconsider everything” about hospitality. “I’m working from home and making sure to stay healthy; it’s a great time for reenergizing and rethinking and taking time to reconsider everything,” said Schrager, who encouraged the industry to look ahead. “We have been through a lot together and it will pass; things will return to normal. People are more important than businesses and we will get the business back and we will be going back and doing everything that we love to do – which is to create the best hotels in the world,” he said.

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STR performance for U.S., Europe, Africa, Middle East

In what’s likely the last bit of positive news for a while, STR reported a gain in U.S. hotel performance in February. In the final month before the impact of COVID-19 affected data, STR reported year-over-year gains in occupancy, up 0.2%; ADR rose 1.4% and RevPAR was up 1%… European hotel performance was down year-over-year on two of three key metrics. Occupancy fell 1.8%, ADR rose 1.2% and RevPAR fell 0.6%… In the Middle East and Africa, in the same period, year-over-year hotel performance was mixed to negative, STR reported. The three main metrics for Middle East hotels fell, with occupancy down 3%, ADR down 10% and RevPAR down 13%. In Africa, occupancy slipped by 0.4%, ADR rose 1.4% and RevPAR gained 1.0%. The firm noted February data did not fully show the effects of COVID-19 on performance.  STR: Mostly negative performance by European hotels in February

S. Florida occupancy falls to 20%

Occupancy rates in in the Miami-Dade County area’s 469 hotels are hovering around 20% this week, down from 90% last week, according to the Miami Herald. The area has about 150,000 rooms. Chris Rollins, CEO of South Beach Group Hotels, said in the story that he anticipates having to close hotels as early as this week and furlough 1,000 employees. The largest hotel in Broward County, the 1,000-room Diplomat Beach Resort, will be fully closed by this weekend.

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RIU closes three Jamaican resorts

Spanish hotel operator RIU is closing three hotels as of Thursday: RIU Palace Jamaica, RIU Negril, and RIU Montego Bay, laying off 1,000 workers. So far RIU’s other locations, RIU Ocho Rios, RIU Reggae (Montego Bay), and RIU Tropical Bay in Negril remain open, but the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper said it is possible those locations will shutter, too. Iberostar is expected to also close one of its hotels by the end of the week.

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Indian hospitality group seeks relief

Trade group Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism Hospitality appealed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a 12-month moratorium on debt payments and a tax holiday, and asks for a doubling of working capital limits in order to prevent insolvency. The group also asked the government to create a fund for 12 months to help pay affected tourism employees, among other measures, to help the industry, laid low by the COVID-19 virus.

China travel showing signs of life

There are two positive signs for China’s travel industry. Bloomberg reports that hotel bookings in the week to March 1 surged 40% from the previous week, while peak daily bookings for domestic flights soared 230% from the lowest level recorded in February, citing data from online travel company Tongcheng-Elong Holdings, Meanwhile, Shiji Distribution Solutions points out its China Room Nights Booked Index is rising and is up 8.5% in the past 27 days since the infection rate peaked on February 17.

Read Bloomberg’s story and Shiji Distribution’s story

Millennium housing package for students

The Bostonian Boston, a Millennium Hotels and Resorts property, launched a campaign to house university students and faculty displaced by campus closings. The University Housing Package includes a king or two double-bed accommodations, free breakfast and high-speed Wi-Fi, and discounts to the hotel’s surrounding restaurants.

Sage suspends operations at some locations

Sage Hospitality Group said Thursday it is suspending business operations at some of its locations, although the group did not list which properties it would close. Sage said many of its restaurants continue to operate as a carryout and delivery service.


Crescent manages DoubleTree: Crescent Hotels & Resorts is now managing the 378-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina, Crescent said Wednesday. The hotel is a 10-minute drive from University of California Berkeley and has more than 14,000 square feet of event space, with 24 meeting rooms.

Contributed by Debbie Carlson