COVID-19: MGM closings | S. Korea recovery?

MGM shutting down Vegas: MGM Resorts International announced Sunday it is temporarily suspending operations at all Las Vegas properties “until further notice” effective Tuesday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Casino operations are set to close Monday, followed by hotel operations. The company will not be taking reservations prior to May 1. The Las Vegas-based company operates the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor, New York-New York, Excalibur, and Park MGM. It also owns 50% of CityCenter, which includes Aria and Vdara. The announcement came shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance Sunday recommending organizers cancel or postpone in-person events with more than 50 people in the U.S. for the next 8 weeks. MGM is also temporarily closing its MGM Northfield Park property in Ohio and its casinos in Maryland and Massachusetts. Other Las Vegas properties, including Caesars Entertainment Corp., Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Boyd Gaming Corp., told the Review-Journal they have no plans to close their Nevada casinos at this time.

Read Las Vegas Review-Journal report

Portugual losses could near U.S.$900M by June: Hotels in Portugual, already reeling from coronavirus-related cancellations, are bracing for more losses in the wake of U.S.-imposed travel restrictions from Europe. Since the beginning of March, more than 41% of hotels in the country had reported cancellations, according to Reuters. The AHP hotels association said the hotel sector in the tourism-dependent country could lose 30% to 50% of its revenues, or up to €800 million (US$892 million), from March to June. The association added that U.S. travel restrictions will likely make things worse, since North America is a major feeder market for Portugual. In Lisbon, major municipal buildings and museums have been closed, as have schools and universities where students or teachers have tested positive. 

Meanwhile, representatives of CR7, Portuguese football star star Cristiano Ronaldo’s hotels, denied reports that the hotels would be transformed into makeshift hospitals during the country’s coronavirus crisis.  

Read Reuters’ story 

Ray of hope from Asia: South Korean health authorities announced that Friday, March 13, marked the first day that the number of individuals who have recovered from coronavirus outnumbered new cases, a good sign that the pandemic may be slowing. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 110 new coronavirus cases on Friday compared with 114 a day earlier, raising the national tally to 7,979.

Read the press release

Caribbean hotels humming, for now: The cruise numbers have plummeted, but resorts in the Caribbean have managed to stay busy even as coronavirus has disrupted travel across the globe. According to a story in the Washington Post, guest numbers at hotels and resorts are dipping less or holding steady, thanks to high season business. Scott MacDonald, chief economist for the Caribbean at Smith’s Research and Gradings, said real GDB growth for the region this year would likely fall short of the projected 3.7%; he suggested 2% might be possible, but added that it’s still too soon to call. Operators in some parts of the Caribbean are reporting big drops in advance bookings, but others have seen only a minor decline so far. The next few months hinge on how much travel continues to be restricted.

Read the story

How one Mandarin Oriental hopes to keep staff employed: Mandarin Oriental in Boston is offering room service, spa treatments and housekeeping as usual amid a slump in guests triggered by the coronavirus. The difference? It’s sending staffers within a 2-mile radius to deliver hotel meals, provide spa services and clean homes. House cleaning starts at US$75 per hour and couples massages are offered for US$525, the hotel said. GM Philipp Knuepfer declined to say how much bookings have dropped off but said, “Hopefully we can give back both to the community and also to our team.”

Read the story in Boston Magazine 


Spain and France followed Italy in announcing emergency restrictions: In Spain, people are banned from leaving home except for buying essential supplies and medicines, or for work. In France, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and most shops are shut. The World Health Organization says that Europe is now the epicenter of the virus.

The U.S. said it would suspend travel to Ireland and the United Kingdom effective March 16 at midnight; Americans and legal residents abroad in those countries can return home. Earlier last week, the Trump administration announced that travel to the U.S. from 26 European countries will be restricted for 30 days; on March 13, the president declared a national emergency. 

Princess Cruises said it will voluntarily suspend global operations of its 18 cruise ships for two months.

About 50 Polish tourists were among guests quarantined at the Salamis Bay Conti hotel in northern Cyprus after a German woman at the resort was diagnosed with coronavirus.

New York City hotels are instituting sanitization programs according to guidelines issued by the Hotel Association of New York City. The association says hotels should follow standard flu prevention measures including regular cleaning of public areas, training of employees on disease prevention practices, daily cleaning and checking of occupied guest rooms and safe F&B practices.

Tour operator TUI AG halted prepayments and suspended contracts with some hotels to survive the travel industry downturn caused by coronavirus, the Financial Times reported. Operators in Spain and Greece said TUI has approached a number of hotels to invoke “force majeure” clauses in contracts and temporarily stop payments.