With summer just around the corner, many cities within the U.S. are hoping to reopen for tourists sooner rather than later.
Among them—Miami Beach. On Friday, city commissioners agreed to begin reopening hotels and beaches beginning June 1, reported the Associated Press.
Florida began phase one of their reopening mid-May, with barbershops, hair salons and retail shops allowing customers back in. The state erred on the cautious side in regards to restaurants, not allowing their reopening until two days after Memorial Day.
Officials agreed to delay the reopening until after the long holiday weekend in the hopes of avoiding the large crowds it usually brings.
“We have to exercise some measure of caution because there is a natural tension between crowds and physical distancing,” Miami Beach Mayor Gelber said. “How do you manage that in a pandemic? The answer is carefully. We know that Memorial Day is a traditional time for everybody to go to the beach and if we saw hundreds of thousands of people on our beaches, it would be a disaster.”
Many other beaches up and down the state’s coast will likely soon follow suit. May 26 saw the reopening of Broward County beaches, and the Florida Keys have announced their reopening beginning June 1.
WHY IT RATES: Omni releases its post-COVID-19 reopening strategy, complete with a new sanitation and hygiene program, special booking deals, and updates on its charitable efforts and planned brand-expansion projects. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer
Omni Hotels & Resorts has officially rolled out its new Omni Safe & Clean program that includes extensive new cleaning guidelines, processes and procedures to ensure the health, safety and comfort of its guests and associates. The program follows the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and also meets or exceeds the “Stay Safe” initiative set forth by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Each Omni hotel and resort will adhere to local and/or federal mandates.
Last week, Omni proudly reopened the doors at six properties including Omni Jacksonville Hotel, Omni Amelia Island Resort, Omni Bedford Springs Resort, Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, Omni Hotel at The Battery Atlanta and Omni Austin Hotel Downtown. Additional re-openings scheduled for Thursday, May 21, in time for Memorial Day Weekend include Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Omni Frisco Hotel, Omni Interlocken Hotel, Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, Omni La Mansiòn del Rio, Mokara Hotel & Spa and Omni Tucson National Resort. For the most up-to-date information on hotel re-openings, visit the brand’s Travel Advisory page.
“COVID-19 has changed every facet of our world and the way we do business,” said Peter Strebel, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts. “Our commitment to service has never wavered, and now, with our new “Safe & Clean” guidelines, our guests and clients can rest assured we’re ready and prepared to safely and comfortably welcome them back when they’re ready to travel again.”
Like many hotel brands, Omni temporarily suspended operations at many of its properties across the country. Even with empty hotel rooms and closed doors, Omni was determined to demonstrate how the true meaning of hospitality transcends physical barriers. At a time when the world is being told to socially distance and physically stay apart from one another, Omni has launched its new “Stay A Part Of” campaign to encourage guests and associates to Stay A Part Of what matters most during this unprecedented time. The spirit of this campaign laid the foundation for Omni as its associates worked diligently to adapt traditional hotel operations for reopening in a post-COVID-19 world.
As Omni looks ahead and resumes operations at select properties, the brand is committed to Stay A Part Of Hospitality through various aspects:
—Stay A Part Of Safety: Through extensive collaboration with hospitality professionals, and in alignment with the recommendations provided by the CDC, Omni has developed new policies for its associates, implemented updated cleaning efforts and introduced social distancing measures to keep its guests and associates safe throughout all areas of the hotel. Details on all of the new measures implemented as part of the Omni Safe & Clean initiative are available HERE.
—Stay A Part Of Travel: To celebrate the joy of travel at recently reopened hotels, the brand is offering Select Guest members (or new members), a 30 percent discount on best available rates on new bookings made now through September 5, 2020, for stays now through September 12, 2020. Offer is subject to availability with more information located HERE.
—Stay A Part Of Hope: At Omni, every associate is a valued member of the Omni family. This core value is brought to life through Omni Circle, Omni’s associate charitable foundation. Omni Circle’s purpose is to assist associates who face extraordinary hardships including those whose lives have been affected by disasters, accidents and other emergencies. In just the last few weeks, Omni Circle has processed 1,800 applications and has distributed more than $2M to its associates impacted by COVID-19. This is more than double what the brand has distributed since the inception of Omni Circle in 2005.
—Stay A Part Of Community: In partnership with Feeding America, Omni helps provide one meal for every completed stay through its Say Goodnight to Hunger program. Omni is committed to helping local communities during these trying times, and donations will be doubled for any group bookings made throughout the summer months. All donations directly benefit food banks in the 42 communities where its 60 properties operate. To date, more than 18 million meals have been donated.
—Stay A Part Of Progress: Omni’s portfolio continues to expand with new properties in development including Omni Viking Lakes Hotel in Eagan, Minnesota (opening fall 2020), Omni Oklahoma City Hotel (opening 2021), Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport (opening 2021) and Omni PGA Frisco Resort in North Texas (opening 2022).
“Our new Stay A Part Of campaign reminds us that we all can, and must, stay a part of what we truly believe in,” Strebel continued. “Whether that is travel, community, safety, or hope, we are rooted in a bigger idea and we can continue to stay a part of these things although we can’t physically be together. Omni will continue to stay a part of service, offering our guests the same great hospitality they know and trust, and we look forward to welcoming them back with even better standards and guidelines set in place,” he noted.
For more information or to book accommodations, call 1-800-The-Omni or follow Omni Hotels & Resorts at Facebook.com/OmniHotels and Instagram.com/OmniHotels.
Once a relatively invisible part of the guest experience, health and safety standards have been thrust into the spotlight as hotels prepare to resume operations in the wake of Covid-19.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an incredible ramping up of public statements and hotel brand promises,” said Kate Walsh, dean of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. “I think the industry, the big brands and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) have all caught up really quickly.”
Over the past month, the AHLA as well as players such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham have publicized enhanced health and cleanliness initiatives, offering details on everything from contactless check-in methods to updated housekeeping strategies.
Hyatt, for example, has pledged to deploy a dedicated “hygiene manager” at every hotel across its portfolio by September. Both Marriott and Hilton have said they’ll be rolling out new cleaning technologies, including electrostatic sprayers (which emit a disinfecting mist) and ultraviolet light. Wyndham has promised to drop-ship face masks and hand sanitizer to its hotel owners at cost.
Most major hospitality companies have also tapped various medical, hygiene and safety experts to help develop their Covid-19 prevention plans. Spain’s Iberostar Group, which plans to start reopening its Portugal and Montenegro properties shortly, recently added infectious disease specialist Sebastian Crespi to its new Medical Advisory Board.
According to Crespi, some of Iberostar’s most important protocols revolve around social distancing. That, however, can present a unique challenge to hoteliers, who are used to putting an emphasis on human connection.
“As we open, it will be important, whenever possible, to keep the warmth of the hotel intact, even as we continue to guarantee security,” Crespi said.
Balancing safety with a sense of hospitality is also top of mind for many properties in New York, the U.S. epicenter of the Covid-19 crisis.
“There’s going to be a huge fear factor to overcome, similar to what happened with 9/11 and the fear to fly,” said Vijay Dandapani, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City. “Yes, we need to provide proper, socially distanced settings and appropriate [personal protective equipment]. But it’s also important to be innovative and avoid making your space look hazardous. Perception is everything.”
Dandapani cited recent efforts by some Swedish restaurateurs to outfit waiters in decorative face masks, designed to better match a venue’s theming.
Taking a similar tack is European chain Kempinski Hotels, which debuted its Kempinski White Glove Service health and safety platform last month. While the program’s cleanliness protocols are stringent, the company has softened its approach with some luxe touches, providing nonhousekeeping employees with traditional fabric gloves as well as commissioning custom floral-print face masks from Italian uniform designer Maurel.
“For those in hospitality, we all grew up with that classic image of the butlers with gloves, and in a way, this sort of [harkens back] to that sense of proper, formal service,” said Benedikt Jaschke, Kempinski’s chief quality officer. “And the Maurel masks are quite stylish. They don’t look like hospital masks.”
Likewise, Spain-based Room Mate Hotels implemented rigorous health and safety measures across 13 of its open properties in Europe and the U.S., many of which are housing medical professionals and essential personnel. The company plans to roll out these guidelines across its remaining 15 hotels as they reopen.
“The measures we’ve been applying at our hotels have provided a fantastic [learning curve],” said Kike Sarasola, Room Mate Hotels’ founder and president. “We’ve offered [essential personnel] free hotel rooms until June 1. Once they leave, we could welcome clients the very next day, because we don’t need to change anything. We can simply apply all the same protocols around security, social distancing and cleaning.”
Where Sarasola does see some room for improvement, however, are the methacrylate screens set to be installed in reception areas, providing a protective boundary between staff and guests. To make them more aesthetically pleasing, Room Mate has challenged its design partners to come up with creative screen designs. The screens will be put up to an online vote, with guests invited to select the winning options.
“We knew we have to put these screens at our reception, but why couldn’t we do something beautiful?'” Sarasola said. “It costs the same to do horrible, plastic screens as it does to do funky, fun and beautiful ones.”
Additionally, Sarasola said Room Mate is working on developing several new face mask designs, each showcasing the brand’s signature orange hue.
“Anywhere that we can add a little bit of creativity, we will,” Sarasola added.
According to Cornell’s Walsh, creativity will be key as hotels seek to recover post-pandemic, and she predicts hoteliers might have to think outside the box when it comes to offering their usual list of amenities.
“Instead of the fitness center, can a hotel offer a Peloton in the rooms instead?” Walsh asked. “Can a property find other ways to provide important services to guests in the privacy of their room? I think the industry has to think about this in terms of creating new opportunities and services, and sometimes the opportunities lie in the challenge.”
Oasis Hotels and Resorts owner and a vital figure in the development of Cancun, Pedro Pueyo passed away on Saturday.
Born in Palma de Mallorca in 1951, Pueyo pioneered European investment in Quintana Roo, making Oasis the first Spanish hotel brand to arrive in Cancun in 1985 and helping pave the way for the region to become the largest Latin American tourist destination.
“It’s known to all of us the tremendous impact Mr. Pueyo had in the development of tourism in Mexico, but more specifically Cancun and Riviera Maya,” said Enrique Klein, Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Oasis Hotels & Resorts, in a statement to TravelPulse. “Since 1985, his ‘ahead of their time’ visionary nature, full commitment to the industry and love for Mexico, created the path for success for our beloved destination.”
“Without a doubt, his creativity, inventiveness, relentless competitiveness and hardcore desire to succeed made him a unique and fundamental pillar and icon of the hospitality industry in Mexico,” he added. “His involvement with all facets of the industry made him a true visionary…when it came to hotels, airlines, tour operator distribution, ground service companies, as well as the opening and development of new and diverse markets, Mr. Pueyo was hands-on and his contributions were significant.”
“Our prayers are with him, his family and the Oasis team,” Klein concluded.
After Pueyo received the 2018 REPORTUR Award, Apple Leisure Group CEO Alex Zozaya called him “one of the pioneers of Cancun.” “He entered with risk, with desire and in a big way,” Zozaya told REPORTUR.mx.
As domestic and international travel slows to a trickle amid the global coronavirus pandemic, hotels around the world have either shut their doors or seen their occupancy numbers nosedive. But many of them haven’t gone dark entirely.
As of March 25, 7 out of 10 hotel rooms were empty across the United States, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). The association reported that hotels are currently on pace to lose more than $500 million in room revenue per day (or $3.5 billion per week) based on current and estimated future occupancy rates. Nearly 4 million total jobs have either been eliminated or will be eliminated in the next few weeks, AHLA reported.
“COVID-19 has been especially devastating for the hotel industry,” stated Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO. But he added, “The hospitality industry stands ready and able to do whatever we can to make it through this unprecedented crisis, while building a foundation for a stronger tomorrow.”
Despite the devastation, hotels around the world have started turning on guest room lights at night that form messages of encouragement and hope. Whether the illuminations are in the shape of a heart or spell out the words “hope” or “love,” they’re an attempt to spread some positivity during an extremely challenging time.
“It’s been incredible to see this grow into a movement of now hundreds of hotels around the world all displaying solidarity and support for their local communities,” said Emma Corcoran, vice president of global corporate affairs for Intercontinental Hotels Group.
The company’s Crowne Plaza property in Belgrade, Serbia, was among the first to turn room lights on to display an inspiring message, said Corcoran.
“We’re incredibly proud of the way our hotels teams have responded to these challenging circumstances, supporting guests, our hotel owners, and each other, while also finding new ways to care for our communities. Switching on our lights of love is just one demonstration of that, and we’ve loved seeing more and more hotels across the industry get involved,” she added.
Dozens of Marriott International properties have also shone similar messages of love and hope, a movement that started totally organically, said Allison Sitch, vice president of public relations for Marriott International, the Americas.
“Just as we are all eager to return to a time when family and friends can come together in our homes, the same is true of the reunion we look forward to with our guests,” said Jaime Moench, market director of sales and marketing of the Ritz-Carlton, Naples in Florida (part of the larger Marriott family), which turned on its lights in the shape of a heart.
The Standard International has had to temporarily close all its hotels due to the coronavirus pandemic—the Standard, High Line; the Standard, East Village; the Standard Spa, Miami Beach; and the Standard, London—but hearts will light up the facades of both the High Line and London properties until the hotels reopen.
The desire is “to inspire hope through a simple, yet powerful, visual communication,” the company said in a statement.
The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco had to close in March, but “we decided to light up our windows in the shape of a heart to show solidarity and continuous support for our employees and the local community, as a symbol of love and hope,” said Michael Pace, the hotel’s general manager.
Pace noted that many other hotels have done the same in San Francisco, “further spreading the love around our beautiful city. I’ve loved watching the hotel industry come together during this time with the common goal of bringing unity to our cities.”
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With a staggering number of service workers laid off or
furloughed, some hotels have turned to
crowdfunding to help them.
Gofundme has seen a major surge in activity during the Covid-19 crisis. The company said coronavirus-related
campaigns on the site jumped 60%, from 22,000 to 35,000 campaigns, between
March 20 and March 24.
Lifestyle hospitality group SBE launched a Gofundme
on March 20, with founder and CEO Sam Nazarian kicking off the campaign with a
$65,000 contribution and the company promising to match every additional dollar
Proceeds from SBE’s Gofundme will be used to create care
packages for employees in Los Angeles and Miami. Packages are to include nonperishable
food items, household essentials and a $50 gift card. SBE said it “aims to make
these packages available every week as long as possible.”
To date, SBE had raised approximately $113,400 of its
The majority of SBE’s restaurants and entertainment venues in
North America are temporarily closed and several of its Miami-area hotels are,
too (Delano South Beach, SLS South Beach, Shore Club, SLS LUX Brickell and Hyde
Midtown). The SLS Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas is also shuttered.
Boutique hotel brand The Standard launched The Standard
Stands Together Relief Fund on Gofundme on March 22, with proceeds to “benefit and support team members who have lost
their jobs due to the effect of Covid-19.” The Standard recently closed its New
York, Miami and London hotels.
“Our employees, like many others in the service industry,
tend to live paycheck to paycheck,” said Standard Hotels CEO Amar Lalvani in a
letter. “Most are hourly, often relying on tips. Many are immigrants without
family infrastructure here. Few have savings. Most will not be able to pay rent
next month. Without relief, many will leave our cities in a few months
As of March 31, The Standard had raised around $110,400 of
its $200,000 goal.
Boutique chainlet Ace Hotel Group launched the Ace Family
achieving nearly $22,000 of its $500,000 goal since launching March 22.
The company said it has temporarily suspended operations at hotels
in New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, London and Palm Springs, Calif.
New York-based LTH Hospitality, which operates the Vine and
L’Amico restaurants at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi, has established an Employee
Relief Fund on Gofundme.
The hotel and both restaurants have closed.
Similarly, Washington D.C.-based chef Colin Clark has rolled
out a Gofundme
to support furloughed employees at his Via Sophia and Earth N Eats restaurants.
Via Sophia is in D.C.’s Hamilton Hotel.
“People who work in restaurants almost universally lack the ‘work-life
balance’ thing,” said Clark in a statement. “Whether by choice or necessity,
and usually it’s at least a little of both, we live to work, and nothing is
more brutal than a slow shift or a slow month or being stuck at home.”
According to Pam Loprest, a senior fellow and labor
economist for the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, the
proliferation of employee relief funds indicates that many service workers live
“so close to the edge.”
“A very large percentage of hospitality workers are lower-wage
workers,” said Loprest. “It’s commendable that employers are trying to help
their employees, but it’s also evidence that so many people, even in what was a
good economy, have no fallback. We talk about businesses not having any profit
margins, but a lot of families don’t have any margins at all.”
David Madland, a senior fellow and a senior adviser to the
American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress, echoed Loprest’s
concerns, calling the state of hospitality workforce “precarious.”
“There’s research [from the Federal Reserve] that shows that
about 40% of Americans would have trouble coming up with just $400 in an
emergency,” said Madland. “On the one hand, it is heartwarming that companies
are actively trying to help their employees in times of need. On the other
hand, however, this is shocking, and [shows that] the conditions for workers in
many industries, especially the service sector and travel industry, are totally
Aloha State hotels and resorts are swiftly creating game plans after Hawaii Gov. David Ige requested visitors to the Aloha State postpone trips for at least 30 days and then mandated a 14-day quarantine for all arrivals. Several properties have already decided to close for a month or more.
The Kahala Hotel and Resort on Oahu suspended operations March 24 with plans to reopen on May 1 to help arrest the spread of Covid-19 and respond to the tourism slowdown.
“We are deeply saddened to close our doors but understand we must do our part to stop the spread of Covid-19 in our community and protect all residents of Hawaii. We are committed to acting in the best interest of our employees and guests to prioritize their health and safety,” Joe Ibarra, general manager of the Kahala Hotel and Resort, said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, government leaders and health experts to determine when it is safe and appropriate to reopen.
The entire property, including the spa, fitness center, restaurant and retail stores, will be closed through April. Guests are being offered the option to stay through their scheduled checkout date or leave early without penalty.
Existing reservations from March 24 to May 1 are canceled, while new reservations are being accepted for May 1 and later.
Sister properties Halekulani and Halepuna Waikiki closed March 26, the same day Ige’s quarantine order was set to go into effect. The closure is scheduled to go through April 30.
“As always, the safety and wellbeing of our guests and our Halekulani and Halepuna Waikiki team is our utmost priority,” Halekulani Corp. said in a statement. “Our management team is working closely with our guests and our staff to help them in every way possible in advance of closing our hotels, as well as doing everything possible to safeguard our guests, our staff and our community from Covid-19.”
The Ko Olina Resort, including Four Seasons Resort Oahu, Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and the Ko Olina Golf Club, on Oahu’s leeward coast has also closed in response to the pandemic.
The resort’s lagoon beaches and the Ko Olina Marina are also shuttered along with the tour providers, wedding chapels, restrooms and parking lots. The timeshare property Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club remains open for now, along with the independently owned restaurants and retail stores at the Ko Olina Station and Ko Olina Center.