Published on : Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Some of the major hotel chains in New York are closing, for the first time in history, because of the Coronavirus outbreak, prompting requests for aid from U.S. President Donald Trump.
The New York Hilton Midtown on Sixth Avenue — the Big Apple’s largest hotel — will close its 1,929 rooms indefinitely starting on March 20, sources said. Meanwhile, the luxury Baccarat hotel on West 53rd Street will turn off the lights on March 21 — along with scores of other NYC lodging properties, according to the sources.
The closures due to coronavirus outbreak , which industry sources are calling “unprecedented,” prompted a meeting Tuesday between President Donald Trump and the heads of several large hotel companies. At the meeting, Hilton Chief Executive Christopher Nassetta told Trump that the publicly traded Hilton Worldwide plans to close hotels in most of its major US cities as occupancy rates decline to the single digits.
Hilton’s been around 100 years — they have never closed a hotel that wasn’t going to be demolished or rebuilding, Nassetta said.
The hotel executives from Hyatt hotels, Marriott hotels, Best Western and a slew of others want to be included in plans for a federal relief package, arguing that 1 in every 25 jobs is directly supported by the hotel industry. Some 4 million total jobs will be lost in the next few weeks, American Hotel & Lodging Association, a trade group, said.
The coronavirus is already on track to do more damage to the industry than the disruptions that followed the attacks of 9/11 and the Great Recession, experts says. The hotel occupancy rates post-9/11 in New York dropped to a low of 74 percent, and to 79 percent after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, according to Sean Hennessey, president of Lodging Advisors, a consulting firm, and a New York University professor of hospitality.
A Hilton spokesperson declined to say when its massive 47-story Midtown property would reopen, but says it’s in the process of notifying guests.