5 things to know: 15 January 2021
5 things to know: 15 January 2021
15 JANUARY 2021 10:40 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • US hoteliers offer properties as vaccination sites
  • UK Supreme Court rules pandemic as business interruption
  • DC hoteliers prepare for smaller inauguration crowd
  • Scandic negotiates more than $100 million in rent reductions
  • Some US seasonal properties staying open year-round

U.S. hoteliers offer properties as vaccination sites: In a letter to the incoming administration of U.S. President Joseph Biden, American Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Chip Rogers wrote that hoteliers across the U.S. are offering up their properties as possible COVID-19 vaccination sites. Rogers stated that with more than 50,000 hotels across every state in cities, suburbs and rural communities, hotels have the capacity to host many people and operate around the clock, which could help strengthen the distribution effort.

“As you know, administering the vaccine on a national level will be a significant undertaking requiring innovative solutions and collaboration,” he said in the letter. “To aide in the distribution, the hotel industry is asking that hotels be considered as an option for vaccine administration sites in partnership with public health departments.”

U.K. Supreme Court rules pandemic as business interruption: In a victory for small businesses in the United Kingdom, the country’s supreme court upheld a previous ruling that insurance company policies should cover the losses caused by the coronavirus lockdowns, Reuters reports. The court dismissed appeals by six of the world’s largest insurance companies that argued their policies did not cover the disruption caused by the country’s first lockdown in March 2020.

“Insurers said they were paying valid claims but that they could not provide limitless cover for losses amassed when almost the entire economy was shut down and healthy people consigned to their homes in the most stringent restrictions on public life since World War II,” the article states.

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority will work with the insurance industry to make sure companies settle claims quickly, the news agency reports.

D.C. hoteliers prepare for smaller inauguration crowd: U.S. presidential inaugurations normally provide a major boost in occupancy and revenue for Washington, D.C.-area hotels every four years, but not this year, writes HNN’s Robert McCune. Hoteliers near the nation’s capital are booking fewer guests, in part as a result of the coronavirus pandemic as well as concerns around the violence at the U.S. Capitol last week.

Dave Walsh, director of sales and marketing at Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C., said the hotel received “a big uptick in reservations and interest” when Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election.

“There was initially a lot of interest,” he said.

However, bookings dropped off and were canceled following announcements there would be limitations on inauguration attendance and a focus on “virtual” events, due to safety concerns around rising COVID-19 cases, he said.

Scandic negotiates more than $100 million in rent reductions: Swedish hotel operator Scandic Hotels Group has negotiated rent reductions with its landlords to a total of 850 million Swedish krona ($101.3 million) as a result of reduced occupancy and revenue due to the pandemic, according to a news release. The company is considering “further rent reductions to be necessary to manage the current market situation, and negotiations are ongoing with a number of property owners.”

The hotel firm said in December its average occupancy rate was 15%, reaching 23% during the fourth quarter of 2020. The release stated “demand has continued to be weak in all markets and has been impacted by stricter restrictions from authorities. About half of Scandic’s hotels were closed during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, which had a certain negative effect on occupancy in December and at the beginning of January.”

Some U.S. seasonal properties staying open year-round: Some hotels and resorts in the U.S. that normally close during the winter months are staying open all year for the first time because of the demand for outdoor experiences and getaway destinations, The Washington Post reports.

The Tides Inn in Irvington, Virginia, has stayed open past Thanksgiving for the first time in its 73-year history because of guest demand, the newspaper writes.

“We have seen an increase in our resort visits this past summer and fall, due to people’s desire to find wide-open spaces, outdoor recreation and socially distanced stays,” says Jason Trollip, the inn’s managing director.

Compiled by Bryan Wroten. 

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