Hoteliers open doors to help those fighting COVID-19

Oxford Hotels & Resorts volunteered five Chicago hotels, including Hotel Julian, to house asymptomatic guests and and those requiring isolation. Photo credit: Daniel Kelleghan

Despite plummeting occupancy and revenue, many hoteliers have stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to help others.

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This Tuesday, for example, the American Hotel & Lodging Association announced the launch of Hotels for Hope, an initiative aimed at connecting hotel properties with the health workers and first responders in need of temporary housing. At the time, it said it had identified 6,500 properties near healthcare facilities that were ready to help.

Hotels Volunteer to Quarantine

The AH&LA’s initiative came on the heels of efforts in states like Texas and California, where associations are putting out forms through which hoteliers can volunteer their property for use by the state. According to the California Hotel & Lodging Association’s website, the state would contract the entire property, not utilize any existing staff and compensate the hotel for what anticipated staff would have been if the hotel had been at 100 percent occupancy.

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CH&LA Chairman Bijal Patel told Hotel Management the association’s website was able to gather thousands of hotel rooms across the state in just a few days. Some of these properties have already become home to passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship who needed to quarantine and self-isolate, he said.

“Due to the overwhelming response from hotel owners and also to the constantly evolving health situation, the state of California has delegated the Hotel Volunteer Program to individual counties, where details can be managed much more easily and conveniently,” Patel added. “Hotels across the state are now working with their local health departments to help provide housing and resources for patients and ‘at risk’ individuals who need to self-isolate, so our industry can play an appropriate role in stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

The Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, too, is taking volunteers to enter into lease or other occupancy agreement with the government. The association’s website said the nature of this lease would vary depending on local needs, but in many cases, it would involve a request to quarantine individuals with a pending or positive COVID-19 test.

In Illinois, Oxford Hotels & Resorts announced it has volunteered five hotels and up to 1,100 rooms in Chicago’s efforts to fight COVID-19. In addition to housing asymptomatic guests and those requiring isolation, these rooms also will provide housing for first responders fighting the pandemic. The participating hotels—Hotel One Sixty-Six Magnificent Mile, Hotel Cass, Hotel Essex, Hotel Felix and Hotel Julian—will provide three meals a day.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our community, we wanted to do our part to provide a sanctuary for those who need it during this difficult time,” John Rutledge, founder/CEO of Oxford Capital Group and Oxford Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement “We’re proud to help the city combat this crisis and allow our brave medical professionals to focus on their most critical patients in their hospitals.”

In addition to helping Chicago, George Jordan, president of Oxford Hotels & Resorts, said the arrangement will allow the company to retain a number of employees who are interested in helping.

Companies Offer Free, Discounted Stays to Affected Individuals

Over the past week, several hotel companies and booking companies have announced they would offer free or discounted stays to those in need of housing due to COVID-19

Oyo Offers Medical First Responders Free Stays

Oyo Hotels & Homes announced it would offer free accommodations to doctors, nurses and other medical first responders who are helping fight COVID-19 starting Tuesday. The offer applies to all Oyo hotels in the U.S.

"All of us at Oyo are grateful for the bravery and sacrifices all the medical personnel are making to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19," Ritesh Agarwal, founder/group CEO, Oyo Hotels & Homes, said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this terrible illness.”

Hotel Engine Provides Discounted Rates at 22,500 Hotels

Hotel Engine, a hotel booking-management platform for business travel, announced Monday it had partnered with several hotel chains to provide discounted rates at 22,500 properties for health-care professionals and support personnel assisting in the fight against COVID-19.

Participating companies include Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, RLH Corp., Red Roof, Motel 6, Studio 6 and Extended Stay America. Hotel Engine said most of these hotels are offering an additional 15 percent discount for stays under 30 days and 20 percent for stays over 30 days.

"In these unprecedented times, we're fortunate to be able to partner with some incredible hotel brands to help those who are putting themselves in harm's way to assist those in need," Elia Wallen, founder/CEO of Hotel Engine, said in a statement. "This is brand new to all of us, and we're all learning more about the pandemic each day. We're proud to help in whatever way we can."

Red Roof Discounts Stays for Displaced Students

With campuses across the country closing due to COVID-19, Red Roof announced Tuesday it would be offering displaced students a 30 percent discount, per room, for stays at participating locations across the country. Students looking for longer-term accommodation of seven days or more will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Students can book through May 15 and can stay through May 31.

"We know there is a real need for students who are scrambling to find a place to stay and may be far away from their hometown and family with nowhere to go," Marina MacDonald, CMO at Red Roof, said in a statement. "Red Roof has many locations near colleges and universities, and we have created the Student Support Program to provide secure and safe accommodations to give students some stability and peace of mind."

Domio Offers Free Housing in Miami, Chicago, Nashville

Apartment-hotel company Domio announced March 19 it would be offering free housing to medical professionals and first responders over the following two weeks in Miami, Chicago and Nashville. The offer applies for guests staying at least two nights and a maximum of five nights. Those who wish to stay more than five days can receive a 35 percent discount for additional days. The offer is available on a first-come-first-serve basis until Domio has issued 100 free nights total.

"In the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, we want to thank medical professionals who are guiding us through these unprecedented times," Jay Roberts, CEO of Domio, said in a statement. "At Domio, we are proud to open our hearts—and doors—to offer our spaces to these heroes who are selflessly protecting our communities and loved ones against this terrible virus."

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