Hotels Hoping Eased Restrictions Lead to Some Recovery From Pandemic Losses

Hotels say they are seeing small signs of a turnaround as some business travelers return.

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In downtown Hartford and other cities around the state, there are several high-rise hotels. Many are largely dependent on business travelers which in 2020 were hard to find.

Whether it be planes, trains or automobiles, business travelers found their way to the state quite frequently, pre-pandemic. When business ceased however, airports became desolate and the hotel destinations took a big hit.

“As a whole it has obviously devastated us throughout this past year,” said Steve Matiatos, president of the Connecticut Lodging Association.

Although specific numbers were not provided, the Connecticut Lodging Association (CLA) explained that there were significant revenue losses, especially for hotel properties catering to the business traveler. Specifically, those in the state’s larger cities that depend on renting meeting space for corporate functions.

“Those will take a long time for recovery. Certainly not this year,” said Matiatos.

To accommodate for the losses, many properties were forced to lay off or furlough many staff members. The American Hotel and Lodging Association says 8,799 direct hotel workers lost their jobs in 2020.

As big as that number is, it does not include people who worked in hotel restaurants or retail shops, which were also shut down.

There is reason for hope though. With the rollback of many restrictions, including the state’s travel advisory, hotels are seeing signs of a rebound.

According to the CLA, business travel is slowly returning as restrictions are easing. With that, hotels are expecting an uptick.

“We can have some of our meetings back in our hotels,” added Matiatos. “People are feeling a little bit safer to do so.”

The Delamar Hotel in West Hartford estimates 75% of its business is dependent on business travelers. They say some of them are returning.

“We do have groups and meetings starting to plan and put their dates on the books again. Which is wonderful to see after the year that we’ve had,” said Delamar Director of Sales and Marketing Jackie Kosiba.

This past winter, The Saybrook Point Resort & Marina says it did something it hadn’t done in 30 years - they closed for a few days a week. Heading into the summer though, they say they are receiving a high volume of inquiries, including ones from out of state.

“We’re all excited to welcome everyone back, and to take it up a little bit more and make it feel a little more normal this year,” resort Marketing Director Candace Engdall.

With the encouraging news, hotels are returning to growth mode.

“We are hiring for almost every position. The front desk, bellman, housekeeping, restaurant and banquet halls, said Kosiba. The Delamar isn’t the only hotel in hiring mode. The Saybrook Point Resort and Marina is holding a job fair this Saturday at 11 am.

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