APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)- Nearly half of the hotels in the U.S. were expected to close during the health crisis, last year, that’s according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
So how is the Fox Cities hotel industry fairing? Just over a year ago, the pandemic forced ‘Safer at Home Orders’ across the nation, which decimated the hotel industry.
Linda Barclay, the Clarion Hotel General Manager says, “The last time we were here. We were running about 10 rooms out of a hundred, so about ten percent occupancy.”
Linda Garvey, Red Lion Hotel General Manager says, “It was pretty lean during the ‘Safer at Home Orders.’ Occupancy was very lean, but our ownership was very gracious in keeping us open so that we could continue to serve our community.”
But what a difference a year makes. Barclay says, “Over the last few months though, we’ve actually started to pick up. Things have been really good especially on the weekends. Most weekends we’re running 95 to 100 percent occupancy. So families are ready to get out.”
The Red Lion Hotel laid off most of its staff, last year, but things are different now. Garvey says, “We’ve been able to bring back some employees that we missed so dearly. We’re doing better much better. We’ve been able to reopen some of our restaurants. Vince Lombardi’s Steakhouse.”
The Wisconsin Hotel Association says the Appleton hotel business may be the exception right now but not the rule. Bill Elliot, President of the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging says, “Even as we’re recovering, it’s going to be a long road for a lot of our facilities to dig out of the mess COVID-19 caused.”
A comeback for hotels may be a little further along. Elliot says, “A lot of the reports we see are showing that we’re not going to get back to the 2019 numbers that we had until 2024.”
But local Fox Valley hotels are hoping the vaccine rollout will lower COVID-19 cases and raise hotel revenue. Garvey says, “As confidence grows and people getting vaccinated, we are starting to see our business come back.”