Chicago hotel occupancy rate inches up, but it’s still dismal

Latest report from STR shows city’s overall rate highest since late March; downtown number falls

TRD CHICAGO /
May.May 08, 2020 11:00 AM
Chicago’s hotel occupancy rate inched higher but is still around 25%. Oxford Capital’s Hotel Essex, above, among a handful housing frontline workers and Covid-19 patients through a city program. (Credit: Google Maps)

Chicago’s hotel occupancy rate inched higher but is still around 25%. Oxford Capital’s Hotel Essex, above, among a handful housing frontline workers and Covid-19 patients through a city program. (Credit: Google Maps)

Chicago’s hotel occupancy rate inched higher for the fifth straight week since bottoming out in late March, but the overall figure remains staggeringly low, with the city still essentially under quarantine.

The new data showed the occupancy rate stood at 24.2 percent, up from its low-point of 16.1 percent from March 22-28, according to hospitality research firm STR. Average daily room rate crept up to $72.70 and revenue per available room also hit a five-week high of $17.61.

To put the current crisis in perspective, the occupancy rate is down 67 percent from the same time last year, daily room room rate is down 53 percent and RevPar is down about 85 percent.

While Gov. J.B. Pritzker this week outlined a path to broader retail and office reopenings statewide, he said Illinois was only on Phase 2 of his five-phase plan. High-density Chicago would likely be among the last to unlock its doors.

For the hard-hit hospitality industry, a handful of hotels in downtown Chicago have benefited from the city’s program to pay for rooms to house frontline workers and coronavirus patients. The plan was to free up hospital beds, and to boost the battered hotels. But that program may be ending soon — a bit of good news, given the need — with roughly half of the 875 rooms Chicago has been paying since late March now empty. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said it would not rent additional rooms — the plan was to rent up to 2,000 a night — and is “in the process of assessing our needs going forward.”

In the city’s central business district, which has been decimated, the occupancy rate slipped to 13.4 percent, according to the latest STR figures. That’s a few percentage points below what it had been the previous week and 83 percent below the same time last year. Average daily room rate stood at $102.69 — a slight improvement from the week before — while RevPar dropped a few cents to $13.77.

Some city hotels have also been trying to transform unused rooms into makeshift offices.

Rooms at the 221-key Godfrey are available for rent during the day, for $52, and the budget Red Roof Inn was offering its rooms to office workers for $29 a day.


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