Hotel occupancy climbs but looting takes toll

Open Chicago hotels were 29.1% filled, according to latest STR report, tallied before this week’s business reopening and protests

TRD CHICAGO /
Jun.June 05, 2020 10:00 AM
Overall hotel occupancy rates climbed last week, but that was tallied before this week’s protests, in which vandals damaged theWit hotel in the Loop. (Credit: Google Maps)

Overall hotel occupancy rates climbed last week, but that was tallied before this week’s protests, in which vandals damaged theWit hotel in the Loop. (Credit: Google Maps)

For the ninth week in a row, overall Chicago hotel occupancy rates inched higher, another sign that the city is slowly emerging from the Covid-19 shutdown.

The hotel occupancy rate stood at 29.1 percent for the week ending May 30, according to hospitality data firm STR. It was about 1 percentage point higher than the week before, perhaps measuring success in teaspoons but improvement nonetheless.

Downtown hotels, which have been particularly hit hard, saw their occupancy rate tick down a fraction: 16.7 percent from 16.9 percent the week before. But those hotels also saw a slight rise in average daily rates and revenue per available room, according to the data.

The city finally reopened to many nonessential businesses on Wednesday as scheduled, despite several days of large protests following the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. Those demonstrations after George Floyd’s killing also led to bursts of looting and vandalism to stores, twin blows to business owners who were already struggling from the coronavirus lockdowns. The citywide 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew remains in effect, according to reports.

In the Loop, theWit hotel — a 310-key property — had its lower floors vandalized and some windows smashed, a scene that was caught on CNN and cited by Crain’s. Because of the damage, the hotel is not accepting reservations through the month, the outlet reported.

Nationwide, hotel occupancy stood at 36.6 percent, up a percentage point from the week before, STR reported. Occupancy rates were below 30 percent for all of April. RevPar was also up in the latest figures, to $30.34.

RevPar for Chicago hotels climbed to $21.26 while Downtown hotels saw that figure inch up to $16.97.

Hotels across the country have been decimated by the pandemic, and Chicago’s occupancy rate reached a low of 16.1 percent at the end of March. Many of the hotels in Chicago have been forced to close, while a handful hammered out deals with the city to take in health workers, coronavirus patients and those exposed to the virus. The program has boosted revenue slightly for those struggling hotels. But many of the properties in the city have also fallen behind on their loans, including the 610-key JW Marriott Chicago. A $40 million senior portion of its $203 million mortgage was transferred to special servicing in recent weeks.


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