Hotel bookings in LA reached pre-pandemic levels in fall

Bookings nationally was at about 90 percent of 2019 levels in October and November

Hotel bookings in LA reached pre-pandemic levels in fall
Hotels in LA (iStock)

Demand for travel drove hotel bookings in Los Angeles back to their pre-pandemic levels this fall.
Bookings reached 100 percent of their 2019 levels in October and November, according to SiteMinder data first reported by the L.A. Times.

Bookings nationally were about 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, but some cities are still struggling — San Francisco saw about half as many bookings in those months as two years prior.

Around 15 percent of L.A. visitors are coming from out of the country.

“There’s pent-up demand for vacations that were deferred, for weddings that were canceled,” JLL hotel sales broker John Strauss said. “Despite the head wind of Omicron, there is a definitive and strong appetite” to travel.

Strauss added that “there is a major return of pent-up group business,” as well. Group bookings are key for hotels and fell off significantly last year.

While the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant may not be deterring travelers, it may prompt state and local officials to tighten restrictions, which would likely dampen demand for rooms.

So far, none of L.A. County’s 30 Omicron cases have resulted in hospitalization or death, but total Covid-19 hospitalizations are up 39 percent since November 23, just before the Thanksgiving holiday. California officials on Wednesday instituted a statewide indoor mask mandate.

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The upturn in travel, meanwhile, has hotel operators struggling to secure the supplies they need for everyday operations, including cleaning supplies, linens and food. They’re also having trouble finding workers, particularly in restaurants and bars.

The chaos of the last two years has forced some hotel operators to shut down and some investors are taking advantage.

LVMH earlier this week closed a $200 million deal for the former 86-key Luxe hotel on Rodeo Drive.

The Luxe shuttered last year, “caught up with the bad timing of the global travel market,” according to Aron Harkham, the son of owner Efram Harkham.

The French conglomerate last summer also bought a Beverly Drive property next to their Cheval Blanc hotel development site, likely with plans to incorporate it into the hotel.

The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood officially hit the market in October after shuttering in January because of the pandemic. The 139-key hotel had been in operation since 1999.

[LAT] — Dennis Lynch