Diplomat, Acqualina, Biltmore hotels closing amid coronavirus

It’s another blow to South Florida’s tourism-dependent economy

Clockwise from left: the Acqualina, the Biltmore and the Diplomat (Credit: Google Maps)
Clockwise from left: the Acqualina, the Biltmore and the Diplomat (Credit: Google Maps)

Major hotels across South Florida are closing voluntarily amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Acqualina Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, and the Biltmore in Coral Gables are all closing by this weekend, as Covid-19 sends shock waves through South Florida’s economy.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued an executive order on Thursday shutting down all non-essential businesses, including restaurant dining rooms, malls, retail stores, casinos, gyms, and even public parks and beaches. Hotels were excluded from the Miami-Dade order, however, and were allowed to remain open. Broward and Palm Beach issued similar orders on Friday but did not mention whether hotels must shutter or can stay open.

Throughout the state, all restaurants have been ordered to close their dining rooms, and can only continue to operate delivery and take-out service, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis. The restaurant closures in Miami-Dade have already resulted in mass layoffs.

Monroe County late Thursday ordered all hotels, guest houses, vacation rentals, short-term rentals in RV parks to close on Sunday for a period of two weeks.

The latest hotel closures are another blow to South Florida’s economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. Cruise lines ceased operations last week.

Acqualina announced Friday that it will be closing on Saturday until May. Deborah Yager Fleming, CEO of Acqualina, announced the closure in an email blast. Fleming wrote that the hotel is laying off and furloughing employees. Those furloughed will receive health benefits through May 30.

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Fleming cited the hospitality industry’s “unprecedented challenges” ahead due to the pandemic.

The Diplomat placed a notice on its website that it will close on Saturday. It does not specify a reopening date.

The Biltmore’s website says it will close from Sunday, March 22 through Wednesday, April 15.

The Breakers in Palm Beach previously announced it would close this past Wednesday for three weeks.

Some major South Florida hotels are still taking reservations, including Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 1 Hotel South Beach and the Boca Raton Resort, according to their reservations systems.