NYC hotels hoping for holiday business swell likely to be disappointed

CBRE projecting 56 percent occupancy in fourth quarter


New York City hotel operators are going to be feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge this holiday season if reported occupancy expectations hold up.

CBRE Group’s hotel division forecast occupancy in the city to hit 56 percent during the fourth quarter, according to the Wall Street Journal. That’s only a slight increase from the third quarter and a disappointment compared to the historical lift in occupancy rates during the holidays.

“We’re going to get some visitation over the holidays but I don’t think this is a cure-all in any way,” said CBRE’s head of hotels research and data analytics, Rachael Rothman.

Not all hotel operators in the city are feeling as glum about the holiday season. Shannon Knapp, president of Leading Hotels of the World, told The Journal that occupancy and average-daily room rate at the Knickerbocker in Times Square are close to 2019 levels.

Despite some signs of hope, the pandemic has left this holiday season on shaky ground after dashing tourism — and the dollars that typically come with it. As of Nov. 15, international flight bookings to the city for the month were down 45 percent from 2019 levels, according to data from ForwardKeys reported by the Journal.

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Additionally, tourists from specific countries may have a harder time making the trip at all. Requirements that Chinese citizens quarantine upon returning from overseas may potentially dissuade some from traveling.

New York City’s hotel industry has seen some life in recent weeks on the heels of a bill requiring shuttered hotels to reopen by Nov. 1 or pay severance to out-of-work employees.

The Omni Berkshire Place, Grand Hyatt near Grand Central, Hilton Midtown on Sixth Avenue and Martinique Hotel announced plans to begin reopening in the coming weeks.

“Our strategy was to lose less, so what do we do?” Peter Strebel, president of Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts, told Crain’s last month. “Paying the severance would have cost more than reopening.”

The forecast for recovery among the city’s hotels remains cloudy. In April, a CBRE study predicted New York City hotels wouldn’t recover to 2019 occupancy levels until 2025.

[WSJ] — Holden Walter-Warner