Day: November 15, 2020

Marriott Copley terminates half its staff; thousands of hotel workers unemployed around Boston

The hotel industry has taken a beating during the pandemic, nowhere more so than in Boston. Through September, Boston-area hotels had the largest declines in occupancy, average daily rate, and revenue per available room — the three major metrics of hotel performance — of any major metropolitan area in the country this year, according to the hospitality data company STR.

Many hotels have reopened, but business is bleak. Occupancy rates are hovering around 25percent in the Boston area, on average, and an estimated 8,000 hotel workers are still unemployed. The city’s largest property, the Sheraton Boston Hotel, near the Hynes Convention Center, is still closed, as is the former Taj Boston (set to reopen as the Newbury Boston) and the Ritz-Carltonon Avery Street. The hotel at the Encore Boston Harbor casino reopened in July but closed in November following new restrictions on operating hours.

Given the drop-off in demand, it’s not surprising hotels aren’t bringing back many employees. Unite Here Local 26, which represents hospitality workers, estimates that only 1,000 of its 6,600 hotel members are back at work. But not offering Marriott Copley workers — who aren’t part of the union — a chance to get their jobs back is “completely unacceptable,” said Local 26 president Carlos Aramayo.

More than 230 workers — some of whom have been at the hotel for more than three decades — and about 30 managers were terminated by the Marriott Copley, according to Local 26 estimates, and a group of employees recently sent the company a letter demanding that they be first in line for their jobs once demand returns and that they receive one week of severance pay for every year of service, in line with past practices. (Current offers were capped at 10weeks, instead of the previous 26.)

“They feel that they’ve been thrown out on the street, effectively, in the middle of this crisis,” Aramayo said.

The Marriott Copley Place’s general manager, Alan Smith, said the hotel is available to address employees’ questions and provide support. “Our hotel has experienced unprecedented business impact due to the pandemic,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Throughout this timeframe, we have maintained open communications with our valued employees. Many are now reviewing severance offers, which are competitive within the industry.”

Tchoumi, the concierge attendant, was offered eight weeks of severance for her 17 years of service. She is the only source of income for her family, she said, and her unemployment is about to run out; the rental income from her family’s house in Lynn has also disappeared because their tenants can’t pay. Continuing to send money to her family in Cameroon, where a civil war is raging, is out of the question.

“I am left with nothing — no job and barely enough money to survive,” said Tchoumi, whose son also lost his job setting up meetings at the hotel; her husband retired in January after 18 years of working banquets there. “They told us we were all a family. That is not

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Palestinians torn as Israel seeks Gulf tourists in Jerusalem


A Muslim woman takes a photo next to the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. The Palestinian leadership has condemned the United Arab Emirates’ decision to forge ties with Israel as a “betrayal,” but it could lead to a tourism bonanza for Palestinians in east Jerusalem as Israel courts wealthy Gulf travelers. (Photo: Mahmoud Illean, AP)

JERUSALEM (AP) — When the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize relations with Israel, the Palestinians decried the move as a “betrayal” of both Jerusalem, where they hope to establish the capital of their future state, and the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the city’s holiest Muslim site.

But with Israel now courting wealthy Gulf tourists and establishing new air links to the major travel hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Palestinians in east Jerusalem could soon see a tourism boon after months in which the coronavirus transformed the Holy City into a ghost town.

“There will be some benefits for the Palestinian sector of tourism, and this is what I’m hoping for,” said Sami Abu-Dayyeh, a Palestinian businessman in east Jerusalem who owns four hotels and a tourism agency. “Forget about politics, we have to survive.”

Palestinian leaders have sharply rejected the recent decisions by the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan to establish ties with Israel because they severely weakened a longstanding Arab consensus that recognition only be extended in return for Palestinian statehood.

The Palestinians hope to establish a state including east Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. Arab support, seen as a key form of leverage in decades of on-again, off-again peace negotiations, now appears to be evaporating, leaving the Palestinians arguably weaker and more isolated than at any point in recent history.

In a striking development last week, a delegation of Israeli settlers visited the Emirates to discuss business opportunities. The Palestinians view settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as the main obstacle to peace, and most of the international community considers them to be illegal.

More: First flight carrying Israeli tourists lands in United Arab Emirates after deal between nations

But the prospect of expanded religious tourism could end up benefiting Israelis and Palestinians alike, as wealthy Gulf tourists and Muslim pilgrims from further afield take advantage of new air links and improved relations to visit Al-Aqsa and other holy sites.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital, and its Jerusalem Municipality is organizing conferences and seminars to help tourism operators market the city to Gulf travelers.

“I’m very excited because I think it opens us up to a new era of Muslim tourism that we never really had,” said Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem. “Even though we have peace with Jordan and Egypt, I’ve never really seen any Egyptian tourists or Jordanian tourists because the peace wasn’t a warm peace.”

Hassan-Nahoum, who recently visited the Emirates and is a co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business

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Emirates eyes return to profitability in 2022 as new travel corridors open

An Emirates Airbus 380-800 about to land.

Fabrizio Gandolfo | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Emirates expects to return to profitability in the next two years, as new travel corridors open and the global aviation industry attempts to rebound from the worst crisis in its history. 

“I believe that within the next 18 months, two years, we will return ourselves to profitability,” Emirates President Tim Clark told CNBC in an exclusive interview on Sunday.  

“We will certainly be cash positive during the course of the back end of next year, returning to profitability in (financial year) 2022-2023,” he added.

Earlier this week, Emirates Group reported a loss of $3.8 billion for the first half of the year, its first loss in 30 years, as the coronavirus-related lockdowns brought global air passenger travel to a halt. Revenue collapsed 74 percent to $3.7 billion dollars.

“There are a lot of things that can change that,” Clark said, flagging a number of key concerns still hanging over the sector. “We are an international company trading on the whole of the world’s operations.”

His comments come after new warnings from IATA that the industry cannot slash costs sufficiently to neutralize severe cash burn and avoid bankruptcies in 2021.

“Cash is king,” Clark said. “As long as we can keep our cash position in good shape, we believe that we’ll be ready to re-enter the markets, as well and as large as we always did.”

Emirates said it was tapping into its cash reserves to ensure it had access to sufficient funding to sustain operations. It has cut almost 25 percent of its staff, and the Government of Dubai stepped in to inject $2 billion by way of an equity investment in an effort to support its recovery. 

“We believe things will restore themselves fairly quickly. I’m not one of those people who believe it’s going to take a long time or that it won’t come back in the way that it was,” Clark added.

“I tend to believe we will be as good as we were in the pre-Covid days as an airline.”  

UK-UAE travel corridor

The United Kingdom this week added the UAE to its travel corridor list, meaning travellers flying from the UAE to the U.K. after Nov. 14 will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days. 

“The Government has been working for five months to try and persuade the United Kingdom government that we should be put on their list,” Clark said, praising the decision as “a major boost to tourism in terms of travel between the two countries.”

The U.K. is among the most critically important markets on the Emirates network for passenger travel demand and profitability, with the Dubai to London Heathrow route making up the highest share of departing seats in 2019. 

“Already we’re experiencing quite an increase in the booking velocity in our systems in regards to people coming out to Dubai from the United Kingdom post the second of December after lockdown finishes,”

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Wentworth hotel’s annual Illumination and Toy Drive to be held Dec. 1

Portsmouth Herald

NEW CASTLE — The Wentworth by the Sea hotel’s annual Illumination and Toy Drive will look a little different this year, but will still be held Dec. 1, beginning at 6 p.m.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the annual event will be limited to hotel and restaurant guests only, so proper safety and distancing protocols can be met. Despite these necessary changes, Wentworth by the Sea is planning a fun and joyous event for overnight and dining guests of the hotel.

Reservations are sure to fill up quickly so those wishing to attend should book as soon as possible. For overnight guests, the Wentworth has two packages for maximum enjoyment of the festivities:

• The Overnight Family Package includes overnight accommodations on Dec. 1, hot cocoa and cookies upon arrival, and access to the Illumination event. Rates start at $279.

• Date Night Holiday Light Package includes overnight accommodations on Dec. 1, a boozy hot cocoa/coffee and cookies upon arrival, dinner for two at Salt, and access to the Illumination event. Reservations for dining should be made directly with Salt. Rates start at $399.

For reservations, visit

For those wishing only to dine at Salt before or after the Illumination, a reservation is required. Anyone with a dining reservation will be able to stay and see the Illumination. To reserve, call (603) 373-6566.

This special, traditional event at the Wentworth will also include an appearance by Santa in his sleigh, with elves to take Christmas lists from children. There also will be live music and carolers for the enjoyment of guests.

Another favorite tradition of the resort will also continue – the unveiling of the Gingerbread House. This annual creation is always a favorite with hotel guests and locals who look forward to marveling at the over-sized, magical gingerbread house made by the talented chefs of Wentworth by the Sea.

The Wentworth by the Sea will be conducting its annual Toy Drive once again this year. Toy drop off will be Dec. 1-17. Toys can be dropped off only Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Anyone bringing an unwrapped, unopened gift to help support children of the Seacoast will receive 10% off at Salt; alcohol excluded.

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Planning travel becomes more complicated during pandemic

Published 2:59 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2020

Planning travel for college basketball teams can be complicated. Flights and hotels have to be booked, buses rented, meals planned. Schedules have to be worked around practices and games.

Planning amid the COVID-19 pandemic makes it exponentially more difficult.

Coaches and administrators have to consider ventilation systems, vendor testing protocols, shifting state requirements, airport policies, bus layouts and meal service options.

“You’re trying to balance logistics, but you also trying to balance a budget and health and safety in a pandemic,” Arkansas director of basketball operations Anthony Ruta said. “It’s not always easy.”

The NCAA set the college basketball start date for Nov. 25. When the announcement was made in mid-September, coaches began scrambling to fill out schedules. With the start of the season 10 days away, some of those schedules still aren’t finalized.

Within that scramble was another, more complex one.

It’s one thing to have a schedule set, another to wade through the minutiae to make it work.

The pandemic has put a huge financial strain on athletic departments, sending many millions of dollars in the red. Staying within a travel budget has become even more important.

The preferred method of pandemic travel would be to take a charter flight for the social distancing aspect, but smaller schools don’t have the finances to do that, even under regular circumstances. The financial hit of the pandemic shrinks the charter pool even more.

Charter or commercial, there’s still plenty to worry about. Testing protocols at a variety of airports have to be identified ahead of time. Finding space to spread out in the terminal becomes a priority. There’s also concern about close contacts in the airport, from TSA personnel and gate agents to other passengers.

Even bus rides, the preferred mode of pandemic travel when possible, are fraught with concerns.

Coaches setting up travel have to ask about the filtration system, testing protocols for employees and the interior layout to allow players and coaches to spread out. If the travel party gets too big, maybe a second bus will be required.

No longer is it just asking about bus types and setting up a schedule. Coaches need to know what questions to ask to keep their travel party safe and avoid surprises on the road.

“Nothing unforeseen, but just the different questions you’ve got to ask people,” Wisconsin director of basketball operations Marc VandeWettering said. “Where’s your bus driver been the last few weeks on the road? Who have they been driving? Have they been tested recently? What’s their protocol? I assume they’re going to be wearing masks the entire times, but what else are they doing to assure the safety of the team that they’re transporting?”

Getting there can be half the battle.

Finding hotels with the best pandemic protocols becomes a top consideration with price and proximity. Figuring out room assignments and keeping social distance is part of the equation.

Meal planning is no longer merely deciding whether to go

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VMRDA officials seal hotel in Vizag

In an early morning crackdown, officials of the Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority (VMRDA) sealed a hotel, located adjacent to Gurajada Open Air Theatre, at Siripuram here on Sunday on the charge that the proprietor Harshavardhan had got the lease extended in violation of the norms.

The leaseholder had got his lease extended by the erstwhile Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) in 2015 reportedly in violation of the rules. The then VUDA Vice Chairman had extended the lease by nine years, without considering the fact that the State government had already rejected the plea for extension of licence/lease, according to the vacation notice issued by VMRDA.

The VMRDA officials seized the hotel and sealed it reportedly after issuing a notice saying that the leaseholder had got the lease extended in violation of the rules. The lease rent is very less and the revenue of VMRDA is down due to the pandemic situation. Fresh tenders would be called to allot the premises to the highest bidder as per the rules.The VMRDA officials are also believed to have said that since it was more than three years that the extension was given, a decision on further extension of the lease cannot be taken at the local level and only the State government is competent to deal with it. Mr. Harshavardhan reportedly is a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) sympathiser. It may be recalled that an employee of Mr. Harshavardhan’s restaurant at the airport had attacked the then Opposition Leader and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy with a knife at Visakahaptnam Airport in October 2018.

“The lease for my hotel was renewed till 2024. I was not served any notice and last night, they got the notice printed, though it was a holiday on account of Deepavali, and pasted it on the gate. The land was leased to me and I had constructed the hotel building, after obtaining permission from VUDA, under PPP mode. I have paid all dues and I am not directly connected with any political party,” Mr. Harshavardhan told The Hindu.

Officials of the VMRDA could not be reached over the phone for a clarification.

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Rockport hotel project moving forward despite citizen’s group opposition

Work on a boutique hotel in Rockport is moving forward despite a looming appeal from a citizen’s group that is seeking to limit the number of rooms in the establishment.

The group, Friends of Rockport, is seeking to overturn the Rockport Planning Board’s approval of the project, or at least force the developers to reduce the number of guest rooms in the proposed Rockport Harbor Hotel from 26 to 20, in keeping with a referendum that was approved by voters in August. The project was approved on Feb. 27.

The Rockport Zoning Board of Appeals will be reviewing the group’s appeal at its Nov. 17 meeting.

Since the referendum was passed after the hotel plans were approved, it will be up to the code enforcement officer to decide whether or not the hotel’s developers will have to reduce the room count when they apply for a building permit, according to Rockport Town Manager Bill Post.

“From our standpoint the building will have the same exterior, footprint and overall structural and mechanical design whether we have 26 or 20 rooms so we are just cranking away on continuing to finalize all of our engineering/design work in support of the build,” said Tyler Smith, Director of Property Management and Development for Bayview Management LLC, which is heading up the project.

Excavation work for the Rockport Harbor Hotel began earlier this fall and developers will be applying for a building permit later this month, Smith said. When completed, the hotel will be the first in downtown Rockport.

When it was initially proposed last year, developers planned to build a 35-room boutique hotel on the vacant lot wedged between 18 Central Oyster Bar and Seafolk Coffee in downtown Rockport. Aftering hearing concerns from people involved with the Friends of Rockport, the developer reduced the number of rooms to 26 and removed an entire floor, although the project would still consume the entire lot.

The planning board unanimously approved the project in February, but required that the developers maintain off-site parking for guests and employees ― a requirement that has since been worked into the plans.

But Friends of Rockport still oppose the project. The group was the driving force behind the ballot measure passed by voters in August that limits hotels in the downtown district to 20 guest rooms. An attorney representing the group said the limit should apply to the project since a building permit has not been issued by the town yet.

If a building permit is issued for 26 rooms, the group would likely appeal that decision, according to their attorney, Kristin Collins, of Preti Flaherty.

The group is appealing the planning board’s overall approval of the project on grounds that the board did not adequately take into consideration the town’s comprehensive plan, that a proper traffic and parking study was not conducted and that the hotel does not aesthetically fit into the downtown.

If the appeal is rejected by the zoning board of appeals on Nov. 17, Collins couldn’t say

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Is a “Love Hotel” the Ideal Pandemic Destination?

Amidst renewed calls to take precautions against COVID-19, figuring out the optimal way to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus can be a logistical challenge. A new article by Charlotte English at Atlas Obscura offers on of the most creative solutions to questions of social distancing you’re likely to see this year. What has English proposed? That Japanese “love hotels” might have another useful function: keeping the spread of COVID-19 down.

First, some context. A 2018 article in Savvy Tokyo describes love hotels, formally known as rabuho, as “the not-so-hidden pay-by-the-hour (or night) pleasure accommodations for couples, secret lovers, and other forms of a one-time celebration of love.”

What does any of this have to do with the pandemic? As English explains, the same qualities that make love hotels discreet and private places also make them ideal for social distancing. Part of the privacy aspects of the hotels means not interacting with staff members face-to-face and doing most communication via intercoms or touchscreens. Features designed to preserve anonymity in one context can help stop the potential spread of a disease in another.

As English notes, the fortunes of love hotels have shifted somewhat over the last few years: after a period of decline, some pivoted to pursuing a tourist clientele; now, with tourism down, the spaces have seen a resurgence in domestic bookings.

One traveler reminisced about getting “airlock room service” during his stay at a love hotel. While that may have seemed overly ornate a few years ago, that feature now seems to have found its moment — an unlikely choice, but also a safer one.

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Testing Trial Stokes London-New York Travel Hope, Telegraph Says

(Bloomberg) — A trial starting Monday to test passengers flying between London and New York for Covid-19 could raise hopes for a potential travel corridor, according the Telegraph.

a group of people standing in a room: NEWARK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 08: People arrive before boarding flights for COVID-19 testing at the new testing facility XpresCheck at Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal B on September 8, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. Previously, the facility administered tests only to airline employees and related parties. The facility's focus on testing for communicable disease highlights the switch parent company XpresSpa Group has been making from spa services at airports in the midst of the global pandemic. Newark Liberty XpresCheck, which is the second to begin services after New York's JFK Airport, can administer more than 350 COVID-19 tests per day. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

© Photographer: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images North America
NEWARK, NJ – SEPTEMBER 08: People arrive before boarding flights for COVID-19 testing at the new testing facility XpresCheck at Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal B on September 8, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. Previously, the facility administered tests only to airline employees and related parties. The facility’s focus on testing for communicable disease highlights the switch parent company XpresSpa Group has been making from spa services at airports in the midst of the global pandemic. Newark Liberty XpresCheck, which is the second to begin services after New York’s JFK Airport, can administer more than 350 COVID-19 tests per day. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

United Airlines Holdings Inc. said Friday it will offer free rapid tests to all passengers and crew members on select flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to London Heathrow from Nov. 16 to Dec. 11. Anyone who declines to be tested will be placed on another flight, guaranteeing everyone on board other than children under two will have tested negative before departure.

Results will be shared with officials on both sides of one of the world’s busiest routes and may help to persuade government officials to agree to a travel corridor between the nations, the newspaper said.

The U.K. requires passengers arriving from the U.S. to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. British Transport Minister Grant Shapps has floated the idea of shortening the quarantine period for visitors by testing people a week after arrival. U.K. nationals are also restricted from U.S. entry.

In other airline news, EasyJet Plc has sold its slots at London Stansted Airport to rival Ryanair Holdings Plc in a deal expected to raise tens of millions of pounds, the Telegraph reported. EasyJet is in talks with the U.K. and European governments on a potential bailout, the paper said.

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This Hotel Brand Wants To Help You Lose The “Covid-15”

Throughout 2020, hotel companies have made drastic changes to their business to keep up with the ever-changing protocols and consumer demand due to Covid-19. EVEN Hotels, however, has stayed true to its core message of balanced, healthy living. The growing brand from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) sees that message as more important now than ever.

EVEN wants to help travelers, whenever they are comfortable to get back out there, lose the “Covid-15” (a cheeky reference to weight gain put on while working remotely and off one’s usual routine). EVEN hotels feature guest rooms equipped with workout equipment, dining menus designed around healthy eating habits, and fitness centers larger than most hotels.

According to NCBI, “Roughly 22 percent of adults report having gained weight during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lack of sleep, decreased physical activity, snacking after dinner, eating in response to stress, and eating because of the appearance and smell of food are behaviors linked to weight gain during self-quarantine.”

Raul Ortiz, vice president, global Holiday Inn & EVEN Hotels brand management, explains how a brand like EVEN is well-positioned for these uncertain times, especially when it comes to managing work-life balance.

IHG launched something entirely different in the wellness space with the EVEN brand. What led to this industry-leading concept?

Almost a decade ago, IHG noticed there was a paradigm shift in wellness – it was moving from being a niche trend to a lifestyle. According to the Global Wellness Economy, the wellness industry was valued at $4.2 trillion in 2017, and, since then, it has continued to experience rapid growth.

After recognizing this white space in the market, EVEN Hotels launched in 2014. EVEN Hotels empower travelers to maintain control of their wellness routines while on the road, with the ability to choose what wellness means to them, whether that is keeping active, resting easy, maximizing productivity, or eating well.

Several hotels have guest rooms with fitness equipment. What makes EVEN different?

EVEN Hotels is the only franchised hotel brand that incorporates wellness into every aspect of the on-property experience with in-room exercise zones in every room (not just a subset of rooms) featuring exercise equipment and on-demand fitness videos.

Additionally, each EVEN Hotels property features a separate “athletic studio,” a gym that’s three times the size of a standard hotel gym with best-in-class fitness equipment.

As of 2019, according to travel management company CWT, more than a quarter of travelers work out

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