Tag: Albany

As hotel occupancy drops, some Albany hotels close again

ALBANY— With another wave of coronavirus infections surging across the country, fewer people are staying at hotels, making the already slow winter season even more intimidating for hotel owners.

At the end of October, the country saw the lowest occupancy levels since mid-June. This month that level continued to slip lower, while short-term rentals, like Airbnb, are selling better than hotel rooms, according to data from industry monitor STR.

In response, hotels in the Capital region have made a wide array of decisions from closing temporarily to adding apartment-style rooms and virtual learning packages trying to preserve their business.

Hotels in upstate New York have not been evenly hit. Full-service hotels in Albany that rely on corporate travel or their guests coming for restaurants and bars inside the hotel are struggling, while hotels that provide easy access to nature and social distancing activities like those in Lake George and Lake Placid are having record success.

“Since we reopened in late June, we are busier than we can ever remember,” said Seth Dow, the front-office manager at Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid. “Lake Placid in general has not been this busy since the 1980 Olympics.”

Two hotels that were delinquent on their loans in September are now approaching foreclosure. There are now seven hotels in total in the region delinquent on their loans, up from five in September, according to data compiled by industry analyst Trepp.

In Albany, two hotels that reopened on Oct. 1— The Spring Hill Suites and The Holiday Inn Express— have closed yet again.

“It was bad, it was like two guests a day or three. No one was traveling anyway…” said Vicky Sindhu, the operating manager at the Holiday Inn Express, about the month of October. “There (were) no government officials, no trips, no events.”

In Saratoga Springs, The Gideon Putman hotel, starting this month, will not be open to overnight guests until April 2021, but its spa will remain open to visitors.

The Pavilion Grand Hotel, which originally was slated to be condominiums, has now converted all of their hotel rooms to apartments. As of Nov. 1 their length-of-stay requirement is a one-week minimum. They started accepting one-year rentals in September.

“It is more like a home now versus just a hotel stay,” said Susanne Simpson, the director of the hotel’s Hospitality Division. “When COVID-19 struck we had a lot of our clients that were very interested in renting much longer term because of the style of our hotel.”

Terra Stratton from the Washington Park Group echoed this. She is turning people away at their 4th Precinct Apartments in Center Square and she is building two private-entrance suites at their Washington Park Inn because of the high demand for rooms with private access.

Despite the trend, many full-service hotels located in downtown Albany are still struggling.

“Albany is very affordable for a stay right now,” said Bruce Rosenberg, the president of HotelPlanner.com. “I think hotels are taking the necessary steps to remain visible and

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Albany airport first to get GE Aviation’s safe travel technology

COLONIE — Albany International Airport on Thursday will debut an app developed by General Electric Co. that will provide updated information on cleaning routines designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

GE’s Wellness Trace App will read QR barcodes at 45 locations throughout the airport. Travelers can scan the codes with their smartphones to learn how recently each location was sanitized and how frequently. The information is updated each time the area is cleaned.

Lavatories, seating areas, ticket counters and other high-touch areas are among the locations covered by the app developed for the airport by GE Aviation’s Digital Group.

Travelers can obtain the information by using their smartphones to scan the QR barcode.

“Today there’s 45 places at the airport” with QR barcodes travelers can access, said Andrew Coleman, general manager of GE Aviation’s Digital Group, “ranging from lavatories to Chick-fil-A,” one of the airport’s most popular concessions.

One goal is to expand the technology to taxicabs and to services such as Uber and Lyft, and to aircraft and other airports, Coleman said.

“We’re proud to have Albany International as our launch customer,” Coleman said. “The app is helping them closely track Covid-19 cleaning protocols today, with the potential to track other health screening as the industry and regulators navigate safe travel in a post-pandemic world.”

Albany’s airport was a natural place to introduce Wellness Trace App. GE Research in Niskayuna, which worked with GE Aviation on the technology, is a 10-minute ride from the airport, and GE officials are heavy users of the airport. Meanwhile, airport CEO Philip Calderone has been a proponent of using advanced technology to keep travelers safe “from curbside to the boarding gate,” he said in an interview this week. “We’ll be the cleanest and perhaps the smartest airport,” he said, adding that a new airport master plan now being developed seeks to have Albany serve “as an incubator for new smart technologies.”

GE Aviation is a major supplier of jet engines to the world’s airlines, as well as aircraft avionics and electrical power systems, and it hasn’t been immune to the impact the pandemic has had on air travel. The new technology eventually could help airlines seat passengers to minimize the threat of Covid-19 and make them more confident in the safety of air travel.

GE also is looking at ways to minimize the threat anywhere crowds gather, including hotels, conference centers and other venues. The company is working along those lines with Formula One racing in Europe, Coleman said.

Another location where the app can add value to the airport is the area before the security checkpoint, said Amy Linsebigler, a chief scientist at GE Research. GE already has technology to manage patient flow and the use of surgical suites in hospitals, and can apply that to the flow of passengers through security checkpoints, she said.

“We’re working on social distancing and queuing even before they get to the security checkpoint,” said Calderone.

GE researchers plan to use artificial intelligence and

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