With the United States now at the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, and while the hospitality industry itself faces unprecedented economic challenges, several hotel brands have stepped up to help house healthcare workers and COVID-19 patients.
The Four Seasons on 57th Street in New York City was the first to open its doors to medical personnel, doctors, and nurses Wednesday, as announced in a tweet by New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The Midtown property is near a number of hospitals, including Mount Sinai, New York Presbyterian, and Bellevue, and will be closed to other guests until at least April 15.
The Plaza Hotel on Central Park South, the St. Regis New York, and Yotel all swiftly followed suit, offering their facilities for “non-critical care patients or medical personnel,” according to Cuomo. Boutique hotels like Midtown’s Room Mate Grace and the Wythe on the Brooklyn waterfront are also offering free rooms to medical workers. Similar offers will no doubt be announced in due course.
In Chicago, Hotel 166, Hotel Julian, and Hotel Essex—part of Oxford Hotels & Resorts group—are providing 1,100 hotel rooms to house asymptomatic guests, those requiring isolation, and first responders. “We’re proud to help the city combat this crisis and allow our brave medical professionals to focus on their most critical patients in their hospitals,” Oxford Capital Group founder and CEO John W. Rutledge said. The hotels are also providing guests three meals a day, and the initiative allows the company to retain some of its staff.
The group is making 250 rooms available in San Francisco, too, at the Americania and the Good Hotel. (California governor Gavin Newsom just announced that the state has secured 393 rooms across two Oakland hotels to help move homeless people out of encampments and has identified 900 more properties as potential shelters. California’s homeless population numbers at least 150,000, and they are at particular risk of infection.)
The Hilton announced a nationwide initiatve with American Express in early April, pledging one million hotel rooms for frontline healthcare workers across the county. Several other projects have also been launched, aiming to connect hotel rooms with those who need them.
Hospitality for Hope, set up by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), has identified 6,500 properties near hospitals nationwide that are ready to assist government efforts to help the health community and first responders.
“As an industry of people taking care of people, the hotel industry is uniquely positioned to support and help strengthen our communities and first responders who are on the frontlines of dealing with this ongoing public health crisis,” Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO said. “Hotels have always been an active member of our local communities, and this time is no different.”
And there’s Cloudbeds, operating under the hashtag #HospitalityHelps, which “connects healthcare and government agencies with lodging providers ready to supply beds in this time of need.” Hotel owners can sign up to pledge their beds and they’ll be called upon if needed. The site had more than 1 million beds pledged within its first few days. The FAQ page states: “Although cities and agencies are currently prioritizing properties with 100 or more beds, smaller properties may be called upon as the situation continues to rapidly evolve.”
The U.S. news follows similar hotel outreach across the world. In Madrid’s city center, the Ayre Gran Hotel Colón has hosted patients with mild symptoms and is one of 40 hotels in the region offering some 9,000 beds to those affected by COVID-19.
This article was originally published on March 27 and was updated on April 6.