Las Vegas has gone dark. It’s a symbol for the entire U.S. hospitality industry. Famed hotels, amusement parks and other iconic venues sit empty in a season when hope springs eternal.
Nevertheless, properties across the country or not dwelling on their losses. Rather, hotels are finding ways to give back to communities that, too, are suffering due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Here are some inspiring stories.
Caesars Entertainment owns many resorts in Las Vegas—where the anticipated Caesars Forum is waiting for its grand opening—and Atlantic City. Casinos were among the first venues affected because of the crowds in the gaming halls.
Looking to create a positive, Caesars has donated more than 250,000 pounds of food and thousands of personal protection supplies across the United States. Aside from resorts in Vegas and Atlantic City, Caesars’ properties in Kansas City, Missouri, New Orleans and Southern California have distributed thousands of pounds of food donations (about 208,000 meals to numerous food banks and charities) as well as masks, gloves, sanitizer and more to nearby communities.
“We will continue to seek ways to give back to our neighbors who are in need as part of our commitment to help put this unprecedented situation we are all facing behind us," says Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment.
We can all agree that doctors, nurses and medical personnel on the front lines deserve some luxury treatment. Enter The Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street in New York City. The property’s $1,000-per-night rooms now go to house doctors, nurses and medical personnel currently working to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic at no charge.
Ty Warner, the owner, founder and chairman of Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts, which owns the property, told Bloomberg.com: “Many of those working in New York City have to travel long distances to and from their homes after putting in 18-hour days. They need a place close to work where they can rest and regenerate.”
Hotels forced to furlough staff are doing their best to assist affected employees.
Hilton has teamed up with other leading companies to help connect their workers from temporarily suspended hotels find employment with other industries that are desperately hiring to fill their staff shortages.
Hilton isn’t stopping at helping its own team members either, but also any others in the hospitality industry who are now seeking employment who are eligible for the short-term job placement assistance. Those who register with the program are given “direct access and in some cases expedited access to temporary jobs on the Hilton Workforce Resource Center at companies such as Albertsons, Amazon, CVS, Lidl, Sunrise Senior Living, and Walgreens,” according to the company’s announcement.
Companies like these are planning to hire more than 200,000 workers collectively for short-term assignments, as they address the increase in demand during the pandemic.
San Francisco was one of the first cities to see shelter-in-place orders to slow the disease but have a side effect of damaging the hotel industry.
Seeing that its temporary closure may go on for more than a few weeks, Rosewood CordeValle quickly implemented measures to help its staff and community. Managing Director Luca Rutigliano immediately set up a hotline for employees who needed care packages to address their basic needs.
Employees who call in to request a package get one based on their needs—they are not one-size-fits-all. For example, some care packages contain milk, eggs and food necessities while others have toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Often, Rutigliano delivers the packages to the employees outside the property’s gate himself. Rosewood CordeValle has also made food donations from its kitchen to local restaurants to use, as well as to local law enforcement and the elderly community.
The Ocean House Management Collection, which encompasses Ocean House and Weekapaug Inn in Rhode Island and Inn at Hastings Park in Boston, is deploying a food truck manned by its staff, who will prepare and give away lunches to local children 16 and under who ordinarily would have received food from schools that are now closed. The food truck will be in a prominent central location in town multiple days a week with the intention that the more people who learn about it can take advantage of this service. Ocean House Management is also providing food to local food shelters during this crisis.
The Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center is in lockstep with these other properties and hotel collections reaching out to its community (pictured above). The hotel provided hundreds of eggs, turkeys and other food items to its employees, that it dubs their “stars.” The packages were placed on tables outside the hotel as employees drove by in cars and each picked up a bag.
Messages of Hope
We’re all looking for a bright spot during these challenging times, no more so than the hospitality industry. But to cheer up neighbors and passersby, Marriott had hundreds of hotels light up their windows in a showing of solidarity with their communities. The initiative, called #MarriottStrong, is a campaign reaching from Irvine, California, to Indianapolis to Bellevue, Washington, to Boston to San Diego to Newport, Rhode Island, to the Niagara Falls. Sometimes a gesture like a huge heart made out of window lights brightens countless people’s nights—especially those self-quarantined alone.
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, owned by Caesars Entertainment, also offered up a message for the Vegas strip. It lit up its windows to read “We [heart] Vegas” recently and warmed the hearts of the community who liked and shared the post thousands of times.
California hotels, unfortunately accustomed to unwelcome issues like wildfires, are trying to bring as much Zen as they can during this anxious time. MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa has made its weekly yoga sessions with Andrea Bogart digital, free and open to anyone on its Facebook page. Expect challenging poses you can take at your own speed and a mindful flow linking your breath to the movements.
What else would a Nashville hotel offer up to the world but music? The very chic, hip Bobby Hotel is putting on a virtual concert series via its Instagram channel. With music muted in all restaurants, bars and even at the historic Ryman, this is a good way for people all over the world to get their Nashville music fix.
For culture vultures who are missing gallery and museum strolls, The Betsy-South Beach in Miami is bringing its arts programming to the masses for free. The Ocean Drive beauty is opening up its iconic arts salon events online. The family-owned and -operated hotel wants to inspire those who are stuck at home and need an artistic reprieve from all the depressing coronavirus news. The hotel partnered with Florida International University of Miami Beach and John Stuart, executive director of Miami Beach Urban Studios/FIU to make this unique virtual experience come to fruition.
For those cooped up at home and trying to find ways to better themselves before rejoining the world, Rosewood CordeValle has created a new tutorial series live on its Instagram channel, inspiring individuals to learn a variety of new skills from golfing lessons to Charcuterie 101. Just imagine the next time you hit the links and are parring every hole. Or even better! When you can serve a gorgeous homemade charcuterie plate to your guests at your future dinner party.