Fueled by pent-up consumer demand and an easing of restrictions related to the Coronavirus, the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend provided some much needed good news for the industry as a number of hotel properties experienced high levels of demand.
In addition, many resort properties in desirable, drive-to markets have expressed optimism for a busy summer season as well.
As an example, the One Ocean Resort in Jacksonville, FL—which is managed by Remington Hotels—was completely sold out for the Memorial Day weekend, according to general manager David Mariotti.
He explained the boost the hotel received. “Decisions in the early weeks of May by our Florida Governor and Jacksonville Mayor to open up the beaches and hotels to non-essential travelers enabled us to capture a pent-up transient demand that resulted in three consecutive 100 percent nights,” said Mariotti.
He further explained that the property surprisingly has gotten some traction on rates as well. “Rates have rebounded beyond expectations with the recent uptick in demand through May and now into June,” said Mariotti.
The general manager further added that remaining open during the pandemic has helped the property “sustain a competitive advantage,” particularly when it comes to quickly bringing back food and beverage and spa operations.
He further noted the property has made some key changes in the wake of the coronavirus, including the introduction of Pure Wellness rooms and the full integration of its mobile key platform. “The investments we’ve made in these platforms will become more essential in a post-pandemic hotel operations environment,” said Mariotti.
According to Mariotti, the prospects for the upcoming summer season are promising as well in large part due to the hotel’s location. “We are cautiously optimistic for continued transient short-term summer bookings. Again, we anticipate hosting more staycationers than usual from those southeast feeder drive markets. These sun seekers and beach lovers tell us they are looking to enjoy an experience closer to home with the ease of traveling in the safety and comforts of their automobile,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Grand Hotel in Ocean City, MD—which is managed by Marshall Hotels & Resorts—also experienced high levels of demand for the weekend. “The weekend was solid because of weather and guests have cabin fever,” said general manager Dave Douglas, who added he saw a large number of young adults in town between the ages of 25 and 40.
Nevertheless, despite the holiday turnaround and recently implemented operational changes, Douglas remains cautious when it comes to predictions for the summer. “Regardless of all the new safety and cleaning protocols we now have in place for guests and staff the pace remains slow for summer and will continue throughout the summer as guests remain cautious,” he said.
Douglas further noted cooler temperatures are predicted for the Atlantic region creating another challenge. “All of this makes for a very uncertain 2020,” he said.