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Coronavirus Florida: Hotel stays plummet as pandemic stops travel

Staff Writer
Walton Sun
Walton Sun

For hotels in Palm Beach County and statewide, March is the highest of the high season. This March, though, the coronavirus has delivered a crippling blow.

For the week of March 15-21, hotel occupancy in Palm Beach County was just 32.6%, down from 85.5% in the first week of the month, research firm STR said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, hotels’ revenue per available room — a common measure in the industry — plunged to $65 March 15-21, down from $227 in the month’s first week.

The trend was similar statewide. For the week of March 15-21, hotel occupancy in Florida was just 35%, down from 77.1% in the first week of the month, STR said.

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Statewide revenue per available room cratered to $49 March 15-21, down from $135 in the month’s first week.

The grim numbers, which could get worse if travel restrictions intensify, are hardly surprising. After all, Florida’s tourism industry is all but closed. Walt Disney World is dark, spring training is off, even the beaches are off limits.

Meanwhile, most corporate conferences canceled, as did such events as the Palm Beach International Boat Show and the Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

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The Breakers, the iconic resort in Palm Beach, has closed to guests. The Eden Roc, a prominent inn in Miami Beach, laid off 257 workers.

A hotel trade group predicts some 300,000 Florida workers will lose their jobs.

This week, the Waterstone Resort & Marina, a boutique hotel in Boca Raton, said it laid off 111 workers because of the pandemic. It was one of four hotels statewide that announced a combined 400 layoffs, according to Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notices made public Wednesday.

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