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Coronavirus claims a major NYC hotel as occupancy rates rise slowly

May 20, 2020
5 min read
Coronavirus claims a major NYC hotel as occupancy rates rise slowly
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The hotel industry in the U.S. is in the midst of a slow, but steady recovery as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the nations of the world. The slow tick upward for hotels comes from data released by STR -- a firm that compiles market data, analytics and benchmarking for the global hospitality industry -- for last week, May 10–16, 2020.

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In April, the industry saw "unprecedented lows" in terms of occupancy rates, with just 21% of hotel rooms occupied across the U.S. during the week of April 5–11, 2020, with variation depending on the specific destination. In the weeks since then, the industry has seen steady improvement, though it's been anything but robust.

During the week that ended May 16, hotels across the U.S. reported occupancy levels of 32.4%, which is down about 54% compared to the same week last year but up from "rock bottom" in April. And, ever since hotels hit their lowest occupancy rates in early April, each week has seen an increase in occupancy across the nation as a whole. Each increase has been small, to be sure, but it's been steadily trending upward nevertheless.

According to Jan Freitag, STR’s senior VP of lodging insights, “Last week’s data showed demand of more than 10 million room nights sold for the first time since the end of March, and this past week, the industry inched close to 11 million."

Freitag added that with all 50 states in the U.S. relaxing at least some coronavirus-related restrictions, this type of slow but steady growth should continue as demand for leisure-oriented vacations continues to increase in "drive-to destinations with beach access like Florida, or national park access, such as Gatlinburg, Tennessee."

Related: What to know as national parks reopen

While some areas, like Seattle, have seen meaningful increases in their hotel occupancy rates, others, particularly those that are still under heavy restrictions, have hardly seen any rebound. For example, Honolulu, Hawaii, hotels are reporting occupancy rates of just 11.7% compared to last year, up ever-so-slightly from the 10.5% that was reported for the week of March 22–28. While it has trended upward in Honolulu, it's still a staggeringly low number for a market that typically sees millions of tourists each year.

Related: Hawaii extends 14-day quarantine through June -- Here's what tourists need to know

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While the hotel industry is showing encouraging signs of life, "less bad" news isn't "good" news by any means. In fact, we're beginning to see concrete examples of how the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on cities like New York, where occupancy rates remained essentially flat versus last week (43.6% vs. 43.7% for last week).

The Times Square Edition, a hotel that's barely a year old, has become one of the first properties to succumb to the virus, as it's planning to cease operations permanently come August. Per a Marriott spokesperson, the chain "has provided advance notice to employees, government officials and union officials that according to current information, it expects to cease operations of the Times Square EDITION Hotel in New York City on or about August 13, 2020."

Times Square Edition (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

So, as the United States and other countries around the world tiptoe into relaxing coronavirus lockdown restrictions, is now the time to book your trip?

Just about every major hotel chain has released detailed plans for new measures that they're putting into place to promise guests and employees clean and safe hotels. And, chains have also loosened cancellation and rebooking policies to provide greater flexibility to travelers. Right now may not be the right time to travel for everyone, but there's no harm in making plans for later this year or early next year if you're able to take advantage of more favorable hotel chance and cancel policies.

Bottom line

It's safe to say that the travel industry has begun the long journey to recovery.

For each of the last several weeks, hotels across the nation have seen their occupancy rates rise -- even if just slightly. Airline passenger screening in the U.S. has seen a similar increase. As we head into the summer, and a further loosening of restrictions, it's likely that we'll see these trends continue, even though it'll also likely be quite a long time before we see the kinds of numbers that even come close to what they were in 2019.

Featured image by Getty Images/EyeEm

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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023