Grapevine hotels saw their revenue decline by over 60% in March, a fact with which local hoteliers are grappling as they weigh how to reopen safely with the easing of business restrictions across the state.
Steve Haley, the general manager of Hilton DFW Lakes, said the lack of travelers has been a major source of financial woe.
"It's no secret that ... our industry has been devastated by [the pandemic] due to the immediate and ... total cease of travel,” Haley said.
Being a Grapevine-based hotel, Hilton DFW Lakes is located near the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Haley said revenue losses are coming not only from unoccupied rooms but also from the lack of gatherings from corporate travelers.
“The differences in what we're doing now versus ... the normal in this time of year is ... overwhelming,” he said. “There is no group business to speak of at the moment until further safety measures by the governor are given.”
Recouping some of those losses would look like the rescheduling canceled events, he said.
“We're not taking groups of very significant size,” Haley said. “We're spending our time ... rebooking and re-putting folks into later parts of the year, when they hope that they'll able to be traveling in larger groups.”
While booking corporate gatherings may be further down the horizon for local hoteliers, Paul W. McCallum, executive director of the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he is hopeful leisure travelers will fill the gaps in the meantime.
“After 9/11, there was this sense of staying close,” McCallum said. “Grapevine has ... very much provided this sort of family entertainment. ... This is where people come to kind of feel the 'hometown America' experience.”
Haley said he expects the the trickle of local travelers to be slow at first.
“We use the term 'staycation.' ... I think you'll see some of that, you know, once folks are allowed to get back out,” Haley said. "I think people will be willing to do it. It'll be gradual—it won't be ... all at once.”
McCallum said at a May 5 City Council meeting that room occupancy rates across Grapevine remained in the single digits. Those numbers factor in hotels that are closed, he said.
Other big players in the Grapevine hotel and travel scene include the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center and the Great Wolf Lodge. Both of those resorts remain closed as of the publication of this report.
“Hotels, in terms of rooms, can be open,” McCallum said. "It’s just their choice at this time that the larger hotels—the about amount of staffing it takes to [stay open] and for a 6-8% occupancy—it just doesn’t work.”
Great Wolf Resorts CEO Murray Hennessy said in a release that he is looking at a mid-June opening.
“We are actively supporting government-issued community safety measures and doing everything possible to help slow the spread so we may return to some level of normalcy,” Hennessy said. "For us, that has included the closing all of our resorts through June 15. This unprecedented health crisis has caused many hardships and challenges."
Grapevine hotel room occupancy rates in 'single digits'; some opt to keep doors closed
Grapevine officials said hotel occupancy rates remain in the single digits amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)