Comfort Suites in Roanoke coping with coronavirus-related event cancellations

(Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
(Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)

(Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)

The postponement of major events at the nearby Texas Motor Speedway has hoteliers in the Roanoke and northeast Fort Worth areas scrambling to mitigate the negative impact.

The Texas Motor Speedway announced March 16 plans to cancel three NASCAR races at the end of the month, and organizers for the Pate Swap Meet, one of the largest in the U.S., have followed city of Fort Worth recommendations to reschedule the large gathering from the end of April to October.

“Things are changing fast,” said Tina Patel, co-owner of Comfort Suites in Roanoke.

Comfort Suites remains open and is still accepting guests, but Patel has had to make drastic changes to day-to-day operations, she said.

The lack of events at the nearby speedway has cut her business in half from what it normally is this time of year, Patel said. And, although employees are willing to work, there are less shifts to go around, she said.

“I have lost all of my big events. All of the special events are gone in March, April and May. I need IndyCar in June,” she said, referring to an IndyCar race scheduled for June 6 at the speedway.

One silver lining is long-term tenants, which make up about 25% of the 88-room hotel’s current clientele. At the moment, there is enough revenue coming in to pay the bills, Patel said, but that depends on flexibility from the bank on mortgage payments.

In addition, she has instituted a number of changes at the hotel in order to decrease expenses, including not renting the top floor of the three-story building. Housekeeping services have also been limited to upon-request only, and select high-dollar items, such as Greek yogurt, have been removed as breakfast options.

While seeking to accommodate guests, Patel said she is trying to stay loyal to dedicated staff members who have faced payroll and shift cutbacks.

“How do we tell our guests that have been with us week after week that we're not going to clean your room?” Patel said. “I have been in the hotel business a little over 15 years, and I have never seen anything like this.”


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