Industry Update
External Article29 October 2021

NYC’s catastrophic hotel crisis isn’t ending anytime soon

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A happy ending is in sight to the Big Apple’s hotel industry catastrophe — just wait until 2026!


“I am supremely optimistic for five years from now,” said Vijay Dandapani, president of the Hotel Association of New York. But the short- and medium-term outlooks are another story.

“The key thing is that international travel is not here yet” and there’s no way to know when it will fully return, despite President Biden’s plan to reduce restrictions by some time in November, Dandapani said.

The beleaguered industry’s plight is epic in scope. Of the city’s total 700 hotels pre-pandemic, about 250 either closed or were converted to homeless shelters.

Average occupancy fell from over 80% in 2019 to 33% early this year (it has since upticked to 45%, Dandapani said). By comparison, occupancy never fell below 60% during the earlier crises of 9/11 and the 2008 Wall Street crash.

Room rates have fallen 60% since 2019. A further looming shadow over the business is a flood of new rooms — possibly more than 18,000 — in projects that were started prior to 2020 and are on track to open this year or soon after, including at such marquee-branded properties as the Virgin Hotel, Ritz-Carlton Nomad, the Arlo Midtown and Hard Rock near Times Square.

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