Beachfront hotels try to make the best of cancellations during historically busy season

Beachfront hotels and restaurants are some of the hardest-hit by the pandemic in the Bay Area and across the country, according to new data released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

About half of Florida's 740,000 hotel-supported jobs have been cut as a result of the pandemic, but there are some hotels trying their best to steer clear of any job cuts.

Managers at the Plaza Beach Hotel in St. Pete Beach say the month of May usually means big business, but they're dealing with massive cancellations and major sanitization changes, which are draining their bottom line.

"Reservations would just disappear via the phone and people could cancel online so it was just like 'cancel, cancel, cancel' and then it was like, 'What do we do, what do we do to support the team?'" assistant general manager Sheldon Blake said.

Blake started to take advantage of the hotel's low occupancy. He spent time updating rooms, remodeling, and making necessary repairs. Business still suffered but, so far, the hotel has decided not to cut any jobs.

"Our front desk people transitioned to work housekeeping and do a lot of deep cleaning before when we started to see an incline in all this and now we started to decline," Blake said.

Elsewhere, it isn't the same. According to data from the AHLA, nearly 50% of full-service hotels have closed over the past two months. Others like the Plaza Beach Hotel are still taking guests.

"It just didn't seem like it was as serious here as it was back home. You couldn't go anywhere without a mask. Here you have the option," hotel guest Wayne Jerman said.

Jerman and his wife, Audrey have been staying at the hotel for more than two months because they are afraid to make the drive home to Pennsylvania.

"I'm really concerned just to travel and to go into different hotels and to have to make a pit stop, gas stations, everyone said, 'Use your hand sanitizer,' but it's hard to come by," Audrey Jerman said.

The Plaza Beach Hotel has about 65 rooms, only 30 of which are currently open to guests. As of Monday night, 15 rooms were occupied.

If you feel sick:

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LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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