PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The closure of business to cope with the coronavirus pandemic has not spared the region’s hotels but a local group is coming through for them in a big way.
Occupancy rates have dramatically declined as people forgo travel plans. Just one in four Washington County hotel rooms is now occupied on any given night.
The Washington County Visitor’s Association was one of the first local agencies to come to the aid of its 57 hotel members. The association gave each hotel $10,000 five weeks ago in an attempt to keep hotels from closing and to help support workers.
“A majority of our hotel properties actually used the dollars—we encouraged them to use the dollars—and that was to help furloughed, existing laid-off employees,” said Carolyn McCormick, the CEO of the Washington County Visitor’s Association.
One hotel used the money to buy gift cards for the employees it was forced to furlough as visitor traffic slowed, McCormick said. Some money has been used to fun operations and pay utility bills—anything they needed to stay open.
“Every check was hand-delivered to every hotel,” she said. “There were general managers that were speechless. There were folks that were crying and of course we couldn’t touch anybody or do any hugs—just hand the check with the letter and it really felt good.”
One of those checks came to Tiffany Block, the general manager of Hillsboro boutique hotel Aloft.
“It was huge. It was very unexpected and very well received and I’m sure I can speak to all other Washington County hotels as well,” Block said.
The good news is 54 of Washington County’s 57 hotels are still open—thanks to the money from the WCVA, ongoing construction projects and major employers like Nike and Intel still flying people in from other parts of the world.
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