The phones at the Fitzpatrick Hotel in Midtown are ringing more often lately. After dropping to 10% during the height of the pandemic, occupancy levels have shot up to 30%.
Owner John Fitzpatrick recently reopened the location he closed last year. He also just rehired 35 of the 130 employees he was forced to lay off.
“To lay off staff that’s been with you for 30 years and tell them when you’re coming back, and we didn’t know, that was kind of the worst of it,” said Fitzpatrick.
As domestic travelers return, Fitzpatrick expects business to continue to pick up, but it could be another year before he fully rebounds.
“Two years ago we were doing $350, $400 a night. At this stage, we’re at $110, $115, so it’s going to take awhile to climb up,” said Fitzpatrick.
According to the Hotel Association of New York City, occupancy dropped to 14% citywide during the height of the pandemic. At least 50 to 60 hotels have permanently closed and 45,000 hotel workers lost their jobs.
Vijay Dandapani, the president and CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City, said thanks to the return of domestic travelers, occupancy has climbed to about 30%. But without international and business travelers, he thinks the industry may not fully recover for at least another four years.
“The business traveler was the highest source of revenue for hotels, just as it is for airlines. Because they travel last minute, they pay full price,” said Dandapani.
Dandapani said once Broadway reopens in September business will pick up even more.
Fitzpatrick is also optimistic, for his hotels and the the city.
“This is New York City. It’s the greatest city in the world and it will come back,” said Fitzpatrick.