Will Your Favorite Hotel Become a Hospital in the Pandemic?

WebMD Feature from Fodor's Travel Logo for Fodor's Travel

By Cameron Quincy Todd

For the hospitality industry, the financial blow of COVID-19 has been immediate—and painful. While tourism and travel grind to a halt, many hotels are shuttering locations and laying off thousands of employees; those still open are nearly vacant. Yet, in the midst of a public health crisis, hotels could become an important part of the relief.

As the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic hit much of the world over the last few weeks, hotels have begun to turn vacancies into an opportunity.

Extreme cases—wars, usually—can transform hotels into hospitals, an idea many countries are already implementing or considering. Other hotels—rather than sit idly by as occupancies dwindle—are volunteering their rooms and services to medical workers and patients, or working with local governments and organizations to become centers for relief efforts. Here’s how hotels are helping curb the crisis.

Hotels as Hospitals

In the United States, concern over a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity has government officials looking for alternatives: across the country, cities are considering plans to convert hotels into hospitals.

This effort, which would ease the burden for overcrowded ICU units and hospitals, has already been implemented in countries like Spain, where the death toll rose to 1,000 last week. According to Al-Jazeera, hotels like Ayre Gran Hotel Colon in Madrid have opened to COVID-19 patients; Spanish authorities report there are 60,000 more hotel rooms across Spain ready to go.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers, which has started scouting locations in New York City, would likely implement something similar to Spain, drawing up plans to quickly turn hotels, dorms, and convention centers into makeshift hospitals with quarantined areas and medical equipment—should they have to. The harsh reality underlying these plans is that cities, especially hard-hit ones like NYC, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, fear they won’t have enough hospital beds and medical care to host infected patients.

No locations in the United States have had to take such extreme measures just yet. But federal and local governments want to have a plan—a quick one—should hospitals reach dire straits. In the meantime, there are other practical ways to utilize hotels during the crisis–critical moves that don’t involve hauling in medical equipment and calling on the military–that some hotels are already implementing.

Continued

Hotels for Medical Workers

STAY Camden, outside of London, is taking action ahead of government intervention. The boutique hotel is now offering up its apartment-like lodgings to any medical workers looking for a place to quarantine. With an offer to host medical professionals for up to a month (for now), the apartments, with full kitchens and laundry, come with specialty care packages as well. Dotan Weiner, COO of LABS Collective, the UK-based hotel group, calls the opportunity to accommodate those working to fight COVID-19 “a privilege.”

“With the current uncertainty surrounding everyday lives,” Weiner says, “the need for a community hub of facilities and support has become more important than ever.”

The United States Army Corps of Engineers, which has started scouting locations in New York City, would likely implement something similar to Spain, drawing up plans to quickly turn hotels, dorms, and convention centers into makeshift hospitals with quarantined areas and medical equipment—should they have to. The harsh reality underlying these plans is that cities, especially hard-hit ones like NYC, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, fear they won’t have enough hospital beds and medical care to host infected patients.

No locations in the United States have had to take such extreme measures just yet. But federal and local governments want to have a plan—a quick one—should hospitals reach dire straits. In the meantime, there are other practical ways to utilize hotels during the crisis–critical moves that don’t involve hauling in medical equipment and calling on the military–that some hotels are already implementing.

Hotels for Medical Workers

STAY Camden, outside of London, is taking action ahead of government intervention. The boutique hotel is now offering up its apartment-like lodgings to any medical workers looking for a place to quarantine. With an offer to host medical professionals for up to a month (for now), the apartments, with full kitchens and laundry, come with specialty care packages as well. Dotan Weiner, COO of LABS Collective, the UK-based hotel group, calls the opportunity to accommodate those working to fight COVID-19 “a privilege.”

Continued

“With the current uncertainty surrounding everyday lives,” Weiner says, “the need for a community hub of facilities and support has become more important than ever.”

So, while you’re stuck at home, like many of us are, check out some resources that give to bars, restaurants, hotels, and their employees, as well as some simple ways to individually support the places you love until it’s safe to do it in person again.

Published on 4/2/2020

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