Coronavirus in the United States: After several years of “boom”, the luxurious hotels of New York mourn the loss of the jet set

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In addition to foreign tourists, who accounted for almost a quarter of visitors before the pandemic, there are almost no American visitors anymore because the city forces everyone who arrives to quarantine for 14 days.

They booked a thousand dollar room and they arrived that same day at the prestigious Pierre Hotel in New York, two hours by car from their home: John Farrell and his wife are part of the new local clientele of the large New York hotels, which are trying to adapt as they can to the coronavirus after years of boom.

The jet set is over, the mixture of languages ​​and the ballet of luxurious trucks and limousines in front of this Central Park hotel, famous for its gala evenings and its suites that once hosted Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor or, more recently, Lady Gaga and the protagonists of the film “Ocean’s 8”.

After six months of closure, from a paralysis of tourism and business trips, this jewel of the Taj hotel group reopened in mid-September, but it is only the shadow of what it was.

“It’s like in the streetsThat lack of movement, lack of people, “says John Farrell, 38, a construction entrepreneur who lives in Nassau County, Long Island.

In general at this time New York hotels are full, despite the fact that a room for two people costs on average $ 300 a night.

“It starts in late August with the US Open, then the UN General Assembly, every convention possible and imaginable, the fundraising evenings, the fall weddings, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years … No for “, François Luiggi lists, manager of this 189-room hotel and 80 apartments owned by wealthy individuals.

In addition to foreign tourists, who accounted for almost a quarter of visitors before the pandemic, there are almost no American tourists anymore because New York forces a quarantine from 14 days to all visitors that comes from states with a rate of positive tests for covid-19 higher than 10% (34 states currently).

Instead of coming by plane, from Europe or California, now guests arrive in their cars from nearby places for a short “staycation”, 24 to 48 hours, many times to see relatives, Luiggi explains.

And the hotel does not exceed the 25% occupancy rate, Luiggi points out, although he does not despair. “The Pierre has been around for 90 years, and will be here for 90 more years,” he says.

Not all hotels can say the same.

About 200 of the 700 hotels in New York are closed today, and about 140 They only take in health personnel and people exposed to the virus who cannot quarantine at home, or homeless people – the bill is paid by the municipal government – since the shelters have closed as a result of the pandemic, underlines Vijay Dandapani, President of the New York Hotel Association.

Hotels that host guests have an average occupancy rate of 10%, indicates.

While Europe “benefits at least in part from intra-European tourism, we have nothing,” he says.

Some have thrown in the towel forever, like the famous Hilton in Times Square.

It is a brutal fall for the Big Apple, which in recent years witnessed opening tens hotels in Manhattan, but also in nearby neighborhoods in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

With a record annual number of tourists every year, with more than 65 million in 2018, the investment was tempting. And it served the city: Last year it received $ 3.1 billion in taxes paid by hotels, according to Dandapani.

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