Retooling Hotels

I hear that the Hilton Hotel in Times Square is closing because of slow business from the drop in tourism. Here in my own very tourist-oriented beach town, as in other places, hotel occupancy is way down.

According to an industry report quoted in the article linked above, “hotel occupancy in urban markets was 38% in August, well below the 50% it takes for most properties to break even.”

Since the pandemic started, I’ve had this idea that hotels could retool themselves as apartment buildings. They’d get less per-night revenue, but steady occupancy. And they’d have much lower payroll costs, even if they chose to keep some staff (for example, to offer concierge laundry services, maid service for an extra fee, etc).

The apartments, being hotel rooms, would not have full kitchens, but they could easily have microwave ovens, mini fridges. A lot of hotel rooms have those already.

Tourism (at least the hotel-centered kind) may be on the down-swing, but a lot of cities have housing shortages. Hotels converted into micro apartments — a sort of upscale version of SRO, if you will — could help fill the gap.

(SRO = Single Room Occupancy. A type of dwelling that used to be more common on the urban landscape than it is now. A multi-storey building of small, minimally furnished bed/sitting rooms, with communal toilets/showers at the end of the hall. An inexpensive option for a roof over one’s head. What I proposed for the hotels would be an upscale version of this.)