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Superstorm Sandy: Hotels damaged, bookings cancelled

Guests fill hotel lobby during SandyThe US hotel market has already been struggling somewhat due to slow demand, but Superstorm Sandy is expected to slow revenues even more. Sunstone Hotel Investors and Host Hotels & Resorts (which run the Hilton Times Square and Westin New York Grand Central respectively), along with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, are just a few hotel chains that will be most affected by the storm. This is because they have many properties in the Northeast of the US.

Hotels in New York City’s lower Manhattan area, including the W New York Downtown and New York Marriott Downtown, have been closed. Other operating in the city prepared guests by providing bottled water, safety information and flashlights. They even planned entertainment for visitors who were stranded.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has 36 venues in and around New York City (including the St Regis New York), as well as 19 properties in the Boston area. It closed its downtown W hotel in New York as part of the mandatory evacuation. After a crane nearby partially collapsed from the top of a tall building, the hotel chain also had to close the Le Parker Meridien. The group said in an email that some other hotels across the region were experiencing power and telephone outages. However, they are using back-up systems and generators. In some cases, guests were being relocated to some of its other venues.

Marriott International New York City spokeswoman Kathleen Duffy said that their Marriott Downtown property and the Ritz-Carlton New York in Battery Park were closed due to mandatory evacuations in the city’s low-lying areas. The downtown hotel had become flooded, with the water rising up to the doorknob on the lobby entrance. She could hear the general manager talk about the flood waters coming while she was on the phone with him as the storm hit.

Duffy also said that Marriott has had bookings cancelled at is New York City hotels, including a dinner for several hundred. The venues that are still open are more than 80% full with guests who have been stranded by the storm, travellers arriving before the marathon this Sunday and recovery crews working to bring the city back to a semblance of normal.

Elsewhere, Starwood Hotels & Resorts was forced to close its Atlantic City Sheraton hotel as part of an evacuation order. The venue is being used for emergency workers to gather and plan their rescue efforts.

Casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey were only slightly damaged and were able to reopen with 24 hours notice, said Tropicana Entertainment president and chief executive Anthony Rodio. He says damage was more substantial to the boardwalk and streets of the city, which were lined with debris. Atlantic City came out of the storm pretty well compared to more northern and southern communities. He doesn’t think any casinos sustained significant damage, which isn’t nearly as devastating as what he’s seen in other parts of the state. It’s too soon to assess the financial impact on casinos.

Caesars Entertainment spokesman Gary Thompson says that some of roofs of their properties in Atlantic City were extensively damaged by the wind. Local teams are working as fast as they can to finish assessing the damage. They are the biggest casino owner in the city, with four properties – Caesars, Showboat, Bally’s and Harrah’s.

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