Orlando hotel owners asking for stimulus money

The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA)says 70% of Americans surveyed support passing additional economic stimulus for industries impacted by the pandemic, including hotels. With more than 450 resorts and hotels and resorts in Orlando, many say they need help

Micah Bass owns the Wyndham Travelodge off International Drive, in Orlando. He says he’ll be closing the 120 room motel next month because of the pandemic.

"The reality is, we have very few employees left and there’s no money to pay the bills."

All along I-Drive, hotels usually full of business but are now starving for guests.

"We’re struggling. The occupancy is below 10%, and just to break even on a hotel you need occupancy around 70-75%," says Chuck Whittall, who owns the Wyndham Orlando Resort on I-Drive.

According to the AHLA, the hotel industry is taking a hit nationwide. In Orlando, Whittall says it’s been especially devastating.

"We have thousands and thousands of hotel rooms on the International Drive area and I know Harris Rosen, he doesn’t have debt on his hotels and he’s had to lay off thousands of employees. It doesn’t matter how big you are, you’re not immune to this."

The AHLA is sending a letter to leaders in Congress asking for things like tax relief and extension of the Paycheck Protection Program.

"It would be nice if there was more PPP to be able to help the hotels out," Whittall says, adding that the ramifications to workers locally have a domino effect. "Then it trickles down. Then they can’t pay the rent in their apartment or pay mortgages on their homes."  

Whittall tells us he laid off 600 employees but would like to hire them back. He says since the cruise lines and airlines have gotten federal help, they should too.

"Hospitality is big in the United States so it would be nice if there’s something there." 

Bass says he already had federal help, but without business, there’s nothing else he can do.

"It was very helpful. Got me through this point. It’s four months now.  Doing $10,000 a month compared to $200,000 a month, there’s not really much I can do."

Whittall thinks hotels may need only three to five months of assistance, hoping there's a vaccine on the horizon.