At the Bellmoor Inn & Spa in coastal Delaware, General Manager Benjamin Gray planned to welcome some longtime VIP guests to their 160th stay at the property since it opened 20 years ago. As a perk, the hotel is offering a memory foam mattress topper for the Virginia couple’s visits, and Mr. Gray ordered a new one last summer.
When the couple arrived for their New Year’s Eve almost six months later, the mattress topper had not yet been delivered. While they waited in the lobby, Mr. Gray dispatched an agent with a corporate credit card
Buy two pads for their guests to choose from. “We’re so sorry but due to the supply chain tightness we have, your other one isn’t here yet, will any of these work?” Mr. Gray remembered saying.
“And sure enough, they tried it, they picked one, we sent the other one back that they didn’t like, and we made it,” he said.
People go back to hotels. But with supply chain bottlenecks holding up goods and workers quitting, the industry must find new ways to be hospitable.
Hotels have been looking for mini bottles of shampoo, towels and sheets, cleaning supplies, appliances, and furniture – even plastic cups to serve up frozen pina coladas and champagne flutes for celebrations.
Some hotels are getting creative, such as trying to extend the life of towels by placing disposable facial tissue packs in rooms for makeup removal. Other managers have employees at nearby big box retailers like Target or. sent
for last minute purchases of bed linen and feather pillows.
Despite the record number of Covid-19 cases in the US fueled by the Omicron variant, people are flocking to beach resorts, ski huts and other leisure destinations. According to the hotel analysis company STR, hotel occupancy reached a record 47.2% on Christmas Day, just above the previous 47% in 2015. Demand continued into the week leading up to New Year’s Day.
Breakfast service at the Bellmoor Inn & Spa in Delaware.
Rachel Wisniewski for the Wall Street Journal
The library at the Bellmoor Inn. The hotel has dealt with supply chain bottlenecks.
Rachel Wisniewski for the Wall Street Journal
Meanwhile, a record high of 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this month, with the largest increase coming from housing and catering services. In other cases, employees who called in sick because of a Covid infection or exposure, the hotel managers continued to try to keep operations going.
In a recent survey, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, about 86% of hotels said that supply chain disruptions had a moderate or significant impact on operations.
In Southern California, the Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano had a New Year’s Eve event planned for up to 275 people, including 75 for an outdoor get-together with a live band and an 8:30 p.m. dinner for 200 people in its restaurant. Given the popularity of the Omicron variant, General Manager Pam Ryan said she had decided to downsize the congregation. The outdoor standing event was canceled and dinner ended with 100 guests spread out over the evening, which started earlier at 6:30 p.m. and began with outdoor seating.
“It’s about the money, but not always, is it?” Ms. Ryan said. “There is certainly a balance in these times, and we all had to learn that.”
Ms. Ryan said she’s had trouble tracking items, from branded pens to patio furniture, which are essential in the pandemic. She was unable to purchase black towels for guests to remove makeup so that white towels would not be stained. As an alternative, she has put disposable packs with disposable towels in the bathroom.
The Lani Kai Island Resort in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
Eve Edelheit for Wall Street
On the beaches of Fort Myers, Florida, the Lani Kai Island Resort, which has eight bars for hotel guests and beachgoers, nearly ran out of plastic cups to serve frozen pina coladas and rumrunners last year, said the resort’s marketing director Melissa Schneider. The hotel found another cup that was available and the drinks continued to flow.
In ski paradise Jackson, Wyoming, business in the word hotel surpassed pre-pandemic levels over the holidays, despite the fact that the workforce declined 15 to 20%, according to Jim Waldrop, president and general manager of Silver Dollar Inc. who owns the hotel. Mr Waldrop said he has focused on helping employees both financially and emotionally as they are challenged to do more with less.
“We may not have three bellboys at the door, it may take a little longer to get your room service, but most travelers have accepted this, at least for the time being,” said Mr. Waldrop. If everyone is healthy there will only be one carillon now, he said.
Ben Gray, General Manager of the Bellmoor Inn & Spa.
Rachel Wisniewski / For the Wall Street Journal
At Rehoboth Beach, Del., Mr. Gray said he vacuumed, ran a shuttle bus for guests, and took on other duties to help out during last year’s busy summer season. The hotel had relied on foreign college students to fill summer jobs. However, last year travel restrictions prevented most from arriving, leaving the property around 50% understaffed.
During the off-season, Mr. Gray said the hotel only went back about five positions, but he’s still looking for lots of items, including bespoke champagne flutes that arrived two weeks earlier. He has now said that he will be lucky to get her by May.
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