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Boston Hotels, Gutted By Pandemic, May Take Years To Rebound

Hotels in the Boston area were hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic than just about any other major U.S. city, and the recovery could take years, hospitality industry officials said.

The occupancy rate in Boston and Cambridge fell to less than 26% last year, driving revenue per available room — the performance measure used in the industry — down more than 80%, according to the hotel consultant Pinnacle Advisory Group, The Boston Globe reported Monday. Only New York fared worse.

The area's hotels are projected to hit 42% occupancy this year, half of what it was in 2019, while hotel revenues aren’t expected to get back to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.

About 8,000 hotel employees in the area are still out of work.

The Omni Parker House in Boston, which dates to 1855, fully reopened on Wednesday, but still has no food or beverage service, while international and corporate travelers are almost nonexistent, management said.

The hotel had 350 workers before the pandemic.

“Given the trajectory of the business that we see now,” general manager John Murtha said, “I think it will take us two-and-a-half to three years to get back to that level.”

More than a dozen hotels in Boston and Cambridge remain closed, including the 1,200-room Sheraton Boston Hotel, the biggest property in the city.

At least six Boston-area hotels have let go a large proportion of their staffs, resulting in more than 800 permanent layoffs, according to the hospitality workers union, Unite Here Local 26. Other hotels may operate with fewer employees even after the pandemic eases, the union said.

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