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Lost jobs and canceled reservations: lodging industry feels COVID-19 impact

Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 20:35:54-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — For the last three summers, Colorado Springs' west side has largely been congested by traffic cones, making things difficult for business owners.

With the project complete near Colorado Avenue and 30th, Lizabeth Salinas thought this summer would make business a little easier for the Mecca Motel she and her husband have owned and managed for 42 years.

"Reservations picked up, advanced reservations really picked up, it looked good and then this happened," said Salinas, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed their seasonal opening on April 10th. Salinas is hoping she'll be able to open by the end of May.

"It's disheartening, it's disappointing there's nothing we can do about it," Salinas said, "every time the phone rings, I'm pretty sure it's a cancellation."

Salinas is one of many business owners making some challenging decisions, while Salinas runs the motel with her family- the number of days they'll be open until the end of October is dwindling. The lodging industry in some cases is taking a bigger hit than other industries, as they struggle to find ways to stay afloat.

Unlike gyms or restaurants offering virtual services or take out for food, Salinas says there's not a whole lot they can do at this point.

Salinas says she's been contacted by some health care providers about potentially using her motel as an overflow for hospitals, she says she's applied and has not heard anything yet.

The impact is evident in layoffs happening in Colorado Springs as well. The Worker Readjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notices by the state show a few layoffs in Colorado Springs since March 16th, three of which are hotels and some have closed. The Broadmoor, Great Wolf Lodge, and Colorado Springs Marriott. A spokesperson with the Marriott says they are not laying workers off, but have furloughed workers- some for as many as 60 days.

Without hotels in business, city government in Colorado Springs is preparing for a loss of potential revenue collected from the Lodgers and Automobile Renters Tax (LART) fund. The money is used to fund various events that contribute to tourism in Colorado Springs.

"We are certainly expecting theLART fund will be down just like sales taxes are down," said City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler, "we're all just kind of waiting to see what happens with this crisis."

The uncertainty is something Gaebler says they'll have a better idea of as collection periods for the fund happen. While the LART fund contributes money to events such as Pikes Peak Hill Climb and Labor Day Lift Off, there's even uncertainty about when some of those events will happen.

As of Wednesday, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb is postponed until August 30th.