Hotelier Walt Worthy announced Monday he has closed four of five hotels in Spokane because of a lack of business and will be redirecting all of his clients to stay in The Davenport Grand Hotel.
Worthy said at peak times, The Historic Davenport, The Davenport Tower, The Davenport Grand, The Davenport Lusso and The Centennial by Davenport Hotels, employs between 1,200 and 1,500 people. That number is now down to about 100.
With Spokane set to be a host site for the men’s NCAA Tournament games Thursday through Saturday, Worthy said all of his hotels, which have a combined occupancy of 1,875, had been reserved before the event was abruptly canceled last week.
“We were overbooked for this weekend,” Worthy said. “Now we are closing four of five hotels. We went through 9/11 and 2008. We’ll get through this, too.”
However, the closures mean hundreds of workers will be without jobs.
“We have had some temporary layoffs as you might have guessed,” Worthy said. “That’s subject to change. If we wind up with more business, we’ll call some people back.”
But the initial layoffs this week are much greater than the minor job losses during the Great Recession, he said.
“We had 12 rooms last night at the Centennial that weren’t airlines crews. That’s 12 rooms for the general public out of 411 rooms,” he said. “It just made a lot more sense to consolidate everything at the Grand.”
Up until last week, Worthy’s five hotels had reported occupancy rates were up 15 percent this year over 2019. But virtually every banquet and convention has been canceled or postponed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is unprecedented,” Worthy said. “I’m not the only one. It’s happening in Seattle, too.”
As for the laid-off employees, Worthy said he has agreed to pay for their health insurance through April 1.
“We are going to call everybody back as soon as we can,” he said. “We just don’t have any business right now.”
In a company statement, Davenport Hotels’ spokesman Matt Jensen said the company has closed all of its restaurants, lounges, the spa, retail outlets, fitness centers and pools except those at The Davenport Grand based on Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency proclamation Sunday.
“We are following the guidelines and joining the efforts of local and state governments to keep these entities closed for two weeks, or until further notice,” the statement said. “We are working with local officials to have precautions and limitations in place in order to protect both our hotel guests and associates.”