Hotels Transformed New York’s Social Life. Now What?


The hotel first opened on Sept. 10, 2001, and catered to the Hamptons Magazine/Ocean Drive set. “Impeccable timing,” he said.

But after the disaster that followed, the enemy was clear, the devastation finite.

Capitalism became a cause, with elected leaders imploring people in 2001 to “get out there, go to restaurants, spend money. The idea was don’t let the terrorists win,” Mr. Pomeranc said. “Now we’re being forced into the opposite reaction. In order to beat this thing, we have to not go out.”

He thinks travelers will return to New York, but maybe not this summer. And there are an awful lot of people like Mr. Baitz, who said that dining in a clubby restaurant “with everyone in masks feels too close to the Roger Corman version of Edgar Allan Poe for my liking.”

Before the coronavirus and now, “during our much needed reconsideration of our relationship to law enforcement, so much feels like those horrid people in the big city in ‘The Hunger Games.’”

And hotel management is a difficult business, highly leveraged with low margins.

“Pretty much every hotel is restructuring their debt,” said Sean Hennessey, who runs Lodging Advisors, a travel consultancy that’s worked for storied names like the St. Regis and the Plaza. “They either need to get more equity pumped in to sustain themselves, or they need to reach an agreement with lenders to get their debt extended.”

“Unlike office buildings, where leases typically last for five to 10 years, hotels have guests for an average of a night and a half,” he said. “That’s why whenever there’s a downturn they are one of the first industries that gets walloped, along with airlines and cruise ships.”



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