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Hotels across the Valley are feeling the crushing effects of COVID-19

Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix
Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 21:46:55-04

PHOENIX — Hotels across the Valley are feeling the crushing effects of COVID-19.

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"We got the email about how summer had come early and we were going to have fewer hours," said Laura Perez who has been working at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix for about a year and half. She was recently laid off and she is not alone. Thousands of Arizonans working in the hotel industry have either been laid off or had their hours severely cut.

"Devastating. I don't think we've seen anything like this," said Danna Schneider with Unite Here Local 11, the union representing workers at several major Valley hotels.

Schneider says at one major downtown Phoenix hotel, typically about 15 housekeepers would be working. On Tuesday, there were only two. Food and beverage service at some hotels have been cut altogether. Occupancy rates are now in the single digits when they should be in the high 90s.

The Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association says this quarter alone is what keeps the hotels and staff afloat for the rest of the year.

"They know how to survive in this economy and so they work like crazy during the season so that they can get through the summer," said Schneider.

Perez agrees. "That's kind of what's a little bit extra worrisome for us in Phoenix," said Perez.

"This is our busy season. This is when we're making the money that's going to get us through the summer but now people are using their paid time off to make up for hours no So when summer comes we're going to be even a worse position."

One hotel manager told ABC15 some of the conventions that were booked but were forced to cancel have already rescheduled for next year which at this point could not come soon enough.