In March, the Ayres Hotel’s occupancy was slashed by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, but the hotel soon became a haven for traveling health care workers.
“When the pandemic started, hotels were turning their backs on health care workers,” said Ayres General Manager Marissa Kramer. “They didn’t want to put their guests or employees at risk. We were the first to create an aggressive cleanliness protocol. Because of that, we were awarded a Request for Proposal at the end of April for the state health care worker system. We embraced them when other hotels turned their backs. A lot of these people were on the front lines.
“The Ayres has been these workers’ home for the better part of the pandemic,” continued Kramer.
“At one point, we had the entire staff of the Brookside skilled nursing facility. We have also had employees from Loma Linda Medical Center and Redlands Community Hospital. There has been a lot of coming and going.”
Kramer said the Ayres had the best occupancy in years. Not only was the hotel serving health care workers but also firefighters and linemen during the recent wildfires.
“We still have linemen here who are restoring power in the mountain communities,” said Kramer.
The occupancy tax that goes into the city’s general fund took a hit as well.
“The occupancy tax is 10%, but when a guest stays for more than 30 days, the room becomes tax-exempt,” said Kramer. “The health care workers and firefighters were here for months. The occupancy tax is also based on the room rate, which we lowered.”
Esri is one of the Ayres’ top corporate accounts, but the company stopped all travel when the pandemic hit. Wedding parties and families visiting the University of Redlands were also some of the hotel’s biggest moneymakers that no longer were making reservations.
“Thankfully, between health care workers and firefighters, we were booked,” said Kramer.
Though occupancy is the best it has been in years, revenue is still struggling.
“We dropped our rates to increase occupancy,” said Kramer. “We had to make up for March and April. Historically, April brings the highest Gross Operating Profit of the year because of the Redlands Bicycle Classic and university graduation. When those were canceled, we had to get creative.”