Pandemic closes several of the country’s top hotels and some may never reopen, industry expert says

Oct 1, 2020 | 10 comments

Employees of Quito’s JW Marriott Hotel were denied entry to hotel facilities Wednesday following the announcement that the hotel would be not reopen for at least six months. Those attempting to enter the building say they have unanswered questions about their employment and compensation status.

The JW Marriott Hotel in Quito

The Quito Marriott is the latest of the large hotels in Ecuador to announce they are closing temporarily or permanently. “The Covid pandemic has been devastating to hotels and to the hospitality and tourism industries in general and we are just beginning to receive official word of closures,” says André Obiol, president of the Ecuador Hotel Federation. “At this point, we don’t know the full extent of the damage since many hotels and hostals remain closed but have not announced their intentions.”

Obiol says the closing of 4- and 5-start hotels is particularly disturbing, since they are the “public image” of tourism in the country. Among other top hotels that say they have no immediate plans to reopen are Plaza Grande, Best Western Plaza and Akros in Quito and Mansion Alcazar in Cuenca. “Few are saying the closures are permanent but we know that liquidation proceedings are underway in some cases.”

JW Marriott employees say they were informed Monday that the hotel would close for six months but were given no information about how we can collect severance pay and other benefits. “They told us there would be options for unpaid leave and a process for rehiring when they reopen but we didn’t receive the details,” one worker said.

Workers have hired attorneys to file complaints with the Ministry of Labor and national Ombudsman’s Office and plan more meetings on Friday and Saturday.

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“The hotel business is in limbo these days, not just in Ecuador but around the world,” says Obiol. “Hotels that are open in Ecuador have 10 to 15 percent occupancy, which is not sustainable, and this is why many establishments have decided to remain closed.”

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