March 17, 2020 | 10:03pm
The Baccarat Hotel in Manhattan.
Annie Wermiel/NY Post
Major hotel chains are closing en masse, for the first time in history, because of the coronavirus — prompting requests for aid from President Trump.
The New York Hilton Midtown on Sixth Avenue — the Big Apple’s largest hotel — will close its 1,929 rooms indefinitely starting on March 20, sources said. Meanwhile, the luxury Baccarat hotel on West 53rd Street will turn off the lights on March 21 — along with scores of other NYC lodging properties, sources said.
The closures, which industry sources are calling “unprecedented,” prompted a meeting Tuesday between President Trump and the heads of several large hotel companies. At the meeting, Hilton Chief Executive Christopher Nassetta told Trump that the publicly traded Hilton Worldwide plans to close hotels in most of its major US cities as occupancy rates decline to the single digits.
“Hilton’s been around 100 years — we’ve never closed a hotel that wasn’t going to be demolished or rebuilding,” Nassetta said, according to Bloomberg.
Hotel execs from Hyatt, Marriott, Best Western and a slew of others want to be included in plans for a federal relief package, arguing that 1 in every 25 jobs is directly supported by the hotel industry. Some 4 million total jobs will be lost in the next few weeks, American Hotel & Lodging Association, a trade group, said.
The coronavirus is already on track to do more damage to the industry than the disruptions that followed the attacks of 9/11 and the Great Recession, experts say.
NYC hotel occupancy rates post-9/11 dropped to a low of 74 percent, and to 79 percent after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, according to Sean Hennessey, president of Lodging Advisors, a consulting firm, and a New York University professor of hospitality.
“Some hoteliers are running 5 percent occupancies over the past week,” Hennessey said.
A Hilton spokesperson declined to say when its massive 47-story Midtown property would reopen, but says it’s in the process of notifying guests.