John FitzPatrick’s Manhattan hotel reopens after 13-month closure
‘It’s baby steps from here. It takes a while to get it up to speed again and to rebuild business’
The Fitzpatrick Manhattan hotel on Lexington Hotel in New York. The hotel reopened on Monday, having been mothballed for the past 13 months due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Irish hotelier John Fitzpatrick reopened his Fitzpatrick Manhattan hotel on Lexington Avenue in New York city on Monday, some 13 months after closing the property due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
By late morning, the hotel group had sold 19 of its 91 bedrooms.
“It doesn’t sounds great but we’re very happy with it,” Mr Fitzpatrick told The Irish Times.
“It’s baby steps from here. It’s nice to see it open again . . . the lights had been off for 13 months. It takes a while to get it up to speed again and to rebuild business.”
He said business was mostly leisure (people in other parts of the US travelling to New York for a break) with a “small bit of corporate”, adding that there is still little by way of international travel to the city and no Irish travelling to the city.
The hotel has about $150,000 (€124,000) worth of bookings for May and Mr Fitzpatrick is hopeful that the group’s occupancy rate will rise to 50 per cent in June and to 60-65 per cent in July and August, driven by the domestic market.
He is hoping that September will see another step up in business with Broadway shows set to resume, the US Open tennis being hosted, and the UN General Assembly pencilled in for that month.
“Broadway is a bit crutch for us...it’s a huge attraction.”
New York’s economy is slowly reopening having been heavily impacted by Covid over the past year. More than two million cases of Covid have been recorded in the state, with about 51,500 deaths from the virus.
Its vaccination programme has picked up pace in recent months, with more than 70,000 people a day now receiving jabs.
Just under eight million people in the state have had a first dose of the vaccine and more than six million are now fully vaccinated, with the programme open to those aged 16 or older.
“All of my staff have been vaccinated,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
Mr Fitzpatrick has two hotels in New York. The Fitzpatrick Grand Central has remained open throughout, hosting Aer Lingus crew, essential workers and a small number of visitors to the city. The 150-bedroom hotel had been recording low occupancy rates though it sold 70 bedrooms last Friday night and “62 rooms last night”.
Average room rates are also nudging up, from a rock-bottom $99 a night to between $120-140 a night this month.
“I don’t want to give a false read on this but it’s going in the right direction. The demand is slowly coming. It will pay the costs and keep the hotel running.”
Mr Fitzpatrick said the group’s revenues declined by 90 per cent last year due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on New York city.
“As long as the vaccination programme keeps going, it gives us hope that business will come back again.”