Saturday, October 16

Empty hotels for Christmas in Benidorm and the Costa Blanca

An image of the interior of one of the few hotels in Benidorm that are open

An image of the interior of one of the few hotels in Benidorm that are open

Tourism closes a disastrous year. The few hotels in Benidorm and the Costa Blanca that are still open are going to experience the most atypical Christmas in their history this year. The transfer of customers, purchases and special menus has been replaced by cancellations and few, very few reservations, which together with the restrictions and the increase in infections will end up giving the final touch to the worst year for the sector.

If everything were the same as before, these days the hotels on the Costa Blanca would be immersed in a coming and going of last minute reservations, tourists with suitcases, delivery trucks, ironing of table linens saved for the occasion and preparing special menus with the than delighting the thousands of customers who would have chosen to spend Christmas or welcome in the New Year with the comfort of not having to worry about anything other than being happy. If there were no viruses, these days the establishments would be a bustle of parties, hugs, kisses, selfies and streamers. And the hotels would have been able to sell stays and menus at prices much higher than those of a regular holiday, to encourage their income statement a little more towards the end of the year. Nothing is further from reality.

The new strain of the virus detected in the United Kingdom, the closure of borders with that country, the perimeter confinement of the Community and the rapid escalation of infections in the last two weeks have ended up putting the finishing touches on a “disastrous” year for the industry holiday in the province, which will have its climax in these days of Christmas. Cancellations and hotels practically empty are the trend in a sector that, according to its actors, could lead to the closure of the few establishments that are still open once January begins. “We are in a very, very complicated situation”, point out some of those who were described last Wednesday by the president of Hosbec, Toni Mayor, as the “heroes of the sector”: those who still have open beds or who will carry out works this winter reform of its establishments, with an investment that, according to the employer’s association, will as a whole exceed 60 million euros.

More cancellations than reservations

Unlike in the years before the pandemic, when many establishments hung the “complete” sign during the Christmas holidays, the most optimistic forecasts suggest that occupancy will barely exceed 25% on average in the few hotels that are operating . In Benidorm, a dozen.

One of them is the Belroy hotel, a four-star superior hotel managed by Hotels GF. “The day we have the most occupancy is New Year’s Eve, we will be at 18% occupancy”, which translates into about 40 clients for the 200 places they keep open in one wing of the hotel, according to its CEO, Fede Fuster . “Until a few weeks ago there were more reservations, everything looked better, but in recent days nothing is being sold and we do not stop receiving cancellations. People are afraid, “says Fuster.

An image of the interior of one of the few hotels in Benidorm that are open David Revenga

Like this establishment, other hotels in the city are this year offering more than ever stays or lunches and gala dinners for residents of Benidorm or the region, but the restrictions imposed to curb infections, such as the curfew at 12 the night on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, they don’t help much. “People do not go out to dinner if they have to run home to have the grapes or, in the case of clients who are staying, if they cannot have them in the banquet hall because before 12 o’clock they have to be at the room ”, laments the CEO of Hotels GF.

The same say other directors or hotel owners consulted, who do not understand that tourists are not allowed to, at least, follow the bells in hotel dining rooms “when having about 50 people in a room with capacity for 400 is more guaranteed that distances are kept.

The lack of reserves will also mean that these days the establishments that continue to operate will not be able to incorporate ERTE workers into their workforce, as many of them had anticipated if there was a peak of occupation. On the contrary, most of these hotels will continue to work with a fair staff, with the personnel strictly necessary to cover the service without compromising quality. “Among the few who are working we have to do a little almost everything; We have no other choice ”, the receptionist of a central establishment in Benidorm tells this newspaper.

Once the holidays are over, the hotels will return to do numbers and some would be considering the closure, which would cause a hotel lock similar to that experienced during the days of confinement. “If after Christmas there has always been a historically low occupation, this year is going to be abysmal”, indicate sources from the Hosbec employer’s association. “These hotels have been working at a loss for months; remaining open being completely empty would not make sense.

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