COVID-19 pandemic deals devastating blow to San Antonio’s hotel industry

Hotel Emma CEO: ‘Easter Weekend is non-existent’

SAN ANTONIO – In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the elegant charm of Hotel Emma remains, but no one except for two guests Thursday were there to experience the beauty.

“Our occupancy rate is minimal, next to nothing," Hotel Emma CEO Bill Petrella said.

Petrella laughed when he was asked about the outlook for one of the hotel’s usually busiest weekends.

“Easter weekend is nonexistent when we would be thriving,” he said.

Petrella said the situation has been devastating for San Antonio’s hotel industry.

"It's really just scary, unprecedented, unimaginable times that we are all facing," he said. "We're trying to get through it the best way we can."

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Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio, the sales and marketing arm of the city of San Antonio, said 19 conventions and almost 115,000 room reservations have been cancelled. Matej said the projected loss in revenue is $65.6 million.

Yet, tourism had been San Antonio’s third-largest industry, she said, with an estimated $15.2 billion financial impact.

“When the recovery occurs, tourism and hospitality will be a major player in driving our economy,” she said. “It’s important we be ready and positioned to be a strong as possible.”

For now, Petrella said in addition to take-out meals, Hotel Emma has opened “The Larder.”

“We do have a grocery store that is helping serve the community,” he said. “That’s essentially where our business is today.”

Even so, Petrella said hotels have rebounded after difficult times, but as this is now unprecedented.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


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