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New data gives St. Louis hotel operators hope that business is returning

"Our reservations are already trending up," said Amy Gill, CEO of Restoration St. Louis. "Everyone recognizes we have to do business."
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — Revenue at St. Louis-area hotels fell quickly in the early days of the pandemic, prompting many to lay off and furlough staff.

Now new data suggests the worst may be behind them — or at least business may be turning in the right direction.

In the first week of April, revenue per available room (RevPAR), a standard benchmark for hotels, plummeted 85.2% compared to the same period last year. By the end of the month, the decline was just 76.7%. Occupancy was 24.4% by the last week of April, an improvement from the first week when occupancy fell to 18.7%, according to data from STR, a global hotel research firm.

While the numbers are still dismal compared to a normal year, it lends credence to hoteliers' beliefs that the economy is slowly returning. Meanwhile, an upward trend in future bookings leads them to believe that the "hype" of an extended work-from-home culture me be just that.

"Our reservations are already trending up. Even my friends who I call road warriors are getting back on the road," said Amy Gill, CEO of Restoration St. Louis, which owns Hotel Saint Louis in downtown St. Louis. "Everyone recognizes we have to do business."

That sentiment is shared by other hoteliers, including Maryland Heights-based Midas Hospitality CEO David Robert and Brentwood-based Equis Hotels CEO Mike Mullenix.

"This shift in more people working from home doesn't mean they aren't traveling," Robert said. "Business travel will be the first to come back. People will want and need to travel."

Mullenix expects the region's health care institutions to drive a lot of the hotel stays. Mullenix's Homewood Suites in Richmond Heights and Fairfield Inn in Downtown West receive many guests who work in medical sales as well as patients from all over the world who come for care at Saint Louis University Hospital and BJC. 

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