When The Whitney Hotel Boston opened at the end of June 2019, no one could have ever anticipated the pandemic and how it would impact business for the fledgling luxury hotel.
The 65-room hotel at 170 Charles St., which was developed by Boston-based Related Beal and is operated by Hersha Hospitality Management of Harrisburg, Pa., reopened July 1 after closing more than three months earlier when Gov. Charlie Baker issued his mandate that temporarily shuttered all hotels throughout the Commonwealth. During this time, The Whitney didn’t receive any loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program and was instead forced to furlough most of its approximately 25-person staff from April 1 to June 30, except for a few members who stayed working on site during that time to maintain the hotel and its basic operations, said Kimberly Lowthers, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.
According to the Pinnacle Advisory Group, a Boston-based asset-management firm for hotels, occupancy rates at Boston and Cambridge hotels were down 82.7 percent in June from the same month in 2019 while the average daily rate for a hotel room in these cities in June declined 55.1-percent from the same month last year.
As a relative newcomer to the city’s hotel scene, The Whitney is still in what Lowthers calls “ramp-up time,” but she said during “the first quarter until Gov. Baker’s March 23 announcement, we were slated to do relatively well.”
And now that the hotel has reopened, Lowthers is again optimistic about its future.
“We are beyond grateful as the overall response to the opening a year ago and reopening this past July 1 has been heartwarming,” she said. “We will continue to embrace the community and provide exceptional experiences and service so that for a moment in time our guests will be able to get away from it all and enjoy all that The Whitney and Boston have to offer.”
The Whitney is also still benefitting from the excitement and what Lowthers describes as the initial “awareness campaign” surrounding its grand opening and ongoing marketing efforts and promotions, such as a new, limited-time 20-percent “Welcome Return” offer off the hotel’s best possible rates, as well a special discounted rate for Beacon Hill residents in appreciation of the neighborhood’s support for the hotel.
While corporate bookings are currently nearly non-existent, Lowthers said leisure travel, including “‘stay-cations’ to visit family members,” is now accounting for “steady growth” in the hotel’s occupancy.
“There are those are special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays and bar/bat mitzvahs that will always be celebrated on some level,” Lowthers said, “and we’re still in the summer months so family vacations are still being planned.”
The hotel also continues to attract patrons with special offerings like its “Whitney on the Water,” which offers guests the opportunity to charter a sailboat or yacht excursion on the nearby Charles River via Boston Charter Boats.
Meanwhile, like all of the other hotels in Hersha’s portfolio, The Whitney has implemented the corporation’s five-point “Rest Assured” cleanliness program based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization (WHO) and American Hotel and Lodging Association, and trained all of its staff members on this new safety protocol.
“There are safety measures put in place by our hotel and in the hotel industry [to keep people safe],” Lowthers said, “and people will still travel for experience and celebrations so we have created packages and special room offers that are suitable for them to get out and about, or to get a moment away and not worry about anything.”
Visit whitneyhotelboston.com for more information.