Taiwan hotels shutter entire floors amid coronavirus outbreak

Hotel managers still expect a rebound in April

The Grand Hi-Lai Hotel in Kaohsiung. 

The Grand Hi-Lai Hotel in Kaohsiung.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Hotels in Taiwan have been shutting down entire floors to save on personnel and utility costs as their occupancy rates plummet due to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

According to CNA, the 25-year-old Grand Hi-Lai Hotel (漢來大飯店) in Kaohsiung decided to close 10 of its 20 floors, making about 200 of its 535 rooms unavailable to guests. The measure was the result of the hotel’s occupancy rate plunging from its usual 70-80 percent to 30 percent in early February.

Leaving rooms empty could cut the cost of personnel, cleaning, heating, water, and electricity, the report said.

The Grand Hi-Lai's management told CNA that unlike some other hotels, it had not given its staff leave without pay. Personnel were encouraged to take extra classes, while the partial shutdown also gave the hotel an opportunity for repairs and redecoration.

Another hotel in the southern city, the Kingship Hotel Kaohsiung Intercontinental (漢王洲際飯店), closed 120 of its 200 rooms. Meanwhile, seven employees are retiring or seeking jobs in another sector, two have started leave without pay for half a month, and others are assisting with repairs.

Kingship's management said that in contrast, a villa complex it runs in the beach town of Kenting, Pingtung County, had seen its occupancy rate jump by 50 percent, as the villas were separate buildings with independent air conditioning systems and parking lots, reducing the fear of infection. In addition, the complex is also giving special discounts to guests who show proof that they had canceled overseas trips because of the virus epidemic.

Despite the current downturn, hotel managers are still optimistic that the coronavirus outbreak will end in April and that their business will rebound, CNA reported.