To help amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels throughout California and other states owned by Santa Barbara resident Pat Nesbitt are allowing first responders and healthcare professionals to stay overnight free of charge.
CEO and chairman of Windsor Capital Group and owner of 10 hotels in the United States, seven located in California and one in Lompoc, Mr. Nesbitt told the News-Press his Marriott and Embassy Suites by Hilton locations began this offer on Monday. These room donations are through a greater joint effort by Hilton and American Express, which are reimbursing all participating hotels $30 per overnight stay.
According to Mr. Nesbitt, the $30 donations just barely cover the cleaning costs for a room. Keeping his hotels open at a time of self-isolating and almost no traveling cuts into their financial reserves even as they each operate with a skeleton staff of at most five employees. The hotel owner approximated that around 50% of his costs come from paying employees, who are all getting paid even if they aren’t working during the health crisis. However, even if that were to change and the hotel resultantly found around half of its expenses slashed, the other half of costs that includes utilities remains no matter how the hotels are doing.
“A lot of expenses continue to go on whether you have one guest or a thousand guests,” Mr. Nesbitt said.
Despite the costs, Mr. Nesbitt said he feels compelled to help the current situation just by watching the news and hearing about the challenge that hospitals are facing.
“You’ve got to only watch about five minutes to see what healthcare workers are going through,” he remarked.
When the offer was first rolled out earlier this week, the hotel owner said his only hotel getting used by healthcare workers was the Marriott location in Walnut Creek. Mr. Nesbitt’s only hotel located in Santa Barbara County, the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Lompoc, hasn’t yet gotten an influx of first responders or healthcare professionals, according to its General Manager Golda Escalante. However, the manager stated that she has called healthcare facilities in the area and informed them of the offer to those on the front lines who may not want to return home and risk infecting loved ones.
“We have not received any of the first responders or healthcare workers yet, but I have made calls to local hospitals telling them that we are here to help,” Ms. Escalante said.
While first responders and healthcare providers may not be taking advantage of the offer yet, a Federal Bureau of Prisons support team of around 27 officers, wardens, and supervisors is staying at the hotel for 18 days. Made up of individuals from across the western United States, the team is working to address an outbreak of coronavirus in Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc. The outbreak was first reported on April 3 and currently 68 people incarcerated in the prison have tested positive.
As he keeps his hotels open for the sake of those at the forefront of battling COVID-19, Mr. Nesbitt has been working tirelessly to find a way of sustaining their operations amid the pandemic in a way that will allow hotel employees to keep getting paid. To achieve this, his hotels have signed up for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program like many local businesses have. Now of course, Mr. Nesbitt’s hotels are waiting in line to receive their aid, which the owner expects will take a while to arrive.
“It sounds like a great program but they’ve got to implement it. Like everything the government touches I imagine it’s very bureaucratic and very time consuming,” Mr. Nesbitt said.