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Ski resorts, hotels announce furloughs amid closures in hospitality industry

With no clear timeline to reopen, companies face painful decisions.

COLORADO, USA — Many hotels and resorts have closed, or significantly scaled back services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That has left hundreds of employees in the hospitality industry at home on furlough.

The CEO of Vail Resorts said he hoped  “we would not have to take this action.”

In a letter to employees posted on the company’s website Wednesday, CEO Rob Katz announced several measures to “navigate the financial challenges ahead,” that include furloughs for some employees and pay cuts for others.

This comes several weeks after Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order, temporarily suspending operations at ski resorts. They still remain closed, with no clear timeline to reopen.

RELATED: Gov. Polis issues executive order closing all Colorado ski areas for one week

“We will work hard to reopen as soon as practical, but much of this is now outside our control,” Katz said.

The changes outlined in the post Wednesday include:

  • Furloughs for “nearly all” U.S., year-round hourly employees for at least one to two months. Employees currently enrolled in health care coverage will keep it
  • Six-month salary reductions for all U.S. salaried employees
  • Katz announced he would give up 100% of his salary for six months

In the same post, Katz also announced changes to board member compensation, capital expenditures, and dividends to shareholders.

“I have made decisions over the last few weeks that I never could have anticipated in my nearly 30 years working in the ski business. I recognize the impact of today’s decisions on you, and I do not take them lightly. I am humbled and grateful for your passion and dedication to each other,” he wrote.

RELATED: Close to 1,000 people apply for COVID-19 relief in Aspen area

RELATED: Vail Valley job losses, uncertainty drive growing number of calls for help

Other companies face tough decisions, too.

In Downtown Denver, the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa is still open for business but working with a drastically reduced staff. General Manager Nick Moschetti said the hotel normally employs more than 300 people and is currently operating with 12.

“We’ve had to furlough a majority of our staff due to a lack of business in the hotel, but we do have a core team we have about 12 of us here cleaning rooms and checking folks in and taking care for the guests we do have,” he said Wednesday.

Although guests are still allowed, the hotel has closed restaurants, spa services, tea services and gathering spaces.

Moschetti said he hopes business returns to normal by summer.

“I know that’s ambitious, and I am an optimist, and I’d love to see summer back at the Brown Palace,” he said. “I can’t wait to see our associates, I can’t wait to have guests in the hotel. There’s a buzz. A hotel is alive when it’s busy, and I miss that buzz. I miss that energy both of our associates and our guests. I can’t wait to get it back.”

Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center announced a temporary closure on March 25.

In Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor Hotel announced its closure beginning March 21, along with an anticipated reopening date for Memorial Day weekend.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports all 1,411 employees of the hotel have been placed on unpaid leave.

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