Home Hotel industry On the site of the former Sheraton, The Stamford hotel is gaining new followers

On the site of the former Sheraton, The Stamford hotel is gaining new followers


STAMFORD – A year ago, 700 E. Main St. was empty after its longtime occupant closed.

Today, the 10-story building in downtown Stamford is starting to swarm with visitors to the newly opened establishment.

This year’s launch of The Stamford, a few months after the Stamford Sheraton closed, shows Connecticut’s leisure and hospitality sector has the potential to bounce back from 2020 shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic . The industry still faces a protracted recovery, but management of the approximately 380-room hotel is hoping demand will continue to rise as union officials want a return that also ushers better working conditions across the board. State.

“We wanted to open up and let people know that we are here and that we operate,” said Gerard Folly, acting general manager of The Stamford, in an interview last week at the hotel. “We are on the map. “

The Stamford succeeds a Sheraton

After about nine years in business, the Sheraton closed in late October 2020. It had struggled for months as room and event bookings were decimated by the pandemic. In April 2020, the hotel informed the state’s Ministry of Labor that it was temporarily laying off around 100 employees.

Several other hotels in the state have also closed since the start of the pandemic.

At the same time, the establishments that have survived are still seeing their returns diminish. After generating more than $ 1 billion in revenue in 2019, Connecticut hotels recorded just $ 532 million in 2020, according to survey responses from a large percentage of sites across the state.

Earlier this year, 700 E. Main was sold for $ 6.4 million to 700 East Main Street Stamford LLC, which has a business address in Manhattan, according to the city’s real estate records.

In February, The Stamford opened. Unlike the old Sheraton, it is not chain operated. It is managed by Access Hotels & Resorts, based in Celebration, Florida.

The new owner has yet to undertake any major renovations, but The Stamford intends to make improvements such as new carpeting in the rooms, according to Folly. All rooms have 37-inch flat-screen TVs, large desks, and coffeemakers, according to the hotel’s website.

In the middle of the second winter of the pandemic, business at The Stamford took off slowly. But activity has picked up in recent months – boosted by guests such as business executives and film crews and events such as church services, baby shower and weddings.

Some recent weekends, room occupancy has peaked at around 310, according to Folly.

“At the beginning, we were gaining momentum. We wanted to make sure we could present a nice and safe environment, ”said Folly. “As we grew a lot more people came in and we got noticed. Many people still remember the Sheraton Stamford. Over the past nine months, people have come back to get a feel for who we are, what we are and what we do.

Recent guests included Laura Lacy-Thompson, a resident of Stamford. She stayed at the hotel for about three weeks, before moving to London. She was joined by her Labrador mix, Rosie – a sign of the hotel’s “dog-friendly” policy.

“I felt very comfortable here,” Lacy-Thompson said in an interview last week at the hotel. “The service is great. The people who work here go out of their way to make you feel right at home and to make sure you have everything you need. It’s very user-friendly.

The Stamford has joined a list of hotels in Stamford that also includes Courtyard Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Hampton Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Hilton, La Quinta Inn & Suites, The Lloyd, Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott.

Prior to the launch of the Stamford, the Lloyd and Residence Inn were the two most recent hotel openings in the city, having debuted in August 2020 and November 2018 respectively.

“The tourism and hospitality industry has been hit hard during the pandemic, and every time a business closes in our city it hurts jobs and our community,” said Stamford Mayor-elect Caroline Simmons , in a press release. “But we are grateful that The Stamford occupies the building now. And as mayor, I will work hard to support business and job growth in our city, focusing on helping industries hardest hit by the pandemic. “

Statewide, over the past few months, “we’ve had more activities that have drawn people in and we’ve been able to hold more gatherings,” said Ginny Kozlowski, executive director of the Connecticut Lodging Association. “It helped, but we certainly haven’t gone back to pre-pandemic numbers.”

Towards a recovery

The Stamford employs around 40 people, including at least 15 who worked at the Stamford Sheraton, according to Folly.

“As we get busier, we will always contact former (Sheraton) employees first, if they are still interested in returning,” Folly said.

Unite Here Local 217, the union which represented more than 100 of the Stamford Sheraton employees, said it represents 36 of the Stamford workers. These members work in engineering, housekeeping, front desk, kitchen, and restaurant and bar positions.

In addition, Local 217 represents workers at the Hilton Stamford, Hyatt Greenwich, Hilton Hartford and Omni New Haven hotels.

“We have achieved a high union level at the other hotels we represent in New Haven, Stamford and Hartford, with good benefits, including excellent health care and pension benefits,” said Josh Stanley, secretary – Treasurer of Local 217, in an email. “As this hotel (The Stamford) opened on an interim basis in the midst of the pandemic, we have not yet been able to reach the same level for our members there, but hope to do so soon.”

Statewide, about 135,000 people were employed in October in the leisure and hospitality sector, which includes hotels, according to the state’s Department of Labor. The total was up 11% from the same point last year, but still down almost 15% from the roughly 158,000 who worked in the industry in February 2020.

“We are seeing customers paying similar prices to what they paid before the pandemic, but service is reduced, fewer workers are working and those working harder for the same pay,” Stanley said, referring to “de many sectors of the hotel industry “. He did not mention the Stamford as part of that assessment.

“There shouldn’t be a recovery for the hospitality industry without a real recovery for workers as well,” Stanley added.

As the pandemic persists, guests can help hotels and their workers by remaining committed to health and safety measures, according to Kozlowski.

“We are hopeful. But we are definitely cautious because we are seeing a slight increase in these numbers (COVID), ”Kozlowski said. “We encourage people to get vaccinated, get vaccinated and follow all safety guidelines. The more we do, the sooner we will work on recovery. “

[email protected]; Twitter: @paulschott