The spike in COVID cases has led Miami Beach’s iconic Fontainebleau Hotel to lay off 1,309 workers indefinitely, according to a filing with the state.
In a letter dated June 23 and published on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website Tuesday, a hotel official said that after recent national media reporting on increased COVID-19 cases in Florida, it had seen a rapid decline in leisure room night bookings.
“This weekend alone thousands of group and leisure rooms have been canceled,” it said, referring to the weekend of June 19.
Wendi Walsh, secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 355, a union representing about 1,100 workers at the hotel, said that most of the affected workers have been without jobs since mid-March, and that the hotel was filing a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice now because it had become clear that layoffs were now likely to last longer than six months.
A Fontainebleau representative declined to comment.
The Fontainebleau, Miami Beach’s largest hotel at more than 1,500 rooms, is currently suing to stop paying health insurance for laid-off workers. In May, loan tracking group Trepp reported the hotel’s nearly $1 billion loan had been moved to so-called special servicing, meaning the property owner — an entity owned by local developer Jeffrey Soffer — was asking for forbearance. A hotel representative told Trepp the property remained current on its payments.
Layoff notices from Miami-area hospitality groups continue to stream in to the state’s WARN site as the coronavirus continues to ravage the tourism industry. Other recent layoff filings include the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Aventura, which announced indefinite layoffs for 306 of its workers; and 106 workers affected at STORY nightclub on Collins Ave in Miami Beach.
In the most recent U.S. jobs report for June, accommodation jobs remained more than 37% lower than levels 12 months prior. That compares with just 8% lower for the labor market as a whole.