'Did I do and say enough?' D.C.-based HR director wonders following COVID-19 furloughs

Carlos Alcazar, director of human resources, at the Melrose Georgetown Hotel.  

Carlos Alcazar, director of human resources for the Melrose Georgetown Hotel in Washington, D.C., isn't sure he handled the fraction of that number he had to let go.

The Melrose Georgetown Hotel is owned by Remington Hotels, which the bulk of their almost 6,800 last week due COVID-19.

Alcazar said in a statement to Washington D.C. Business Daily, provided by Remington Hotels, that he can speak on behalf "of our 44 associates on furlough and 25 others that will fall on the unemployment category."

"D.C. is a highly affected city due to security measures taken to control the virus," Alcazar said. "Museums are closed, universities are closed, government entities are closed. Overall, there is no business to come to D.C. at this time."


Melrose Georgetown Hotel.  

Like everyone else in the nation's capital, the U.S. and the world, Alcazar has not been left untouched by the ongoing, and apparently accelerating, COVID-19 pandemic.

"As a father, as a friend, as a coach, as a manager, as a co-worker and as the head of the HR department, my heart is hurting as I passed on the news that due to the measures to control the infectious disease coronavirus, we were forced to reduce our staff and our operation to a minimum," he said. "You have to wonder, did I do and say enough? Was there anything else I could have done? Did I guide them in the correct way?"

Despite it all, Alcazar said he continues to have faith.

"The only thing that I hope, and I am sure is that I believe and trust that our company executives leaders and, off course, the government officials, will think and feel the same way I did," he said. "And act accordingly. Please keep in mind those families that could possibly go for more than six weeks without any earned money. Relief is needed."

That's the same message the travel and hotel industry in the U.S. hopes that government will get. Earlier this week, industry leaders met with President Donald Trump to ask for about $150 billion in relief.

COVID-19 has reduced guest numbers to single-digit percentages, forcing the hospitality industry to lay off staff and severely reduce hours for those who manage to remain employed.

"Remington Hotels is struggling in the face of the coronavirus," Remington Hotels President and CEO Sloan Dean III said in a statement.

Dean's appointment as president and CEO of Remington Hotels was announced in December.

Remington, founded in 1968, is a hotel management company that also provides providing property management services. Its hospitality wing manages 86 hotels in 26 states across 17 brands.

The suffering of Remington Hotels' employees is a small portion of the larger story about how COVID-19 threatens the world's economy. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned earlier this week that COVID-19 could drive unemployment in the U.S. to 20 percent, levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Like the rest of the industry, Remington Hotels has been hit hard by COVID-19, which has sunk its business to "beyond depression levels" and Remington anticipates losses this year in the hundreds of millions, Dean said.

Remington Hotels expects hotels that it manages to run at 90 percent lower occupancy levels in April 2020, compared to the same month last year, Dean said.

"Most all of our 6,800 associates are furloughed," he said, adding that the entire situation is a "disaster."

Priorities for the entire industry should be exactly what the American Hotel and Lodging Association presented directly to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, March 17, Dean said.

Those priorities are emergency assistance for employees, a workforce stabilization fund from the U.S. Treasury Department, preservation of business liquidity that would include $100 billion for employee retention and rehiring, and tax relief

"For many Americans in our sector, this health crisis will be compounded by economic hardship in the coming weeks and months," Dean said. "Congress must act now!! Time is essential as unemployment claims in hospitality will be in the millions."

Dean said assistance will need to come from the nation's top leadership.

Priorities for the entire industry were presented to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, March 17 by the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Those priorities are emergency assistance for employees, a workforce stabilization fund from the U.S. Treasury Department, preservation of business liquidity that would include $100 billion for employee retention and rehiring, and tax relief

"For many Americans in our sector, this health crisis will be compounded by economic hardship in the coming weeks and months," Dean said. "Congress must act now!! Time is essential as unemployment claims in hospitality will be in the millions."

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