As the worldwide ripple effects of the coronavirus outbreak continue, the tourism and hospitality industries have been hit particularly hard, and on Friday, March 27, Homewood’s boutique hotel, La Banque, closed its doors for “a week or two” according to Manager Meg Sakka.
The hotel joins a growing number of businesses hit by government-forced closures of schools, restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses.
“As with most businesses, we have had a huge decrease in sales. We had a huge group that had a four-day stay with all 18 rooms booked for April and they have canceled,” said Sakka. “Most of our regular business travelers have canceled, with no known date of return. We have an occasional guest who is either traveling and finds us on Google or a few people coming to check on family members.”
The downturn comes after a very successful beginning to 2020, she said.
“We were having a great start to our year. January and February had a huge increase in sales over 2019 and then all of a sudden boom! We have days with no guests,” Sakka explained.
Over the past couple weeks, Sakka said they were taking things day by day and actively seeking customers, but things just got too slow to keep going.
After Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all dine-in establishments and bars to close, La Voute Bisto + Bar, which is located inside the hotel, tried offering carry-out service at first, but the small amount of orders weren’t enough to warrant keeping it open.
Sakka said most of the staff had to be laid off and she found herself working around the clock in a number of different roles, including cleaning and sanitizing the building.
Of the visitors they have had in March, Sakka said that surprisingly there were still leisure travelers coming in.
She acknowledged that after this is all over, there will likely be some hotels that won’t recover, but she’s optimistic and looks forward to re-opening.
“I hope and think that we can weather through this,” she said.