Motels are having a moment. It’s a coronavirus thing
Written by Roger Vincent
After many years of being looked down on, motels are getting new respect in the era of social distancing. Guests at open-corridor inns may come and go without passing through crowded lobbies, packed elevators or enclosed hallways where viruses may linger.
“In outdoor corridors, people feel safe,” said Mike Riverside of the Asian American Hotel Owners Assn. “People can go directly to their rooms” and potentially reduce exposure to the coronavirus.
Outdoor-facing, low-rise motels and hotels also stand to benefit from being typically reached by car, unlike big resorts and urban hotels that rely on air travel to deliver most guests. With many still apprehensive about flying, drive-to destinations are widely expected to be the first beneficiaries of the gradual return of pleasure jaunts away from home.
Open-corridor properties are no longer being built and existing ones are not being replaced, said another hotel consultant, Stanley Turkel.
“Of the 50,000 hotels in the U.S. today, very few of them have exterior corridors,” he said. “Only a handful of those are left.”
But with the coronavirus laying waste to the hospitality industry because most business and leisure travel is on hold, such inns are getting second looks.
“It’s still too early to tell, but there are some signs that the exterior-corridor properties are doing a little bit better,” said Los Angeles hotelier Brian Ahir, president of Haley Hospitality Enterprises and owner of 10 indoor and outdoor hotels between San Diego and California’s central coast.