Yucatán’s hotel association warns that several hotels, large and small, are at grave risk of closing down for good.
The association pointed out that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nine hotels in Mérida have already permanently shuttered their doors.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for our industry. We are without a doubt facing the worst crisis we have ever experienced,” said Juan José Martín Pachecho, president of Yucatán’s hotel association.
Most hotels are currently getting by with an occupancy rate of around 15% while none have managed to exceed 30%.
“Many hotel owners are using up their savings to keep their businesses open and continue to pay their employees. These efforts can only be described as titanic,” said Armando Bojórquez Patrón, president of Latin America’s Association for Tourism and Culture.
Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, over the past several years hotels in Yucatán have also come under increasing competition from unregulated online platforms such as Airbnb.
Even before the beginning of the pandemic, many in Mérida’s business community felt that the hotel industry was becoming far too saturated. It is widely speculated that continued hotel development is driven more by real estate speculators than by market demand.
Despite this crisis a handful of hotels, most of which began construction before the beginning of the pandemic, have entered the market.
For example this month, Courtyard By Marriott opened a 208-room hotel in Mérida, operated by Grupo Presidente, which previously ran the InterContinental on the other side of the block. It replaces an abandoned appliance store that sat on the high-profile Avenida Colón-Calle 62 intersection and links the hotel zone further west with the Wyndham and the Wyam hotels.
Last July, Wayam Mundo Imperial hotel opened just west of the hotel zone Thursday, converting an art-deco Garcia Ginerés mansion into the lobby of a modern, upscale hotel.
But new projects have begun to spring up too. Revisiting plans announced two years ago, Grupo Meca plans to start construction in four months at Santa Cecilia on Avenida Colon.
The site of the future hotel was the private residence of a couple in their 80s and 90s until they were allegedly killed by burglars. Three years into 30-year prison sentences, the Second Trial Court acquitted both detainees for lack of evidence.