Shangri-La temporarily shuts biggest local hotel in Makati

Hotel operator Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is closing its biggest hotel in the Philippines starting next month as part of a bigger “reorganization” that will also see some layoffs nearly a year since the pandemic brought tourism down to its knees.

Makati Shangri-La Hotel, situated at the central business district, will temporarily close “from 1 February 2021 onwards” due to “low business levels,” John Rice, the company’s vice-president for operations, said in a letter to the Philippine Hotel Owners Association.

A copy of the two-page letter to Arthur Lopez, the industry group’s president, was obtained by the media on Wednesday. The closure was first reported by Esquire media outlet. The company had also issued a separate press statement, which contained portions of Rice’s letter.

“Despite our best efforts, the prolonged recovery timeline has resulted in increasing financial pressure on the company here in the Philippines,” the hotel group said. 

“As part of the reorganization exercise, we will sadly be parting ways with a number of colleagues and we will be temporarily closing Makati Shangri-La, Manila from 1 February 2021 onwards,” it added.

It was not revealed how many workers will be let go, but the Makati branch of the hotel chain is its biggest in the country hosting 696 rooms. It was also the second oldest local Shangri-La hotel, next to Edsa Shangri-La, having started operations in April 1993.

The hotel management, nonetheless, assured the industry that “fair compensation package” will be provided to those who will be laid off, as well as healthcare coverage until the yearend.  

Makati Shang’s closure underscores the uphill climb faced by the tourism and hospitality sectors suffering from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns and travel barriers the health crisis had triggered.

While business had slowly resumed in June, not all hotels were allowed to accept guests and operations were limited to staycations as foreign leisure and business travel had virtually been suspended for most of 2020. Foreign flights were allowed in starting October, but fears of the virus had prevented a quick bounce-back on travel appetite.

Makati Shangri-La itself is known for hosting business meetings, most recently events related to the 2015 meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Manila and 2012 Governor’s Meeting of the Asian Development Bank. 

There is no schedule yet as to when Makati Shangri-La will reopen, but Rice said the management will “closely monitor global developments” and resume operations “when business conditions have improved.” 

Apart from Makati and Edsa outlets, Shangri-La also operates a hotel and resort in Mactan in Cebu as well as the Bonifacio Global City in The Fort, Taguig. 

Shares at Shang Properties Inc. went down 0.74% to close at P2.67 apiece on Wednesday, tracking a broader bearish sentiment at the stock market. — via Sean Tyler Chan / AdChoiceTV News

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