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Downtown Louisville hotels enjoy summer of gains while monitoring spread of COVID variant

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:41 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 8:47 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A swarm of hotel guests gathered Tuesday at the Galt House for the hotel’s largest event in over a year, signaling a gradual recovery in the hospitality industry after COVID restrictions put the brakes on travel.

However, cases of the Delta variant are on the rise, which casts a shadow on future business.

“As we learn more about the variant and how it affects demand we’ll make those adjustments,” Galt House Sales and Marketing Vice President Skip James said. “One thing the last year and half has taught us is how to be nimble and how to take it week to week and day to day.”

James said almost 1,000 rooms are booked at the Galt House for the next three nights and occupancy is at about 80% over the next 10 days.

June numbers from Louisville Tourism show convention inquiries and rooms booked citywide for the month are nearly double from last year but are still below pre-COVID numbers.

“It is good right now from where we were,” Louisville Tourism Executive Vice President Doug Bennett said. “That’s a 30% increase from where we were in the deep depths of the pandemic.”

Eamon O’Brien, Omni Louisville’s general manager, said that business at the city’s newest high-rise hotel has recovered to 70% of pre-pandemic numbers. However, hotel staffing is still lacking.

“On the weekend we’ll have four bars open,” O’Brien said. “That’s really unique. We’re certainly not all the way back yet. We need to get better a little bit every day — a little bit better every day and continuously to improve.”

O’Brien said The Omni just hired 18 more people last week and the hotel is currently hosting 300 guests from its biggest corporate group since before the pandemic.

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