Hotel management

Benson Hotel loses major corporate client spooked by conditions in downtown Portland

In another blow to struggling downtown Portland, the Benson Hotel has lost a recurring corporate contract for 300 rooms per month due to “security concerns”, and the hotel owner is considering legal action against the city, according to an email obtained by WW.

“The city is failing in its duty to provide basic services (cleanliness, safety and security),” an executive from Coast Hospitality Management, the company that owns the Benson, said in an email to restaurant president Jason Brandt. Oregon. and Accommodation Association. “Too many homeless and crazy people running around. Suffice to say that I am furious!

The Coast Hospitality executive did not name the client company that left. But Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines “did not want to return in full for the same reason,” he wrote.

“I am seriously considering suing the city,” the executive said. “I have to believe that we can get other hoteliers to join us and make it a class action. We are not the only ones to suffer. »

Contacted by WW for comment, the executive declined to say anything beyond what was in the email.

The Benson, located on Southwest Broadway at the corner of Oak Street, has 287 rooms. The departing customer paid $156 a night for 300 rooms during each month, the executive said.

“It’s a $50,000 monthly contract for The Benson,” the executive wrote.

In a response to this email, also obtained by WW, a restaurant association attorney named Matthew Lowe said his firm was pursuing “a plausible theory” to sue the city. “This runs counter to my general predisposition to advising clients on disputes given the cost and burden,” Lowe wrote, “but this seems like a case where we can only move forward with the city if we can get a court order.”

Lowe did not return a call from WW search for comment.

“There are a growing number of companies (both within our industry and outside our industry) that continue to be deeply concerned about public safety and cleanliness issues in Portland,” said Brandt, the chief of the restaurant association, in an e-mail to WW. “We look forward to being a partner in every way we can to create laser focus on these core local government responsibilities.”

The loss of the Bensons comes at a difficult time for Portland, which is struggling to recover from the pandemic, protests and riots that have rocked downtown for much of 2020 and 2021.

While many US cities have seen people return, Portland has not, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. They used GPS cellphone data to see how many people are returning to businesses, bars, restaurants and other attractions in 62 town centers across the county.

In the last period, from March to May of this year, Portland came in at 60th, with a salvage value of 41% over 2019. Only San Francisco (31%) and Cleveland, Ohio (36%) have done worse.

Lodging taxes tell the same story. Taxes collected from hotels and motels fell 22% in the fiscal year ended June 2020 and fell another 62% in fiscal 2021, according to figures from Metro, the regional government. Although incomplete, tax revenues for the year ended June are still down 50% from 2019 levels.

Jeff Miller, president of Travel Portland, a group that promotes Portland as a tourist destination, said he could not quantify how the city’s ‘livability challenges’ had affected downtown tourism .

“The tourism recovery has begun in the City of Portland, but the extent to which these livability issues have slowed our recovery is not known and cannot be precisely determined by our organization,” Miller said in a statement. E-mail. “Leisure travel is leading the recovery and business travel is lagging, which is the case in many cities.”