|By George Avalos, Contra Costa Times,
Walnut Creek, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 28, 2011--The Red Lion Hotel in Concord has abruptly shut its doors, dismissed employees and left guests without a place to stay, executives said Thursday.
The 189-room hotel was being operated as a franchise under the Red Lion brand.
"We were surprised about this," said Pam Scott, a spokeswoman for Spokane, Wash.-based Red Lion. "We have not heard from the operators at all."
The shutdown also stunned employees. The hotel employed about 45.
"It was a huge surprise to us," said Brian King, who has worked at the hotel for about four years. "And it was a huge surprise to the salaried workers. Everyone was caught off guard by this."
Elite Hospitality, the principal owner and operator of the Concord hotel, couldn't be reached for comment.
Red Lion officials are notifying guests who were displaced or had reservations. The company is attempting to find alternative accommodations.
In December, Red Lion announced that it had struck a deal to rebrand the hotel, which had been called the Holiday Inn Concord. The hotel is located on Burnett Avenue.
Employees were told Wednesday night that the hotel would be closing, said Mary Harms, an AFL-CIO official.
"They told everyone the hotel was being closed," she said.
On Thursday, a cyclone fence appeared the keep people away from the defunct hotel.
"The owners told us they were closing due to the economy, that they are a victim of the recession," King said.
some signs had emerged that the hotel was in distress financially, employees said.
"They had downgraded a lot of services they had provided for the customers," King said. "They were unable to pay some bills. They floated the food bills, the alcohol bill, sometimes even the PG&E bill."
Employees and Red Lion weren't sure if -- or when -- the hotel would reopen.
The hotel has been in sporadic contract talks with Unite HERE Local 2850.
"If it does open up again, we will make every effort to get people back their seniority and their jobs," King said.
Several Bay Area hotels have struggled during the economic meltdown. A Sheraton in Pleasanton lurched into foreclosure, then was bought by investors. The Fremont Marriott also tumbled into default.
"It's a tough market in which to operate hotels," Scott of Red Lion said. "This is a rough economy all the way around."
Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477. Follow him at Twitter.com/george_avalos.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, Calif.
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