Funds were appropriately used as intended by legislation
As a privately held company, Omni Hotels & Resorts generally does not disclose financial information; however, as the president of a company I love so dearly, I cannot sit idle as our integrity is attacked. UNITE HERE, a union representing a limited number of Omni’s employees, has implied that Omni Hotels has misused government funds or otherwise abused the Payroll Protection Program loan program. This is simply not true.
As we all know, COVID-19 has swiftly and significantly impacted the entire world, and has wreaked havoc on the hospitality industry. As a result, I, along with our executive leadership team, made the very difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations at approximately 90% of our hotels. This decision was made with a heavy heart as we knew it would have significant impact on our nearly 22,000 associates. We have worked diligently to reduce that impact on our associates, including the distribution of PPP funds; privately funded financial gifts through our foundation, Omni Circle; and information provided at the property- and corporate-levels, including business updates and temporary job opportunities.
As it relates to PPP funds, the federal government outlined which businesses would qualify for loans, creating special provisions for hotels because of the significant impact to the industry. It also established a limited number of ways this money could and should be used, including payroll, utilities, rent and interest payments. Not every Omni hotel qualified or applied for a loan, but each Omni property that received a PPP loan used the funds in ways consistent with legislation and exclusively as Congress intended. To date, more than $51 million, the vast majority of the loans, were paid out as payroll and benefits expenses for thousands of our associates. It’s been very disheartening over the last few days to see organizations and news outlets spread misinformation about our use of these funds. Some of that misinformation insinuates that we obtained the funds through various loopholes or that our use of these funds prevented other businesses from accessing PPP monies as it appears billions of funding went unused. This misinformation only further harms our associates and business, resulting in an even longer road to recovery – something no one wants.
In addition to using the bulk of PPP funds to directly help our Omni associates, we began our largest ever campaign to raise money for grants through our foundation, Omni Circle. Omni Circle is a certified 501(c)3 which provides monetary relief to associates who face extenuating circumstances – with no expectation of repayment. Knowing that thousands of our associates faced the devastating impact of this pandemic, The Rowling Foundation generously agreed to match any donation 5:1. This means that a $10 donation instantly became $60. With so many facing hardships, we received a strong response from our associates, past and present; clients; vendors; and more. As such, we were able to provide more than $3 million in grants to associates affected by the COVID-19 crisis. I am very proud of our team and their efforts to offer this much needed support.
Further, as our team suspended operations at hotels, we simultaneously worked thoroughly and diligently to share as much information as possible with our furloughed associates. Within a matter of days, we created a resource landing page with business updates, blog posts from executives and, most importantly, temporary job opportunities with preferred partners.
While many of our hotels have begun welcoming guests back, occupancy is nowhere near pre-pandemic levels and our road to a full recovery will be long. Indeed, approximately 20% of our hotels remain closed because there is simply not enough consumer demand for them to re-open. This is devastating as a business, but also for the associates who are unable to return to work as a result.
The ‘Trilogy’ is the foundation of Omni’s culture and it is the belief that success is defined as satisfying the needs of our guests, associates and owners. One is not more important than the other – they are all equal. We need all of our hotels to be open and operating at full capacity as soon as possible as that is in the best interest of our guests, associates and owners.
We pray that this virus is eradicated completely and quickly. Until that day, we will continue to fight to make the very best of these extremely challenging times for both our associates and guests.
Omni Hotels & Resorts