BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Walking into the empty Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel is unlike anything Aron Harkham has ever seen.
He grew up with the hustle and bustle of the iconic landmark in Beverly Hills.
What You Need To Know
- Luxe Rodeo Drive is the first high-end luxury hotel in L.A. to go out of business
- A recent survey shows that more than 67% of hotels will only be able to last six more months
- Several local hotels are reopening as part of the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau’s “Something to Feel Good About” campaign
“I worked at our hotel every summer growing up, in different departments,” Harkham said. “It’s something that we like to think is in our blood.”
His father bought the hotel in 1993, and later formed Luxe Hotels, which owns luxury boutique hotels around the world, including locations downtown and on Sunset Boulevard.
At the Beverly Hills location, Harkham knew every single worker, so when he permanently closed the hotel in September, it was that much harder to break the news to each person.
“These are people I remember from my childhood, and a lot of them have been here for a long time,” he said. “It’s very tough for us, and I’m sure it’s incredibly tough for them.”
Harkham initially closed the hotel in March when the pandemic hit, but reopening seemed unlikely as the months wore on.
“Had a lot of travel from Asia and Australia," he said. "It was our primary market. Obviously, those avenues have been shut, so looking towards the future, it seemed bleak at this property.”
Luxe Rodeo Drive is the first high-end luxury hotel in L.A. to go out of business. Harkham isn’t alone in the struggle to stay afloat. A recent American Hotel and Lodging Association survey shows that more than 67% of hotels will only be able to last six more months.
However, things are looking up down the street, according to Peter Humig, regional vice president and general manager of Beverly Wilshire. He says there is still a good amount of business and attributes it partly to the nice California weather, which attracts guests.
“The weather continues to be good," he said. "The numbers, especially in L.A. County, are decreasing, and so when we looked at the entire picture, we felt now is the time to reopen. And of course, also thinking of our employees, as we want them to come back to work as soon as possible, and hopefully as many as we possibly can bring back in a safe manner.”
Humig said he consulted with medical experts on how to safely reopen the hotel. New safety measures include temperature checks at the entrance, touchless check-in, hourly cleanings of public areas, daily disinfection of guest rooms with EPA-approved products, and “Lead With Care” kits in each room that include face masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitation wipes.
Beverly Wilshire’s reopening comes at a time when several other hotels in the area are reopening as part of the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau’s “Something to Feel Good About” campaign that includes special deals to help attract guests.
Humig is counting on domestic travelers to check in and, since reopening on October 1, he said there is steady stream of customers.
“We’ve been quite surprised at how quick we were able to recapture some of our loyal customers and, you know, I think the Beverly Wilshire having been around 100 years, people just can’t wait to come back to what they call the home-away-from-home, and it’s certainly worked for us in our first week,” he said.
At Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel, Harkham may redevelop his property into retail or office space, but he doesn’t believe other luxury hotels will follow the same fate.
“I think that for those that have the luxury of having some space, the ability to weather the storm, they will make it through for sure,” he said.