Cheap rates keep heads in beds, but hotels still hurting due to pandemic


The plush Fairmont San Jose is offering special discounts for fire evacuees. But the business is not enough to make a dent in the bottom line at most hotels. Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images 2007

Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images 2007

The plush Fairmont San Jose is offering special discounts for fire evacuees. But the business is not enough to make a dent in the bottom line at most hotels.

Evacuees from the multiple fires raging around the Bay Area need shelter. Hotels, with demand for rooms pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic, need guests. This week, the city of San Jose brought these two groups together with specially discounted rates for those affected by fires.

Currently, 14 hotels in and around downtown San Jose are offering fire evacuees special $99 per night “San Jose Cares” rates, which represent discounts of 15-20{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} off the rates most of them charged in recent weeks. The $99 rate does not include taxes. (See a full list of the hotels offering special rates here. To get the discount, evacuees need only request the “San Jose Cares” rate.)

For example, the 40-room Best Western Plus Airport Plaza hotel is nearly full right now, with about 70{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} of its rooms occupied by guests impacted by recent fires and evacuation orders, a reservations agent told SFGATE. Regular rates at the hotel have been running between $139 and $179 per night. Nearby, the Country Inn & Suites, where rates are normally about $125 per night,  is hosting some evacuees, “but not as many as hotels on the southern side of town, closer to the fires and the evacuation zones,” according to a front desk clerk.

With demand at historic lows during peak summer season when they are typically teeming with guests, hotels are happy to have heads in beds. But even business from evacuees is not enough to really help the ailing bottom lines at some of the larger, convention-style properties.

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About 40 rooms at the 484-room Marriott San Jose are currently occupied by evacuees according to the front desk. Rates there have been running about $145 per night, so the $99 rate is a significant discount. Pets are welcome, but the hotel is charging its standard $75 non-refundable fee. Currently, the hotel is about 32{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} occupied.

At the plush Fairmont San Jose, one of the nicest hotels in town, evacuees get a special rate of $149 per night, which represents about a 15{143106009d8b87d45252e1fd973f0c0835ad3aabba3679e828c3cd83539ae06c} discount off current standard rates. Last week, the hotel had 50 rooms occupied by evacuees (out of the hotel’s 808 rooms), which barely puts a dent in the overall decline in occupancy due to the pandemic, according to a spokesperson.

A quick scan of area hotel rates on and turns up a handful of South Bay midscale hotels with rates as low as $75, so bargain hunters may want to shop around. Airbnb and VRBO are also good options if a short term stay turns into a longer one.

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Chris McGinnis is SFGATE’s senior travel correspondent. You can reach him via email or follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Don’t miss a shred of important travel news by signing up for his FREE weekly email updates!

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