Hotel Northampton closes until February

  • Jeffrey Hoess-Brooks, the manager at the Hotel Northampton talks about the closing for the winter and plans to reopen in February. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Dunia Buri and Rosa Zumba, employees of the Hotel Northampton, strip guest rooms in preparation for the hotel closing this winter with plans to reopen in February. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jeffrey Hoess-Brooks, the manager at the Hotel Northampton, talks about closing for the winter and its plans to reopen in February. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Rosa Zumba and Dunia Buri, employees of the Hotel Northampton, strip guest rooms in preparation for the hotel closing this winter with plans to reopen in February. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The empty Grand Ballroom at the Hotel Northampton which is closing for the winter and reopening in February. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2020 8:10:52 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Hit hard by the pandemic, the landmark Hotel Northampton has closed its doors until February. Sunday night was its last one with guests, said Jeffrey Hoess-Brooks, the hotel’s manager.

Owner Mansour Ghalibaf also owns the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Conz Street, which he said will remain open.

“With the volume of business, it didn’t make sense to have both open,” Ghalibaf said. This past year was supposed to be “the best year ever … with the amount of business we had on the books,” he said. “And then all of the sudden, COVID happens and here we are.”

Built in 1927, Hotel Northampton is also home to two restaurants, Coolidge Park Cafe and Wiggins Tavern, which also will be closed through the winter, Ghalibaf said. The hotel also hosted many events, like weddings.

“All of our weddings, banquets and holiday parties had already moved to 2021,” Hoess-Brooks said.

The decision follows other local businesses, including Packard’s and GoBerry in Northampton, and The Lone Wolf in Amherst, that have announced temporary closures during the winter months.

Most recently, Hotel Northampton employed between 20 and 30 people, most of whom have been laid off, though some will remain working during the closure, according to Hoess-Brooks.

Before the pandemic, the 106-room hotel employed between 60 and 75 people during its busiest times, Hoess-Brooks said, noting that many worked on an on-call basis.

While closing is “disheartening,” Ghalibaf said he remains positive about the future. He said the hotel will use the closure as an opportunity to make improvements, such as renovations.

“I’m hoping things get better quickly in 2021 and we go back to business as usual,” he said.

Funds exhausted

Shardool Parmar, president of the Pioneer Valley Hotel Group which runs hotels in Hadley, Springfield, and Ludlow, had a less positive outlook for the next year.

“We’re not expecting to get back to 2019 level for another three years,” he said.

The company ran the Rodeway Inn in Hadley, which closed in April and has not reopened.

“If you look at hotels in general, there’s just not enough demand right now,” Parmar said. “It just didn’t make a lot of sense for us, between the cost of keeping things open and expected revenue.”

Parmar said the Rodeway Inn may reopen in the future, or be redeveloped into a new hotel. All the other Pioneer Valley Hotel Group hotels are operating now, though the Hadley Farms Meeting House, an event space, is “effectively closed,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ve done an event in weeks, if not months,” Parmar said.

Parmar said he was able to secure a Paycheck Protection Program loan, but had to use it in eight weeks. “Really, the hotel industry needs probably 10 months of support,” he said. “Those funds have long been exhausted, and we’re going into some of the bleakest months of the year.”

Winter is typically a slow season for the hotel industry. “It’s normally not a great time under the best of circumstances,” said Curtis Shumway, president of the Hampshire Hospitality Group, which runs four hotels in Hadley and one in Amherst.

Now, all but one of Shumway’s hotels, which is being leased for additional homeless shelter beds, are open, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic and heading into winter, it was like a coin toss deciding whether to stay open or not, he said. “It’s not an easy decision to stay open or close,” he said.

Like Parmar, Shumway got a PPP loan, which temporarily allowed him to bring all his employees back, but he also had to use the funds in an eight-week period.

“Basically, I had a full staff with zero visitors,” he said.

Before the pandemic, Hampshire Hospitality Group hotels had about 200 employees. “I’m probably down to 30 or 40 now,” Shumway said.

Shumway wants to see another round of the PPP. “It needs to be initiated again,” he said. “I think the vaccine is going to be what we’re all hoping for. Hopefully, we can all financially survive through it.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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