DENVER -- Along some of Denver’s popular tourism spots, quiet and lonely has become the new normal.
"And when there’s not pedestrians walking in the streets of downtown, the energy level is gone and frankly, the feeling of wanting to be here is not as significant," said President and CEO of Sage Hospitality, Walter Isenberg.
For the hospitality industry, fewer people on the streets correlates to less people in hotel rooms.
That’s been the case for Isenburg and Sage Hospitality, which owns dozens of hotels across the country and Denver, including the Oxford and Crawford hotels.
"In the month of October we were running in the mid-40s in terms of occupancy. Now, in a typical October, we would be in the 80s," said Isenberg.
The slash in occupancy is being seen across all Denver hotels with less than a 50% occupancy.
Kevin Bird worked as a food and beverage coordinator for a downtown Denver hotel and had to furlough all his staff last spring, only to be furloughed himself shortly after.
"I thought when this started I would be a few weeks, a month, and I’d see all my staff again and kind of business as normal, and here we are eight months later," Bird said.
For Isenberg, there is still a glimmer of hope.
"People ask the question, right, all the time, 'Hey, how are you doing?' I used to have two possible answers, I say, 'How do you think I’m doing? I’m in the hotel and restaurant business in the middle of a pandemic.' That’s one answer you can give. What I’ve said from the very beginning is, 'I woke up this morning and we were one day closer to a vaccine,'" said Isenberg.
Even with a vaccine, people will have to feel safe and comfortable with returning to hotels for leisure and work and that's something many hotels across Denver are banking on.