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Boston Hotels Continue To Suffer From Pandemic Losses

BOSTON (CBS) - You can find crisp bedding, clean white towels, and comfy seating areas inside one of XV Beacon's suites, but not every room of the Beacon Hill hotel is filled with guests on a sunny Labor Day weekend.

"We ran about a 75 percent occupancy, 70, 75 percent. Normally we would have been full though," said Hotel General Manager Amy Finsilver.

XV Beacon and hotels around Boston continue to claw back from the first blows of the pandemic that crippled the hospitality industry.

According to the latest U.S. Jobs report, the unemployment rate in leisure and hospitality is at 9.1 percent compared to the national average of 5.2 percent.

Most hotels have not regained international travelers even as college students and their families flood the city of Boston. Corporate travel and large conventions are still infrequent.

At XV Beacon, that has meant some services have been cut like lunchtime meals at their restaurant and housekeeping turn down service at night.

"We have curtailed our 24-hour room service. We don't have our mini bar, the private bar in the room," Finsilver said.

Unite Here Local 26, a union representing roughly 12,000 hospitality workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, is now fighting for hotels to resume full service in the hope that it will bring back hospitality jobs. Some hotels, for example, have cut daily housekeeping.

"During the pandemic, 90 percent of the hotel workers were laid off and on benefits. We've gotten probably about 55, 60 percent of those people back to work but that still leaves a lot of people who aren't back on the schedule," said union President Carlos Arrayamo.

Beatrice Torres worked for Marriott for 23 years. The Everett woman lost her position as a concierge attendant due to layoffs during the pandemic.

"It was a job that I really loved deeply, and it was really sad to lose it overnight," she said.

Despite the uncertainty, Finsilver says there is reason to hope that her industry will be back in full swing by 2022.

"We're very excited about the Boston Marathon in October and then we have the Laver Cup. So, we're already sold out 4 weekends in September and October," she said.

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