NY: LIRR Strike Possibility Has NYC Companies Hunting for Scarce Hotel Rooms

July 17--New York City companies are hunting for scarce hotel rooms to shelter employees facing a threatened LIRR strike next week, hospitality executives say, and at least one Queens hotel is courting commuters with a "Railway Strike Package" that includes an after-work Long Island Iced Tea.

Kathleen Duffy, spokeswoman for NYC Marriott Hotels, with more than 5,000 rooms across all company brands in the city, said corporate clients are inquiring about rooms after Sunday's 12:01 a.m. Long Island Rail Road strike deadline, but that space is tight.

"Even if there wasn't a strike, our hotels are running extremely high occupancy next week," she said, citing tourism and business events. "We do have some rooms, but we're not holding them unless they're booking."

Matt Zolbe, director of sales and marketing at the 1,400-room Waldorf Astoria in midtown, said business clients were inquiring, but were holding off on booking rooms. Jeffrey Reich-Hale, director of sales and marketing at the Wyndham Garden Long Island City Manhattan View, said the hotel was on track to be booked solid from Sunday through Saturday, though it was unclear if the surge was related to the possible strike. Room availability also was limited next week at the Conrad New York, a luxury hotel in the Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. group near Wall Street, according to reservation agents.

Christopher Heywood, a spokesman for NYC & Company, the city's tourism agency, said the hotel occupancy percentage typically hovers from the high 80s into the 90s this time of year.

The Z NYC Hotel in Long Island City is offering its "Strike Package" -- including the after-work drink, a morning bagel and cream cheese, and a complimentary shuttle to the subway or Manhattan's East Side -- to commuters who can present an LIRR ticket at check-in. The promotion, which starts at $225 a night, would run for the duration of a strike.

As of Wednesday afternoon, occupancy at the boutique hotel, which relies mostly on domestic and international leisure travelers, was running at 71 percent for Sunday and 88 percent for Monday.

"Why not make our guests feel relaxed during this incredibly stressful time?" Lisa Gneo, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, said of the promotion.

At Wall Street firms, where regulators demand ironclad business continuity, hotels are viewed as one option for ensuring smooth functioning.

A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. spokeswoman said that in the event of a strike, the financial services firm would consider a variety of choices, including housing employees in hotels if necessary.

Copyright 2014 - Newsday

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