The Nines hotel, a swank landmark of Portland's downtown and a regular stop for NBA players, has temporarily laid off 332 employees as the city's hospitality market continues to shatter.
Sage Hospitality Group informed state officials and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler of the layoffs on March 30. "While we believe the layoff will be temporary and may not trigger state or federal WARN Act notice requirements," the letter says, "we do not know what the future will hold at this juncture and are providing the following information to ensure you are fully informed and in an abundance of caution."
The Nines, located in the upper floors of the Meier & Frank Building just north of Pioneer Courthouse Square, is a 331-room luxury hotel, built in part with public financing, that regularly hosts basketball players in town to face the Trail Blazers. Its rooftop restaurant and bar, Departure, has served a who's who of local and visiting celebrities.
Its layoffs are the latest signal that COVID-19 has kneecapped the hotel business. Travel Portland said this morning that room occupancy rates have declined 80.4 percent from the same week last year. Just 15.5 percent of Portland hotel rooms are full.
Travel Portland added that hotel revenue had fallen 85.5 percent year over year.
The greatest demand for Portland hotel rooms now comes from local governments trying to shelter homeless people with virus symptoms. The hip eastside Jupiter Hotel is being used for that purpose, starting earlier this week.