San Diego's coastal hotels booked for Labor Day weekend

Posted at 5:29 PM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 21:21:54-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Hotels hit hard by the coronavirus are getting a reprieve thanks to Labor Day weekend, as tourists snatch up rooms along our coast.

Elvin Lai, who owns Pacific Beach's Ocean Park Inn, says he's pretty much booked with premium rates. And, for the first time this summer, he's getting calls from overbooked hotel managers needing to find rooms for overflow guests.

"I think people are just saying, I've got to get out, I don't care how long the drive is, let's just go," Lai said.

Lai said resort-centric hotels like his are make-or-break during the summer, so it hit particularly hard when the coronavirus led to mass cancellations. Making matters worse, Lai had just spent $6 million upgrading the hotel's 71 rooms.

"It was just like, boom! Uppercut to the chin," Lai said. "I couldn't plan for it. I couldn't forecast it. There was no model to look at."

Now, he's in for a different challenge, because his hotel is understaffed, and he says he is struggling to fill positions. So, come Tuesday, Lai said he will not have the capability to make every room available for a quick turnaround.

Additionally, multiple vacation rental hosts told ABC 10News that they are fully booked for the holiday weekend,

Overall, occupancy remains down. A new city report says the visitor industry is off about 80% compared to pre-COVID levels. Additionally, the report says the hotel industry won't recover nationwide until the beginning of 2024.