JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The closest downtown hotel to Everbank Field will be closed for one of Jacksonville’s busiest weekends. The Hyatt hotel downtown had flooding in the lobby during Hurricane Irma, and because of the damage, is not scheduled to reopen until Oct.30, the day after Georgia/Florida weekend.
The hotel suffered a lot of flood damage during Irma. Crews have been working since the storm to get the hotel back open as quickly as possible. A hotel spokesman said the safety of their guests and staff is their top priority.
The 951-room Hyatt hotel downtown is a popular spot on most weekends, let alone one of the busiest weekends of the year, when it’s usually booked well in advance. Because it will be closed for Georgia/Florida weekend, other nearby hotels will see the benefit.
"It will push hotel stays out maybe further," said Art Casey, general manager of the Lexington Hotel and Conference Center. "Maybe into St. Johns or the St. Augustine-area, who already have a smaller impact. So they will have a larger weekend from an occupancy perspective."
The Lexington Hotel was previously sold out for the big weekend, but with a few cancellations, it has been able to accommodate some Hyatt guests. Casey says hotel revenue is only a part of what was lost when the Hyatt closed.
"It's an impact on the city, it's an impact on the guests and it's an impact on the staff," Casey said. "There is hourly staff there that need to work, didn't need to have that meal and that rent paid."
One of the biggest impacts to fans who would have stayed at the Hyatt will be from a convenience perspective. From the Hyatt, they would have been able to walk to the game. But those staying at hotels further away will now have to find a way to get downtown on game day.
"Let's assume they could open up early and there would be some impact on safety, they chose not to do that and forgo that revenue," Casey said. "Not to disappoint the guests, due to the safety of the guests and their staff. I have to say, that's admirable."
In a statement, the general manager of the Hyatt said, “We are working diligently on the restoration of our lobby level, while working to ensure all hotel colleagues continue to be cared for during this difficult time.”
The plan for the reopening is Monday, Oct. 30. Hotel officials wouldn’t say whether the hotel was sold out for Georgia/Florida weekend. If you had a reservation for the hotel, you can contact the Hyatt Global Reservations Center at 800-323-7249.