Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City Hotel Mogul Nick Patel Optimistic Despite 80% Drop In Occupancy Due to the Coronavirus 

LAKE CITY, COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – During a virtual/simulcast meeting of the Columbia County Tourist Development Board (TDC) on Wednesday, Lake City's own Nick Patel gave a rundown on his Lake City hotel business. It wasn't pretty.

Commissioner Williams was at the meeting, while Mr. Patel appeared from his office. For the most part, Mr. Patel was the only one who was intelligible during the meeting.

March Occupancy Plummeted: 2 of 10 rooms occupied

Hotel Mogul Nick Patel
Mr. Patel during a meeting about the M-Cores.

Responding to long time Columbia County Commissioner Ronald Williams' how are you doing, Mr. Patel answered, "Just to give you a snap shot of our industry" and he rolled right into it.

Mr. Patel said, "The second or third week of March we definitely saw a significant drop in our operating statistics. The occupancies were going down very quickly."

"Usually, March is the busiest time of the year. Most of the good hotels in Lake City usually run north of 70 to 80% occupancy because of some of the special events. Obviously that did not happen."

Lake City/Columbia County is a Mecca of sports tournament activity, camping, and river rafting.

Mr. Patel continued, "The month of April we definitely dropped to 20%... The majority of hotels in the town were running in the range of 20 to 23% occupancy... The rates were down probably 15 to 20% as well. Revenue dropped close to 75%. That is very similar to what we see across the United States."

An Uptick

Mr. Patel continued, "Since Florida opened up on May 4, we have seen an uptick. From 20% occupancy we are now sustaining 35 to 40% occupancy. Yesterday, most of the hotels were at about 50% occupancy."

"We are feeling better and better as every week passes. I think we will maintain 30 to 45% as we move forward."

Mr. Patel continued, "I think we have already seen the bottom and we will see improvement in the performance of the hotels as we move forward."

Post Meeting: "Enhanced Cleaning"

After the meeting ended Mr. Patel explained the new efforts his hotels were instituting to give his guests peace of mind.

Mr. Patel said, "We have implemented a 'safe stay' program. We are enhancing all the cleaning and providing hotel accommodations to people where they can feel very safe to stay in Lake City. All across our hotels we have had several meetings and we are implementing a really good brand where all of our guests will feel safe to come back. It's a good story."

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