Big brand hotels stay open in Russia, but suspend development

While multiple global hospitality-related brands like McDonald’s Coca-Cola and Starbucks are temporarily halting operations in Russia, most major hotel brands continue to fly their flags, stating that they are doing so to support hotel staff and current guests in the country waging war with neighboring Ukraine.

HOTELS reached out to multiple major hotel companies with a strong presence in Russia and most who replied said they are suspending all new development efforts and offering humanitarian where needed. On Thursday morning, HOTELS was still waiting on responses from Marriott International and Interstate Hotels & Resorts, but it has been reported that Marriott closed its corporate office in Moscow and will also pause new development in Russia.

In a statement, Hyatt Hotels Corp. said its focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of its colleagues and guests in both Ukraine and neighboring countries “who face these unconscionable challenges.”

Hyatt is providing refugee accommodations across Europe, sending supplies to the people of Ukraine, offering job transfers for Hyatt colleagues and started a relief fund for our Hyatt colleagues in need of basic necessities, relocation support and care. “We will continue to work to expand our humanitarian efforts across the Hyatt portfolio,” the statement read.

The Moscow River and skyline

Hyatt has suspended development activities and any new investments in Russia and will continue to evaluate hotel operations in Russia, while complying with applicable sanctions and U.S. government directives. “Understanding that many people in Russia face challenges and uncertainty about their future as well, we are determining how best to support and care for our hotel colleagues and current guests in the country,” Hyatt’s statement said.

Hilton’s existing 26 manage or franchised hotels are currently operational. However, a spokesperson told HOTELS that the company will not be taking any profit from business operations in Russia. “Our hotels exist for the purpose of providing safe and welcoming accommodations, which continue to be needed,” the spokesperson said. The actions we are taking are to suspend all new development activity in Russia; suspending our corporate office in Moscow (ensuring continued work and pay for any impacted team members); supporting humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine, including donating any Hilton profits from business operations in Russia to support humanitarian relief.”

Hilton is also donating up to 1 million room nights to support Ukrainian refugees and humanitarian relief efforts across Europe, in partnership with American Express, #HospitalityHelps, and its community of owners.  As previously announced, the Hilton Effect Foundation has contributed US$50,000 to World Central Kitchen and Project Hope to further assist with humanitarian aid.

With 57 Accor branded hotels in Russia and five in the pipeline for 2022, the Paris-based company continue to operate in some capacity as the group stated it plays a key role in supporting its 3,500 employees, their families and local communities.

Accor has also suspended all planned openings and all future developments in Russia, as well as loyalty partnerships with Russian counterparties. In addition, the group is fully complying with the lists of sanctions enforced by the European Union, the United States and United Kingdom.

All Accor management, booking, distribution, loyalty and procurement services to hotels for which owners are included on these lists of sanctions are suspended.

“In times of turmoil, Accor hotels remain shelters to many people, including foreign citizens, NGOs and media,” a spokesperson said. “Accor is one of the largest hotel operators in the region, with hotels in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Moldova. Since the start of the conflict, Accor teams have been mobilized to support Ukrainians in need, providing shelter, essential services and financial support.”

Looking at data on flight bookings from ForwardKeys, comparing the previous week to bookings made between February 24 to March 2, excluding Ukraine and Moldova, which closed their air space, and Russia and Belarus, which were subjected to flight bans and safety warnings, the destinations worst affected were generally those closest to the conflict. Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia all saw a 30% to 50% collapse in bookings. All the other European countries, except for Belgium, Iceland, and Serbia, which saw single digit drops, experienced a decline in bookings between 10% and 30%. Domestic flight bookings in Russia fell 49%.

1 comment
  1. guido kerpel
    guido kerpel
    March 11, 2022 at 3:22 am

    I find it odd that while many multinationals are closing their doors temporary in Russia, the large lodging companies (very coordinated) today come out with a pretty weak message. “We are closing our regional offices and will not do new hotels in Russia”. How is that putting pressure on the Russian government? The franchise fees and revenue/profit generated in Russia has already been reduced by 70% due to the fall of the ruble so ongoing income/profit is minimal anyway, This move is just following the international herd to reduce potential reputational damage but isn’t making a material difference, take a heroic stance and be a force for good.