Lending a Hand: Benchmark, Caesars and More

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—At this time of crisis, those associated with the hotel industry make every effort to take care of their own, as well as others in the areas that they serve. Here are some organizations that are helping any way they can during the coronavirus pandemic:

Benchmark Offers Discount to Frontline Personnel
Benchmark revealed that its managed hotels within its two luxury brands, Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Gemstone Collection, are offering lowest employee accommodation rates to healthcare workers and first responders—extending throughout 2020. Properties participating in the Essential Heroes program include Benchmark hotels and resorts such as Gloria & Emilio Estefan’s Cardozo South Beach in Miami; The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa in Manchester, VT; The Abbey Resort in Lake Geneva, WI; La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio; Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz, CA; Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii; and Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort on Curacao.

“Our company’s passion is to ‘Be the Difference,’ and these heroic healthcare professionals and first responders have been doing just that and more for all of us,” said Alex Cabañas, CEO of Benchmark. “Our Essential Heroes program is our way of thanking and celebrating these extraordinary professionals who are on the front line making an enormous difference in all of our lives during this unprecedented time.”

Effective immediately, Benchmark hotels will offer their lowest employee rates, from $65 per night, to doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other frontline healthcare employees, as well as firefighters, police and members of the National Guard—all of whom are leading the fight against the global pandemic. Participating hotels that are currently closed in response to COVID-19 will accept reservations for future 2020 travel dates when they reopen for guests in coordination with guidance from the CDC, local and state officials.

Caesars Entertainment Creates Caesars Care Fund
Caesars Entertainment has established an assistance fund, Caesars Cares, to support team members at the company’s properties across the U.S. who suffer unanticipated hardships, including during the closure of Caesars properties as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The company also revealed that donations made by Caesars Foundation will support charities addressing COVID-19 issues in the communities where it operates. The foundation’s initiatives will build on the company’s ongoing efforts to address COVID-19-related needs in these communities. It has already donated hundreds of thousands of pounds of food to local food banks, as well as cleaning supplies and thousands of personal protective equipment items to first responders and medical facilities. It also recently contributed cots and hundreds of bed linens, pillows and hygiene kits to various homeless shelters and care facilities.

The employee assistance fund will be composed of contributions during the property closures in the form of donations from Caesars’ board of directors and executives. Caesars Cares will be administered by Lifeboat Inc, a Louisiana-based public charity, and will be managed and overseen by an independent board of directors that includes a Caesars representative. The independent board will evaluate applications for assistance to help Caesars team members based on unusual hardships arising from the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“Company support, in the forms of extended pay, paid time off and uninterrupted, company-paid medical benefits for employees enrolled in company-sponsored health plans, as well as government assistance, will be a financial bridge for most of our furloughed employees until they return to work,” said Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “However, some team members at our U.S. properties may suffer other unexpected setbacks that require additional help. Caesars culture has always been based on caring for our people and our communities. Caesars Cares will be available to our workforce nationwide, and Caesars Foundation will support local charities engaged in fighting this public health emergency. These initiatives reinforce this caring tradition and are certainly appropriate in these challenging circumstances.”

NYC Hotels Collaborate With ATLIST Travel
Hotels in New York City open to medical personnel, including Room Mate Grace in Manhattan and Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, have started providing refreshments and personal care items for their guests, with limited physical interaction. With the help of Manhattan-based tech company ATLIST Travel, these hotels have collaborated with small businesses to deliver hundreds of care packages to their guests.

Brands like Core Foods, S.W Basics, Keho Foods, 88 Acres, Seed Phytonutrients, Cocofloss and Love Corn have donated products to care packages for healthcare workers. Their donations include breakfast bars, protein snacks, hand salve, lip balm and other toiletry kit basics.

Without the ability to provide room service or open their in-house facilities, these hotels are presenting these items in their lobbies. These grab-and-go stations have become an easy and contactless way for hotels to provide a complimentary service to their medical guests on their way to or from the hospital.

“Making guests feel truly cared for is what motivates and drives our entire industry,” said Tiffany Lin, ATLIST co-founder/CEO. “Right now, those guests are doctors and nurses helping our city fight COVID-19. Our hotel partners want to do everything possible to make them feel cared for and comfortable, so that’s one of the things we are helping them do right now.”

In addition to care packages, some hotels are leveraging their restaurants to give back. Under the leadership of chef Aidan O’Neal, Le Crocodile at Wythe Hotel has been delivering meals daily to Brooklyn facilities Woodhull Hospital in Bushwick and NYU Langone Medical Center in Sunset Park. The team has been making and delivering boxed lunches to the medical facilities since early April.