Talk of permanently closing Hyatt Regency is 'premature'

May 27, 2020

The future of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo is apparently bleak. It is not clear whether a hotel will reopen in the building attached to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center when the coronavirus pandemic breaks.

When the hotel was built in the early 1980s, it was a key factor: a hotel and convention center attached by a bridge over Pearl Street. Closed for nearly two months, the situation does not look good. Mayor Byron Brown said the owners aren't talking to him.

Credit Hyatt

"Obviously, that's a great concern. I have not heard that. No one from that ownership group has expressed that to the city," aid Brown. "Over the years, the city has invested very heavily in helping the Hyatt Regency to open, to stay open, so that we would have that hotel presence."

That convention business was a key part of the hotel business, apparently, along with customers enjoying Theatre District action and in town for professinal sporting events and concerts at Key Bank Center. All of those businesses have been in a coma during the long coronavirus lockdown.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said her staff is trying to find out what's going on.

"Now, this is brand new information to me. We're just absorbing this and trying to get more details on what the circumstances were that led to the closing," Hochul said. "Is this permanent? Temporary? What it in fact involves? So at this moment, I don't have enough information yet."

Speaking on WBFO Wednesday morning, Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Patrick Kaler said he talked with ownership.

"I reached out to ownership, Snyder Corp., and we had a conversation and they told me that press release was premature, that they've been working on this for a while and that it's been a very fluid situation, day-to-day," said Kaler. " They (are) wanting to, number one, protect our overall tourism-convention center business, the bookings that they have already coming, as well as the integrity of the hotel and their employees. And they said it's still a work-in-progress.”

Earlier this month, Hyatt announced layoffs and restructuring across its global operations to begin June 1. The chain said its actions would impact around 1,300 employees.

"Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hyatt has taken numerous actions in an effort to meet the challenges our industry is facing including reductions of company-wide expenditures, extended salary reductions for the Senior Leadership Team and Board of Directors, and temporary work and/or pay reductions for all corporate colleagues," it said in a statement. "Unfortunately, with increased visibility into the effect that the pandemic is having on the hospitality industry, it has become apparent that additional measures are necessary to meet this unprecedented challenge."