Jacksonville's Largest Hotel Lays Off 200 Ahead Of Republican National Convention

Jun 17, 2020

The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel, which is the largest and closest facility to the site of the August Republican National Convention, is shedding 200 workers ahead of what the Duval GOP describes as the "greatest event to come to Jacksonville since the Super Bowl."

The hotel alerted the state on June 3, writing, "It has now become clear that the demand for travel, events and hospitality services will take substantially longer to resume than previously anticipated."

Describing the situation as the "new normal," Hyatt Jacksonville General Manager Joe Hindsley told the state while his company originally anticipated employee furloughs or layoffs would be temporary, "We must now engage in some employee separations that are expected to be permanent."

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A wide range of employees such as cooks, bell hops and housekeeping staff are among those being let go. The hotel said the layoffs were expected to be completed by June 14.

The Republican National Committee announced Jacksonville would be hosting part of its 2020 convention on June 11.

At the time, Mayor Lenny Curry announced Visit Jacksonville's Michael Corrigan worked to secure more than 10,000 hotel rooms in the region.

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The Hyatt, with 951 rooms, is a 4-minute drive or 16-minute walk to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, according to Google Maps.

The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena is less than a mile away by foot from the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel.
Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

"With such a significant reduction in our business in a rapidly evolving situation, we have to make painful choices that would have seemed unthinkable just a short time ago," Hindsley wrote.

WJCT News has reached out to Hindsley to find out how the hotel plans to accommodate the influx of guests during the convention and whether the layoffs will affect how many convention-related events the hotel can host. This story will be updated if a response is received.

Other Hyatts across Florida have also been furloughing and laying off workers. The following locations also filed notices with the state this month:

  • Hyatt Regency Miami: 209 employees affected
  • Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport: 220 employees affected
  • Hyatt Regency Orlando: 694 employees affected
  • Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa: 227 employees affected
  • Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay: 209 employees affected
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress: 382 employees affected

According to WJCT News partner The Jaxson, the next two largest First Coast hotels are outside of the city.

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Nassau County is No. 2 with 704 rooms, and the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach is No. 3 with 514 rooms.

The next largest Downtown hotel is the Omni Jacksonville Hotel with 354 rooms, according to The Jaxson.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.