Meanwhile, we can’t seem to go a week without reporting some sort of hotel drama, and a variation of the usual owner vs. operator lawsuit and counter-suit seems to be happening over at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach. After two years of fighting, the Ritz flag will come down on July 1 according to Travel Weekly, having managed the property for 22 years, since opening way back in 1991. According to WPTV, the resort will continue as the Eau Palm Beach Resort, with South Florida Business Journal indicating all 452 employees have been laid off, but could stay with the hotel in its new incarnation. The Ritz website has now been updated with a statement confirming that July 1 ends the Ritz management, but we’d expect the legal wrangling behind the scenes to carry on.
UPDATE, 6.27.13: The hotel's owner wants to reiterate that all employees will be offered their existing jobs, pay and benefits. Here's a statement from RC/PB, Inc., the owner of the hotel:
We have offered hotel employees their jobs at existing pay and benefits. This includes rolling over their tenure and sick days. The majority of employees have chosen to stay with the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa – approximately 400 of the 450 staff members have been rehired, with more expected to come onboard. Over the last several weeks, we have held multiple employee town hall meetings with question and answer sessions, as well as job and benefit enrollment sessions that included Spanish and Creole translators. We look forward to working with this exceptional group of employees to build a new and successful future.
Over in Europe, Ritz-Carlton has few hotels under its own name (most notably in Berlin and since earlier this year, Vienna), and it looks like the days of its property in Ireland are numbered. The Independent in Ireland reports that The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, a country hotel outside of Dublin, was sold for just €1M – wiping its €80M debt in the process – and will become a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel:
“From October 1, the hotel will cease to be a Ritz-Carlton but will continue to trade as an up-scale independent luxury hotel. […] While remaining within the Marriott International family of brands, the hotel will become part of the Autograph Collection, Marriott International's exclusive portfolio of passionately independent hotels, […]"
If anything, this kind of re-branding – like the downgrading of Waldorf Astoria Syon Park to Hilton – shows that it isn’t just rainbows and sunshine and new openings in the luxury hotel market. For those who want to hit up the hotel in its last days as a Ritz, a Deluxe Room with breakfast goes for €260 ($354) a night early August. If you can do without breakfast, a Classic Suite goes for about $15 less.
[Images: Ritz-Carlton Hotels]