Thanksgiving feasts, festivities draw guests, locals
Thanksgiving feasts, festivities draw guests, locals
22 NOVEMBER 2016 9:21 AM

Spending Thanksgiving in a hotel? Hoteliers share plans for making the holiday special for guests, locals and employees. 

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Some hotels this Thanksgiving are going all-out to share some holiday spirit—and food—with guests and employees. Others encourage guests to get out to enjoy the festivities.

In Woodstock, Vermont, The Woodstock Inn serves an annual Thanksgiving Day meal that is a big draw both for locals and out-of-town guests, said GM Gary Thulander.

“It’s basically all hands on deck; all managers and employees will be working that day,” he said. “We are completely sold out for the hotel, and we are sold out for our holiday meal. I think we have six or seven hours of dining. We have over 550 people coming.”

On top of an extravagant Thanksgiving meal, families staying at The Woodstock Inn can have a portrait taken in the hotel’s library to be used for their Christmas cards.

“I think it’s (the Thanksgiving meal) been building over the last two or three years,” Thulander said. “I don’t believe the hotel was sold out in past for Thanksgiving, but we are now, which is good news.”

About 350 guests and locals are expected for the annual Thanksgiving brunch at the George Washington Hotel in Winchester, Virginia. To accommodate, the food-and-beverage operation will be fully staffed, said David Cavallaro, regional director of operations at Marshall Hotels & Resorts, which manages the hotel. He added that the hotel is usually about 80% full on Thanksgiving. 

Good performance without a turkey
At the Homewood Suites by Hilton Midtown Manhattan, the Thanksgiving meal has gone by the wayside, as guests gravitate to the holiday festivities happening outside the hotel, said GM Karl Baugher.

“We have in the past done a Thanksgiving meal, but nobody eats it,” Baugher said. “They’re all out. They’re at the parade, they’re out shopping. Ever since Black Friday really became Black Thursday evening, people are out shopping.”

Baugher said the hotel will be packed on Thanksgiving due to its close proximity to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route.

“We’re going to be sold out,” he said. “I’d say 95% of the people who will be staying here next week are coming in specifically for the parade.”

But services will be light, he said, so that employees “can come in, finish up the rooms and get out to be with their families.”

The Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton—Vero Beach Downtown doesn’t offer special packages or a meal to guests on Thanksgiving, but is expected to sell out rooms, said GM Brenda Celano. She added that the hotel will be staffed heavily “so that everyone can get out at a decent time to get home to their families.”

Giving to employees, community
The Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D’Iberville in Mississippi doesn’t get a lot of business around the Thanksgiving holiday, but it does observe the holiday by giving back to its employees and the surrounding community, said GM Victoria Littles.

“We give a starter Thanksgiving kit to all employees, and then we give three additional meals to the less fortunate,” she said. “We decided to donate all (additional meals) to a homeless shelter.”

Littles said the hotel will host a Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday for guests. The hotel is currently at about 45% occupancy, she said, and will only have a few employees working for the holiday.

“The only people who work are front desk, and we have one volunteer for housekeeping and one volunteer for breakfast,” she said.

Each of the managers said their hotels provide a holiday meal for employees, either the week before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving.

“We always treat our employees first,” Thulander said. “We are having a Thanksgiving meal for our employees where the managers, executive heads … will be serving food to all of the employees. So when the employees have to work, we want to make sure they are treated equally as well as our guests.”

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