Colonial Williamsburg closing most hotels, furloughing staff
Foundation is also offering hotel space for emergency housing and care.
In response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, Colonial Williamsburg is expanding its closures to include most of its hotels and will furlough most hospitality staff after April 11. The already-financially challenged history tourism foundation has also immediately instituted pay cuts for all employees making more than $50,000 per year, with the highest-paid managers taking the largest cuts.
The closures are expected to last until at least April 30. The Williamsburg Inn, the Griffin Hotel and the Woodlands Hotel & Suites are closing. The Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection will remain open, in part, to assist the city and public health officials with emergency needs. The foundation has also offered the Governor’s Inn as a potential emergency housing and care facility. Colonial Williamsburg has already closed its Historic Area, Art Museums, visitor center, restaurants and other facilities.
“These are difficult decisions, but based on input from leaders across our organization, our regional partners and the healthcare community, we are convinced this is the most responsible course of action,” said Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Our priorities are safeguarding the health of our staff, guests and the community, and helping the community and our employees through this very challenging time, while also protecting Colonial Williamsburg as a cultural institution.”
Williamsburg City Manager Andrew Trivette said in a statement that “Greater Williamsburg is extremely fortunate to have a partner like Colonial Williamsburg, which has offered facilities for use to solve community issues during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These facilities may prove to be essential in meeting the needs of the health care community and the City as we combat the effects of COVID-19 regionally.”
Colonial Williamsburg hospitality staff, including part-time employees working fewer than 1,000 hours per year, are being placed on emergency administrative leave with full pay and benefits through April 11, and then furloughed for the balance of the closures. Colonial Williamsburg is maintaining health insurance coverage and select other benefits for covered employees, and will also waive April rent for all furloughed employees renting Colonial Williamsburg housing.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square remains open, allowing individual shops and restaurants to operate at their discretion and based on state directives. To help support their merchant tenants, Colonial Williamsburg is waiving their April rent payments.
Fleet said, “We are working closely with many across the region as the foundation stands ready to help. After we have successfully moved through this challenging time together, we look forward to enthusiastically welcoming our neighbors and guests back to Colonial Williamsburg.”