Despite an overall increase in hospitality employment, more than 500 hotel workers are facing layoffs before the end of June due to ownership changes or renovations at four South Florida hotels.
The four properties issued layoff notices to 538 employees, amounting to the largest number of layoffs in the South Florida hotel industry of any year since 2009, according to records from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Most of the layoffs are due to reshuffling of ownership among hotels, many of which lead to extensive renovations to transform properties under new brands, said Wendy Kallergis, president of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association.
“There’s a lot of new owners in the last couple of years and a lot of major renovations going on to keep up with where we are,” Kallergis said.
According to the most recent state figures, employment in the tourism industry, including restaurants and other food services, is up slightly by 1.5 percent between February and March in Miami-Dade County. In Broward County, the increase was 1.1 percent during the same time period.
Still, Kallergis said, “when [hotels] have to go through [layoffs], it’s a very tough thing to go through.”
538 Number of workers laid off at four South Florida hotels between April and June
At the Alexander All Suite Oceanfront Resort in Miami Beach Wednesday, 119 workers will find themselves without jobs.
The hotel will change management, from North Carolina-based Boykin Management Co. to New Jersey-based Yahav Enterprises LLC, which purchased the hotel in January 2015.
The reason: renovations, said Michael Webster, a spokesman for the hotel’s owner. The hotel, at 5225 Collins Ave., will undergo a 10-month renovation process that will require staff cuts to balance costs.
The Alexander, which has about 100 rooms in its hotel program, will only maintain about 30 employees, many of them key personnel or part of the executive team.
In December, when the renovations are due for completion, laid-off workers can reapply for jobs at the hotel, Webster said. In the meantime, human resources staff will advise affected employees, helping them write resumes and directing them to job fairs, he said.
Renovations are creating job losses for another 112 employees at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport and Cruise Port Hotel in Dania Beach. In June, the 250-room hotel will close for a $30 million renovation as it transforms into Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's Parisian brand, Le Meridien.
Le Meridien Fort Lauderdale Airport, at 1825 Griffin Road, will open in late 2017.
In a letter filed with the State of Florida, hotel owner Cohen Dania Beach Hotel, LLC said 87 full-time employees and 25 part-time workers in jobs ranging from managers to housekeeping staff to servers will be laid off.
CareerSource Broward, which offers services for displaced workers, will hold a job fair exclusively for workers of the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale on May 17, said a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Tony Ash, vice president of communications for CareerSource Broward, said various hospitality groups, as well as hotels with vacancies, such as the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort and the JW Marriott Marquis Miami, will be recruiting.
“The Sheraton, they kind of went above and beyond in terms of bringing us in to try to get as many of the impacted workers another job in the quickest turn around possible,” Ash said.
In Broward County, mass layoffs in the hotel industry are unusual, he said. Broward County led the state in 2015 in terms of hotel occupancy, signaling a robust tourism industry.
Miami-Dade County’s hotel industry has also seen a boost in the last year. About 1,500 hotel rooms have been added since early 2015, now at a total of about 52,000 in the county.
Among those in flux will be the Shore Club Miami Beach hotel, laying off 218 workers. The hotel will transition into the Fasano Miami Beach, the first U.S. hotel for the Brazilian brand. HFZ Capital Group bought the iconic waterside resort for $175 million in 2013.
A notice filed with the state informed workers that the hotel was expected to close “on or about April 15,” however a closure date has not yet been established.
Plans for the new property include transforming the 309-room hotel into a 100-room hotel with 75 luxury residences. The Fasano Miami Beach, at 1901 Collins Ave., is expected to open in late 2017.
The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour also will face layoffs, albeit temporary. According to a notice filed with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, 89 employees will be laid off in June for two weeks, from June 3 to June 17
According to the notice, a third-party company has been hired to operate certain aspects of the food and beverage operation at the 124-room hotel at 10295 Collins Ave. The hotel management did not return phone messages asking for clarification.
Among those laid off: an executive chef, bar attendants and stewards.
This story has been updated from its previous version.