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Usually stuffed, Santa Barbara hotels seeing thinner Thanksgiving week

No Vacancy sign
Ryan Fish/KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Several Santa Barbara hotels still have vacancies heading into the final days before Thanksgiving, a time where rooms are normally hard to find.

The lower numbers are not a surprise, given the slowdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the large drop in travel this year.

But Gov. Newsom's new recommended 14-day quarantine for those arriving from out of state and the CDC's guidance last week urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving have hit many hotels hard.

La Playa Inn in Santa Barbara opened in March, the same week that California's COVID-19 shutdowns began. At one point it was "nearly sold out" for Thanksgiving week before the new travel guidance. Then came a wave of 10-15 cancellations made each day, according to general manager Harry Kazali.

“It’s huge,” he said. “We were counting on Thanksgiving and for the week of Thanksgiving just to kind of save us for the month. What’s worrisome is that we’re seeing that pattern possibly throughout Christmas also, which is usually another big week for us, between Christmas and New Year’s.”

Tourism group Visit Santa Barbara says that hotels ranging from economy to luxury across the city are seeing "significant cancellations for this weekend."

Other hotel general managers tell us they've seen "some" cancellations in the past week, but that many people who booked rooms did not abandon their travel plans.

Greg Broussard, general manager at Brisas del Mar, Inn by the Beach, says hotels may even see additional bookings from people who want to remain more physically distant from the family members they are visiting during the holiday.

“We did have a few cancellations,” he said. “A lot of the guests coming to see family are still gonna come. But maybe we’ll use our property for like a home away from home, because maybe they wanna social distance a little bit more.”

Broussard also says all of his hotel's rooms with full kitchens are booked. He notes that in the past, people have cooked Thanksgiving dinner in their hotel rooms and that more could opt to do so this year.

Article Topic Follows: Travel

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Ryan Fish

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