Indian American hotel tycoon’s corona crisis letter

Dearest PRINCE Hotels Team members,

 Hope this message finds you healthy and safe during these trying times. It is not an easy time as for the first time in modern history, the world is united in our shared experience of pain. But in the midst of all of this sorrow, I really believe the entire world is also united in a shared prayer praying for relief and going through something that is globally profound. It has been a very, very torturous time, but our purpose of our company, which is to care for people, and the things we have to do, doing our best is intact. In a time of crisis, we have to transcend and come together for the greater good.

Hotels, unlike most other businesses, are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We never close. This is a very unsettling time – both physically and emotionally. We are concerned about our health and that of our family, friends and co-workers. We are uncertain of when this will end and what the future will look like. We are also uneasy because in hospitality what we do is take care of guests and we are virtually unable to do that now with limited services. We do our best as we dig deep within ourselves and muster all the perseverance and grit we can. We must continue to live our values of being humble, caring and kind, and apply them to our new circumstances and to the team members. Every day you are at your Hotels you make a contribution. Continue to try to feel purposeful.

We are together who find resilience and levelheadedness and kindness and cooperation precisely in the moments of greatest vulnerability.  The nation has made a call to us Hoteliers, We need to keep the hotels, an essential business going, the jobs going. You all are doing a fantastic service to the country. True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure — the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation.  Over the last few weeks, as the pressure on all of us and everyone around the world increased with exponential force, it occurred to me that there is another context in which that mantra can be applied: to real people under real pressure. And if you believe, as I do, that our TEAM MEMBERS true character — as humans and, potentially, real-life heroes — is unveiled in direct proportion to the amount of stress we are under, then perhaps there has never been a more character-revealing moment for the American and Global pandemic. The politicians, law makers, Senators, Congressmen talk about stress. They want to talk about stress? about pressure? The day-to-day realities that we all not only live with but thrive under are beyond measure. They want to talk about character? Your character proves in showing up, working hard each day.

Of course, none of the excellence, passion, and grit in the face of the adversity brought on by COVID-19 surprised me. That is simply our character, and the pressure we already deal with on a day to- day basis not only reveals it; it forged it.  Through the sheer power of our perseverance and with our collective character as a guiding light, that is exactly what we will continue to do as long as it aligns with our three North Stars — the health and safety of all Team members and our Valued guests.

The work is not easy or ideal, for me and so many of you, it has been and continues to be done with a heavy and saddened heart. Heavy because so many are suffering, scared, or grieving — if not from the virus itself, then from the fear, anxiety and hardship it presents to all of us and our loved ones. Indeed, there is no denying that my heart is heavy, but at the same time, it is also full. Full because I talk to many of you and heard your resolve and witness not just your courage and conviction in the face of this challenge, but your kindness and care in the face of the suffering it is causing. Full because I see and believe in our GMs and managers and each and every one of you who are team players and assure our staffs and help with cleaning and disinfecting procedures. And finally, my heart is full because in times of unprecedented and immense pressure, our hotels , staff may not pop from the pages of fiction or jump off the silver screen, but your true character reveals for what you are and have always been: HEROES.

Thankfully, we are not aware of any of our team members who have contracted the virus. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are experiencing the virus themselves or who have family or friends with it. Some team members are in mandatory or self-quarantine and we are thinking of them as well. I am grateful we have no cases as of today. It has been a scary and unsettling time for everyone, and we are our part in supporting our community. Providing medical and emergency personnel with FREE rooms and at  deeply discounted rates to keep our staffs humming along with positivity. We are grateful for the bravery and sacrifices our hotel staffs, medical personnel, Social Workers  are making to save lives and stop the spread of the Coronavirus, Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this terrible disease. Our teams ensure rooms are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and deeply touched by the support from the community.

From a business perspective, this is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. I vividly remember After the tragedy of September 11. The scale and impact of this on our team members and on our business is much vaster than either of those. Local restrictions combined with the nearly complete drop in business levels requires the temporary suspension of brand standards at many of our hotels. The financial loss to continue to operate these hotels has been extremely severe as to cause even more damage to the company long-term.  While there is much uncertainty remaining on how long our lives and business will be disrupted and what the recovery will look like, we do know the economic hit to the company will be significant. That is why we are taking aggressive steps to manage controllable expenses limiting operations and managing expenses as well.

When  I began the hotel business in the 2007s, then too faced unknown challenges and didn’t have a playbook with all the answers. But what I had in spades was determination and integrity. We will see this through. One lesson from the virus is the realization of how connected we all are. While we find ourselves physically separated from each other, it is with a sense of community that we will meet these challenges and overcome them together. We will continue to care for each other, and when people start to travel again — and they will — we will do what we do best — welcome them like family. Treat them like family, Once again.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I am hanging in there with you all, PRAYING.

Sunny Tolani

Los Angeles, Calif

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