The COVID-19 pandemic has caused universities to shift graduations and other usual landmarks that would bring in students and families for stays at area hotels.

Hotel Madison in Harrisonburg saw many cancellations on the doorstep of James Madison University’s shelved spring commencement, according to Paul Gladd, a principal and co-owner of dpM Partners, the company that manages the facility.

However, stays at the hotel have been building steadily since dropping rapidly in March when the pandemic first took hold in Virginia.

“We like the trend of transient [stays increasing], but we’re still anxiously awaiting the return of our groups so we can return to profitability,” said Gladd.

Adjoining the hotel is the Shenandoah Valley Conference Center, which had been increasing the number of events held at the relatively new center since the complex was completed in 2018. But the coronavirus pandemic brought the events and the event center’s momentum to a lurching halt, according to Gladd.

“It was a perfect storm for us,” Gladd said, referring to the pandemic’s impact on the facility.

But the hotel is still having guests and working with JMU to help raise the profile of the hotel to attract as much business as possible.

“We’re up to 40% occupancy in a fairly large hotel without having group events,” Gladd said. “We are finding our way out of this pandemic one room at a time.”

He said as the students start to return for school, more families are starting to stay at the hotel, helping to offset the business lost by events being rescheduled for 2021.

“The parents are staying with us as they help their students move into off-campus housing,” he said.

The Crimson Inn in Bridgewater has stopped taking guests to the college over the summer, which it has done in the past, according to an email from Jessica Luck, editor and director of media relations for the institution.

“That was a switch that happened this summer,” she said in an interview.

The facility is owned and operated by Bridgewater College, she said. The school bought the property in August 2014 to afford more flexible housing options for its growing student body, according to Luck. The facility houses 44 students during the academic year.

“Previously, the inn had functioned as a hotel during the June and July summer months, operated by a professional management company, but that has changed as of summer 2020, when the College took over operations of the Crimson Inn,” Luck said in an email.

Luck said she was unable to say if the COVID-19 pandemic had anything to do with the shake-up.

Contact Ian Munro at 574-6278 or imunro@dnronline.com. Follow Ian on Twitter @iamIanMunro

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