US delegation's Davos pullout creates rare commodity - hotel vacancies

With the US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron choosing to not appear for the World Economic Forum, hotel rooms are now being freed up.
With the US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron choosing to not appear for the World Economic Forum, hotel rooms are now being freed up.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GENEVA (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump's decision to cancel the United States delegation's participation in Davos created a rare commodity days before the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) - vacant hotel rooms.

Mr Trump cancelled the planned trip of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the rest of the US delegation to the Swiss mountain resort to deal with the US government shutdown, meaning hundreds of hotel rooms are suddenly free, Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported. Now, some of those on long waiting lists may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Some who already have rooms may still benefit, particularly those who had sought four-star or five-star accommodations and had been relegated to cheaper hotel. Others forced to reserve in surrounding towns may also get lucky, the newspaper reported, citing Mr Ernst Wyrsch, president of Graubuenden's Swiss Hotel Association.

US bookings at the event included US$231,855 (S$315,000) worth of rooms at the three-star Madrisa Lodge in Klosters-Serneus and a booking worth US$103,935 at the five-star Hotel Quellenhof in Bad Ragaz, the newspaper reported, citing figures from a US government database. Rooms at the Madrisa Lodge are now available on Booking.com from Tuesday (Jan 22), when the forum starts, from a starting at a price of 2,305 francs (S$3,154) for one person.

Participation at the meeting is capped at 2,500 official guests, but thousands more descend on Europe's highest town in January because of surrounding WEF events. The forum has even considered housing its staff in temporary containers to reduce the perennial lodging crisis during the annual meeting.

This year, it is not only the entire US delegation not making an appearance, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron are also ditching Davos, as are both are dealing with a crisis in their respective countries.

The cancellations may be a boon for some of the town's hoteliers: cancellation fees at this stage are likely 100 per cent of room prices, so refunds for the Americans are unlikely, Tages-Anzeiger reported, citing Mr Wyrsch. This means the hotels may be able to sell their rooms twice this year, the newspaper said.