Kimpton Cottonwood navigates re-opening during the pandemic

Posted at 7:03 PM, Nov 25, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Like many businesses in 1918, the Blackstone Hotel felt the impacts of the influenza pandemic.

Store fronts closed their doors but the Blackstone remained and has been a staple of the Omaha community for more than 100 years.

"In fact after that pandemic, we had the roaring 20's which by all accounts this was a very fun place to be back then," said Tom McLeay.

Rebranded as the Kimpton Cottonwood, owner McLeay says re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic has its silver linings.

"Temporarily I think it will be somewhat depressed. But we feel like it gives us more of an opportunity for Omaha to embrace this as Omaha's wonderful historic hotel that we think it is," McLeay said.

McLeay says they anticipate regional travelers and local staycationers will get them through the next few months to make up for the major losses the travel industry is currently experiencing due to the coronavirus.

A recent report by the U.S. Travel Association shows that since the beginning of March, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in $463 billion in losses for the U.S. travel economy.

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, two out of three hotels will close if Congress does not pass an additional relief package.

Despite these numbers, McLeay is confident the Cottonwood will make it through this pandemic, just like it did in 1918.

"This is the Orleans room. For many, many decades this was one of the most well-regarded restaurants between Chicago and San Francisco," he said.

He believes with its new charm, and historic legacy, the best days of this building are still to come.

"This hotel was here for over 100 years. It was operational as a hotel for six decades. It's going to be a hotel for another 100 years. This is a short-term issue that will pass," McLeay said.

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