Downtown Atlanta hotel’s financial troubles a sign of times for lodging industry

ATLANTA — One of downtown Atlanta’s largest hotels is in financial trouble. The Hilton Atlanta hotel on Courtland Street is in foreclosure and at minimum could have to change owners.

It’s a sign of how hard the lodging industry has been hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re all in a lot of trouble,” Jim Sprouse told Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer. “It’s true across the country.”

Spouse leads the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association. He said the largest hotels, such as the 30-story Hilton on Courtland, are getting hit the hardest.

“The big hit is just group business. I mean group business is just gone,” he said.

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Public records show the Hilton, built during Atlanta’s skyscraper hotel boom era of the 1970s, is set to be auctioned in just weeks on Sept. 1.

It’s a big problem. The hotel’s current debt is shown to be in excess of $218 million. At best, it could be several more months before convention business can return.

“Looking through the fall, all major events have dropped out of picture. Still holding our own first quarter next year. The key to it is building up consumer confidence that it’s safe to come back,” Sprouse said.

Sprouse added that the hotels are employing the most aggressive cleaning procedures ever conceived, but it’s only half the equation.

“You can distance. You can wear a mask. People asked to wear a mask. It’s a dual responsibility, not just on the business, but on the consumer as well,” he said.

Spouse encourages people who want to support local travel and leisure to check out Explore Georgia.