The hotel sector in Bruges has suffered its first casualty. As a result of coronavirus restrictions, the Hotel ‘t Voermanshuys has closed its doors.
The hotel is a small, family-run hotel with eight rooms, situated on the Oude Burg street that passes behind the Belfort and runs towards the Simon Stevinplein – the very heart of what is Belgium’s tourist city par excellence.
“It will undoubtedly be declared bankrupt. The dossier is already with the curator,” Moniqué Vanderschaeghe, owner of the building where Nikos Kimoulakis ran the hotel for five years, told the Krant Van West-Vlaanderen.
“I had already given Nikos a deferral of his rent payments, and have now put the property up for sale. The commercial lease was coming to an end anyway,” she said.
The hotel has been running for 36 years in a former mansion house, one of 100 hotels in the city. The remaining 99 are now fighting for survival.
Under the corona restrictions, 60 hotels are closed temporarily. The other 39 remain open, but with barely a reservation.
The sector can expect further closures, according to Dimitri Thirion of Brugse Hotels, the industry federation in Bruges.
“It will certainly be a very long winter,” he said. “We are thinking only about survival now. Hopefully we won’t lose too many colleagues, but I fear we may. Some hoteliers will not make it through this crisis.”
The extent of the problem can be seen at the four-star Hotel Heritage, a stone’s throw from the main Markt square.
“We have 22 rooms, but only two of them are occupied,” said owner Johan Creytens. “That is unprecedented for the autumn holidays. This feels like a knockout blow,” he said.
During the first lockdown the Heritage closed completely, but that’s no longer an option.
“At that time nothing at all came in from income,” he said. “We did receive a premium from the government for closing, but that was not even enough to pay for gas, electricity and water. We are happy to be open now, but we can only work with the tools we have. We’ll hold on while we can. This hotel is our life.”
The Brussels Times