Serving Up Real-Time Solutions: Island Hospitality Pivots during the COVID Crisis - McDermott Will & Emery

Serving Up Real-Time Solutions: Island Hospitality Pivots during the COVID Crisis


The COVID-19 pandemic hit the hotel industry hard: Amid widespread public health lockdowns that greatly impacted the hospitality industry across the US beginning in March 2020, business and leisure travel dried up.

Like many others, Island Hospitality—a premier hotel management and solutions provider with more than 70 hotels in its portfolio and thousands of employees—saw sales drop significantly at the height of the crisis. The company’s main focus is managing extended-stay and full-service hotels, and with a business reliant upon travel, they quickly recognized the need to pivot.

As Island Hospitality’s cash flow slowed and its business priorities shifted, so did its workforce needs.


In the fast-paced, unpredictable environment created by the onset of the pandemic, Island Hospitality turned to its trusted employee benefits and employment team at McDermott—led by Todd Solomon, Lisa Loesel, Michelle Strowhiro and Chris Foster—to advise on how to minimize the impact of the pandemic on its workforce across multiple jurisdictions, and to ensure that employees from the C suite to hotel maintenance continued to receive benefits and insurance coverage to the extent possible.


As federal and local guidance rapidly evolved, the McDermott team kept pace to help Island Hospitality address the full scope of its challenges in real time during regular status calls with company leaders. Questions particularly centered on the employment landscape and the impact of COVID, government programs and tax credits Island Hospitality could leverage to minimize furloughs and layoffs, along with continuing employee benefits such as health coverage and retirement.

“Island Hospitality is an extremely employee-friendly operation, and the focus was always, ‘How do we protect our people within the confines of being able to run our business?’” said Todd Solomon on the McDermott employee benefits team.

In addition to handling rapid-fire questions around how to manage COVID issues in a larger workforce, the McDermott team addressed issues related to labor relations, corporate charitable giving, and employee benefits design and compliance.


With properties spread across the US, Island Hospitality needed the McDermott team to pivot quickly between jurisdictions to address the company’s workforce and benefits needs efficiently and accurately.

In the face of a global crisis with profound effects on the hospitality industry as a whole, the McDermott team made it a priority to treat Island Hospitality’s business as their own, responding to their calls at all hours of the day and serving as a rapid legal response team.

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