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Winter Park-based Timbers Resorts is laying off workers and putting others on unpaid leave

A view of The Sebastian resort hotel and private residence club in Vail, Colorado.
A view of The Sebastian resort hotel and private residence club in Vail, Colorado. (Timbers Resorts)

Winter Park-based Timbers Resorts is laying off, furloughing and cutting pay on a large amount of its workforce across the globe.

In an email sent to employees Sunday, CEO Greg Spencer said a significant number of its total workforce will either have their hours significantly reduced, will be furloughed, or will be laid-off. Those cuts will affect one out of eight employees at the headquarters office.

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The email credits the company’s decision on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, as cities around the country curtail large public gatherings, shut down businesses, institute curfews and close schools to prevent an outbreak.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented action,” Spencer said in the email. “Just 10 days ago the general consensus was that this would be a 10 to 21 day impact isolated to certain areas of the global[sic].”

Even as the hotel industry faces crippling losses, the Omni Orlando at ChampionsGate is pushing forward on a major capital project.

The email states Timbers Resorts executives are cautiously trying to continue business during virtually a shut down economy.

“I would love to have a company where people can work their entire careers, [but] we know that is not reality and not probable," Spencer wrote.

“Right now we owe it to our 4,000-plus owners and the roughly 1,500 people that make up our workforce to take action so Timbers can continue on and hopefully, after some healing, flourish."

Founded in 1999, the high-end hospitality developer and operator runs a number of boutique hotels, residence clubs and resort communities in markets that include Florida, Colorado, Hawaii and Tuscany.

In a statement to GrowthSpotter, Timber Resorts said the company laid off eight staff members and furloughed two employees at its Winter Park headquarters. Meanwhile, a significant number of its staff, in regions where residents are required to stay home, will be furloughed.

“As COVID-19 continues to impact our business, Timbers is making the most responsible decision for our employees and company. Like most of the hospitality industry, in locations where hospitality operations have been suspended by authorities, we’ll be furloughing a significant number of our staff until business resumes.”

According to the company email sent to staff, the Timbers team members from the Casali di Casole resort in Tuscany, as well as those working at resorts in California and Hawaii, are unable to leave their homes.

“We have two of our largest markets (representing over 70% of our historical sales) unable to leave their homes or go to work,” Spencer said. “Our owners (with over 60% owning small businesses) are fighting daily to keep their companies from going under.

In 2018, the company moved its headquarters to Winter Park from Aspen, Colorado after scoring up to $560,000 in tax fund incentives — a grant made in part by a collaborative effort between the company and state and local governments including Enterprise Florida.

At the time, the company promised to provide 80 jobs in the area. Now, it plans to shave off those jobs, but it’s not alone.

The coronavirus outbreak has led to mass layoffs and furloughs in travel and hospitality industries around the world.

Three airlines including Air Canada have recently announced a reduction in workforce and Marriott, the world's largest hotel company, said tens of thousands of hotel workers will be furloughed and let go.

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“We have never had to lay off a single corporate employee through either September 11th or the Credit Crisis," Spencer said in the email. “Unfortunately, this coronavirus impact is far worse than either of those events from an economic standpoint.”

Editor’s note: The previous headline of the story stated a significant amount of workers at Timbers Resorts are being laid off. The company contacted GrowthSpotter to clarify it is furloughing a significant amount of employees. Lay-offs and pay cuts are still occurring.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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