Superstorm Sandy Stuffs Hotels With Stranded Tourists, Displaced Residents

PHOTO: The High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, New York is offering $99 rates to those displaced by Sandy.

Travelers have started to check out of the hotels where they've been stranded as a result of superstorm Sandy. But the rooms will be quickly occupied. New Yorkers without power, heat and water are anxious to check in.

There are 500,000 New Yorkers without power, Mayor Bloomberg said Thursday afternoon.

Ericka Nelson, general manager of The Muse New York, said, "I'd say we get about 50 people a day begging for rooms. They have nowhere to stay."

The hotel has been sold out since Saturday.

And it's no exception. Hotel Tonight, the same-day hotel booking app, showed two available hotels in all of Manhattan Thursday: the St. Giles for $695 a night and the Indigo for $495. A message at Hotel Tonight said, "Rooms are limited due to Sandy, but we're doing our best to track more down! Stay safe, you guys!"

A check on those hotels' respective websites showed no availability at all.

The ONE UN New York (formerly the Millennium UN Plaza) said the property is sold out, with 45 percent of guests being New Yorkers displaced by Sandy.

Even the NFL can't get hotel rooms. ESPN reported the Pittsburgh Steelers will have to make it a day trip to play the New York Giants this weekend. The Jersey City hotel where the team was supposed to stay is flooded and officials can't find alternate lodging for the entire team.

Advice for those looking

"Every morning I go through the departures list while someone else is simultaneously going through the arrivals list, trying to figure out who is really coming and going," the Muse's Nelson said. She said her best advice for getting a hotel room is persistence. "Use every avenue available to you," she said.

She tells the story of a family who came in with a baby and told her the baby was cold, they just needed somewhere to go. "It pulls at my heartstrings," she said.

Other options

Some hotels outside the city are offering special rates for the displaced. With tunnels and bridges reopened and buses and trains getting back on track, leaving town might be the best -- and most affordable -- option.

The High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid offers a rate of $99 a day and if you stay three consecutive nights, the third night is complimentary. In addition, for every paid room as part of the offer, the hotel will donate $10 to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund to help others affected by Sandy. The hotel asks that you call 800-755-5598 or 518-523-4411 to reserve.

In Cambridge, Mass., Kimpton's Hotel Marlowe has extended a 20 percent-off promotion through the weekend. Use rate code SANDY.

In the city, Airbnb has a page dedicated to discounted "Sandy listings." The cheapest rates were as low as $10 per night. A "Midtown East Luxury" two-bedroom condo goes for $275 per night. The website is waiving all fees on these spaces.

Staff going the extra mile

For those lucky enough to find a hotel room, some staffers are going above and beyond to make sure guests are comfortable.

The Muse is pet friendly and it has "an incredible number" staying at the hotel. Luckily, a veterinarian whose three-day stay turned into a 10-day stay has offered his services to all animals at the hotel. He was needed at 9 p.m. to assist a guest's dog, Nelson said, and was happy to help. "Everyone is pitching in," she said.

The hotel even tried to make Halloween special for the kids. "The kids dressed up and went trick-or-treating from department to department," Nelson said. And because the hotel already had pumpkins in house, they put one in each room with a child with carving tools.

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