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Downtown Portland's Benson Hotel temporarily closes its doors

The historic Portland hotel opened in 1913. Managing director George Schweitzer hopes a one-month closure will help navigate through the tough winter months.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland staple on Southwest Broadway, the historic Benson Hotel has hosted nearly every sitting U.S. President since President Taft. It’s also been a convenient getaway for other guests over the past few months.

“There were many people that we were getting from Seattle, from Salem, from Eugene that wanted to have a quick staycation,” said George Schweitzer, managing director of The Benson.

The hotel is happy to accommodate, but it’s also feeling the pinch of a pandemic and now a second government-ordered shutdown.

“We attempted to keep the hotel open. I didn't want to be the general manager with the dubious title of having closed the hotel after 108 years, but looks like ‘tag I’m it,’” Schweitzer said.

The Benson recently announced it will be temporarily closing its doors from now through the end of January, except from Dec. 30 to Jan. 3 for the New Year’s holiday.

“We're currently planning to reopen in February, provided all goes well, and bring back the legendary guest experience that the Benson provides for all of our guests,” said Schweitzer.

That means bringing back the staff as well, and eventually events like the annual Gingerbread Masterpiece. Schweitzer said the adjustments they made in this tough year will end up making a better future for all of Portland’s hotels.

“I think The Benson, and all other hotels for that matter, will be better in the long run. As a result of this, we've learned things that we really intuitively knew but we had to put into full practice,” he said. “And just that opportunity to be able to feel normal and travel a bit. So we look forward to making that a normal thing soon.”

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