Knowing the Diplomat Beach Resort will be back open on June 1 almost brings tears to Julia Lopez’s eyes.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment getting it open, it’s been the hardest 14 months of my life,” said Lopez, who has worked for 16 years at the Diplomat.
The longtime doorman is one of 150 employees back to work after navigating the unknown of the pandemic.
“It was grueling, hard, I was ground zero for what happened in the world,” said Lopez.
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The resort closed for 14 months, and in that time, the Unite Here Local 355 union employees demonstrated outside the property calling for their jobs back. Their contracts were about to expire in the spring and many worried they’d be replaced. Lopez was one of the vocal employees.
“800 families going without their breadwinner. Sometimes you have to say what you have to say to get it done and it took 14 months but we got it done,” said Lopez.
“We reached an agreement so the company will be recalling all of the workers as their jobs return,” said Wendi Walsh, Secretary Treasurer of Unite Here Local 355.
Now the union will push for the rest of those still waiting to get called back as well.
General Manager Laurens Zieren says the call may come this summer -- it all depends on how hotel capacity grows.
“If it all happens as we think, with group business and transient business, that could easily be July or August,” said Zieren.
Lopez can’t wait to breathe life back into a place he says is so beautiful.
“Get the hotel open and bring tourists back, and be the legendary place the hotel has always been,” said Lopez.
The convention space is remaining closed for now. Zieren hopes to have that section of the property back open in the coming months to host large groups once again. That event business is part of what the Diplomat is well-known for.