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Not long before the town in which he owns the largest estate put a stop to new hotel reservations and just a week or so before the governor of whom he is a patron much belatedly issued a stay-at-home order—but not before said governor warned New Yorkers not to spread their cooties to his quiet little beach state—Ken Griffin started making some plans to keep his trading outfit up and running amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that was shutting down cities like New York and Chicago where his people worked. This plan involved renting out an entire hotel a few miles south of his oceanfront acres and getting some of those New Yorkers and Chicagoans down their stat.

These being top-level Citadelers, any old hotel wouldn’t do, even in ritzy Palm Beach. Only the Four Seasons would suffice. And boy oh boy, are those lucky couple dozen making the most of their imprisonment in paradise.

With Palm Beach County beaches closed, orange cones on the sand delineate the hotel’s property. Over the weekend, guests played tennis on the resort’s immaculate green clay courts. At one point, music could be heard blaring from the resort.

The hotel is offering “reduced services” to its guests, Laurie Herrick, a Four Seasons spokeswoman, said in a statement. Restaurants are closed, though takeout and in-room dining options are available.

Sounds pretty sweet, but also apparently in violation of all of the rules Palm Beach County—unsurprisingly given the relative concentration of New Yorkers and the aged, the part of Florida hardest hit by coronavirus—has put in place to keep said coronavirus in check. Tennis and loud parties certainly don’t sound like they meet the social distancing guidelines, and “hotel staff catering to a handful of traders and their families” and “off-duty cops making sure no one without Citadel clearance is allowed in” sound particularly like essential workers, and filling up a hotel with people so recently in such COVID-19 hotspots at New York and Chicago certainly goes against the spirit of Gov. DeSantis’ xenophobic request (although that perhaps doesn’t matter if you give his campaign $6 million). Certainly, some of KG’s southern neighbors think something is amiss.

The town on Tuesday posted on its website that it had received “several messages of concern” regarding Citadel Securities’ presence at the Four Seasons after Bloomberg and later The Miami Herald reported about the firm’s temporary Palm Beach trading site.

“We have responded recently to the Four Seasons for several Violation of Town Ordinance complaints, but to date have not observed a citable violation,” the post said.

And how could there be, given that the town is temporarily considering the resort to be a slightly smaller version of Griffin’s private estate up the way.

The town is treating the property as a private residence where people inside can work — or swim in the pool — as they would in any home, said Michael Ogrodnick, a Palm Beach spokesman.

“As far as we’re concerned, they’re in their own bubble,” Mr. Ogrodnick said.

No Trading Floor? No Problem. A Financial Firm Quarantines at the Four Seasons. [NYT]



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