Sunday, December 12, 2010

More downtown hotels needed for growth

Updated: Wednesday, 08 Dec 2010, 10:39 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 08 Dec 2010, 10:39 PM CST

KXAN (AUSTIN) - With the opening of the "W" Hotel Thursday morning, the CIty of Austin is looking for more downtown hotels to meet the growing demand from conventions and tourists.

“For a 1500 room convention, which is admittedly on the small scale, we have to use 10 to 12 hotels to accommodate that group depending on the time of year,” said Bob Lander, CEO for Austin's Convention and Visitor's Bureau .

“We can tell the demand by how much business we turn away, that we are leaving business on the table right now,” he said.

There are currently about 6,000 hotel rooms in the downtown area, but that's still not enough according to the organization.

“Right now our hotels are full, in December," he said. "A lot of towns would envy this. We got conventions going on right now where our town is full. You can’t get a room right now.”

A John Deere convention going on now, December 5th thru December 15th, has about 6,700 attendees.

“It’s pretty obvious with the occupancy numbers right now," Lander said. "That we could use some more rooms.”

Currently, the hotel occupancy level in Austin is at 75%.

“Let’s just say it’s the highest in Texas," Lander said. “Right now across the country, the average occupancy is in the low 60's.”

“Our recommendations are consistent with the notion of expanding the base of hotel rooms here as well as providing the experience to visitors when they come to Austin,” said Jim Robertson with the City of Austin's Urban Design Division.

The City held a public gathering Wednesday evening to offer the community a chance to go over the Downtown Austin Plan .

Part of the plan includes enticing more hotels to come to the downtown area.

“We believe hotels, in themselves, are a benefit for our downtown,” Robertson said. "There’s also on-going discussions, for the potential creation of a convention hotel. A hotel with 1,000 or so rooms.”

There are about seven potential hotel projects in the planning stages. Click here to view those.

The "W" Hotel opens Thursday morning at 11:30.




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