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Columbus Hotel Occupancy Rates Rise, New 1000-Room Hotel Recommended

Walker Evans Walker Evans Columbus Hotel Occupancy Rates Rise, New 1000-Room Hotel RecommendedMore hotel rooms are recommended to host large scale events like the Arnold Sports Festival — Photo by Matt Ellis.
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Columbus isn’t typically regarded as a tourist destination, but that isn’t stopping our visitor numbers from growing steadily. Experience Columbus released a new report today that says that visitor volume grew by 200,000 people between 2013 and 2014 to a total of 37.9 million last year. Additionally, between mid-year 2014 and 2015, hotel occupancy rates increased by 2.5 percent while the average daily hotel rate went up 6.1 percent.

“Overall, Columbus is having a very strong year,” said Experience Columbus president and CEO Brian Ross. “We’re converting more day trips to overnight stays, during which visitors spend three times more money in our community. This is in part a result of bringing more conventions to Columbus and effectively communicating to visitors all there is to see and do in our city so that it encourages them to extend their stay.”

To accommodate the growth of conventions and related events, the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority broke ground this year on an expansion at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, which is adding 40,000 square feet of space, a new 800-spot parking garage on Goodale Street, and includes extensive renovations to the interior of the 1.7 million square foot building.

After those renovations are complete, the next big step for the area would be the addition of a full service 1000-room attached hotel.

“We built the Hilton in 2012 and added 532 more connected hotel rooms, and we’ve actually seen an increase in demand and an increase in occupancy rates,” explained Megumi Robinson, Associate Director of Public Relations at Experience Columbus. “What we hear from our clients and from national meeting planners is that we need another 1000 rooms either adjacent or connected to the Convention Center.”

Over half of that number is already in works across multiple hotel projects in the Downtown area. Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph hotel opened in January, adding 135 rooms just a block north of the Convention Center. There are proposals to add a 170-room Hilton Garden Inn and a 149-room AC Hotel near the Convention Center as well. Slightly further away, Grandview Yard is adding a 135-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel and plans have been proposed to build an extended-stay Home2 Suites by Hilton in the Discovery District. There have also been discussions about the possibilities of the Edwards Companies adding a hotel to a large High Street project they’re working on, and the Day Companies possibly doing the same at The Madison redevelopment site.

Robinson said that those smaller additions won’t offer the solutions of a larger single full-service attached hotel though.

“With a 1000-room hotel you lessen the number of individual hotels that you’re using when you bring a large convention into the city,” she stated. “You can have that one-host hotel instead of breaking up convention guests into many hotels throughout the city.”

As open land continues grows more sparse in the area, Robinson said that a large hotel expansion would either need to be positioned in the large open parking lot to the east of the Convention Center, or possibly attached to an existing building like the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which has been considered for expansion multiple times over the past several decades.

“It’s something that is being looked at, but right now it’s all about looking at the entire space and broader picture and considering all of the options,” said Robinson. “There has to be collaboration and a greater conversation with all of those entities and partners involved.” 

For more discussion on tourism and conventions in Columbus, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

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