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Increased demand raises Victoria hotel rental rates

By ALLISON MILES
April 14, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 14, 2012 at 11:15 p.m.


HOTEL STATS:

A closer look at the Victoria metropolitan area's fourth-quarter hotel industry stats:

2010

Hotels: 35

Nights sold: 95,000

Revenue: $6.4 million

Occupancy: 53.5 percent

2011

Hotels: 38

Nights sold: 138,000

Revenue: $10.2 million

Occupancy: 74.3 percent

Source: Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism website

Looking for a hotel room in the Crossroads? Expect to shell out a little extra cash.

Ongoing oil and industrial activity has put the squeeze on area lodging and upped room rental rates.

Calls to some Victoria hotels brought quotes of more than $200 for a weekday stay in a single room with a king-size bed.

Increased rates are nothing unusual when demand is up, said Scott Joslove, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association.

He likened the jumps to the heftier fares airlines offer around holidays and said current increases are common in areas surrounding Eagle Ford Shale play. That includes places such as Cotulla, Laredo and San Antonio.

Hotels in the Victoria metropolitan area sat at 74.3 percent occupancy throughout 2011's fourth quarter, according to tourism data on the Texas Governor's office website. That equaled $10.2 million in revenue.

The good news is that demand means more business coming into town, he said, not only through room rentals, but also restaurants, retail and more.

And, while rental rates might be up, he said the market itself will control just how high those prices can go. If consumers feel a price is unfair, they'll find somewhere else to go.

"We've had some examples over time where people have been charged unreasonable rates and didn't fill the hotel rooms," he said. "(The hotels) were the ones left holding the bag. They can't fill the room once the day's passed."

The Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau works closely with hotels to reserve room blocks for special events and groups, Director LaRue Roth said. Still, there isn't always space.

"When you're maxed out, you're maxed out," she said, explaining hotels do their best to accommodate. "It can be a challenge."

Because Victoria is a smaller town, Roth said she often works with people who arrive for a visit and don't understand the limited availability. Although they might get teary or upset when they learn the situation, the bureau and hotels find rooms as close as they can to where visitors need to be the next day.

That can be as far away as Rockport or Wharton.

Chanda Garner, manager at Victoria's Quality Inn, said she often finds herself helping drop-in guests. Like Roth, she said she apologizes to them for the inconvenience, but said there really isn't much a hotel can do when it's at capacity.

Quality Inn, 3112 Houston Highway, is typically booked every Monday through Friday, she said. Rental rates have increased, she said, and go for $119.99 for a single person, and $129.99 for two.

Weekday rates for a single room with a king-size bed go for $105.99 at the Cameron Inn & Suites, 1906 Houston Highway, said Mike Chandra, the hotel's manager. The hotel recently changed its name from Comfort Inn.

Chandra said his hotel is typically booked solid, even through weekends. However, it will be interesting to see what happens down the road, as incoming apartment complexes and hotels open up.

Ground broke March 29 on Homewood Suites, a 109-room hotel going in at 6705 N.E. Zac Lentz Parkway, while permits are already out for the Hilton Garden Inn, a hotel and convention center at 123 Huvar St.

The Hotel Western, another hotel off Zac Lentz Parkway, is also nearing completion, while multiple apartment complexes are also under way.

The openings could hurt smaller establishments, Chandra said, if they aren't up-to-date with what the newer places offer. Regardless, people will still shop around for the lowest prices.

"There will be competition," he said, noting he'd like to see new restaurants and retail come to town, especially to Houston Highway, to continue drawing visitors in.

Roth called the ongoing lodging situation a test of patience but, like Chandra, agreed it wouldn't last forever. And really, she said, it's one of the better issues to face.

"When you think about all the problems in the world, what great problems we have in Victoria," she said. "We have nothing to complain about."

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