Business aims to add a bit of home for those temporarily in town
Aug. 13, 2013 at 3:13 a.m.
From the appliances to cook a meal to the dishes it takes to eat it and the towels to dry the plates, many details go into creating a comfortable home.
And one Victoria company is working to make those small details available to those who are just in town for the short term.
Victoria Corporate Housing began in January, providing fully equipped apartments complete with furniture, washers and dryers, linens and more. Companies can lease units or blocks of units for anywhere from 90 days to two years.
The idea came when co-owner Liz Williams and her husband put their own home up for rent, she said, and calls came from people asking whether the home was fully furnished with bills paid.
Once she realized those were the only calls they were receiving, the wheels started turning.
"We decided not to do this with our own home, but we did some research," she said, noting that meant looking into area hotel rates. "We decided there was a need - not just for profit but to help people."
Thus, Victoria Corporate Housing was born.
Today, the company offers 16 units in several apartment complexes, she said, and most are in The Remington, 2402 N. Ben Wilson St. Maid service is available twice a month - more often, for an additional charge - and turnover can generally take place as early as 72 hours after the contract is signed.
Units range from one, two and three-bedroom models, but the two-bedroom variety is most popular. Rental rates vary anywhere from about $2,000 to $3,200 per month.
"We wanted to give quality pricing, and this is so much cheaper than a hotel," she said. "We didn't want to gouge anyone."
Victoria's hotel situation has been tight in recent years, with low vacancy rates and hefty rental rates. Still, LaRue Roth, director of the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that's beginning to ease some.
Between March and June, nearly 300 new rooms came on board, for instance. Three hotels under construction are slated for completion late this year or early 2014.
Roth spoke with area hotels and found weekend prices ranging from about $79 to $115 per night - nothing quoted at more than $139. That's a steep change from just months ago.
"Rates are falling more in line with the state average," she said, adding that some hotels reported occupancy rates of 80 percent or higher, while occupancy was down for others. "It really has changed."
Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said there is a need for businesses such as Victoria Corporate Housing in the Crossroads. Not only are oil-field workers making their way to town, but so are others with area plants.
A couple of other companies offer similar services in town, he said, and they seem to be doing good business.
"There's a big difference between spending three to four months at home versus spending them in a hotel," he said. "It was a needed niche."