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Sunday, 16 September 2012 18:10

State’s hotels report strong first half of 2012

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WEST MICHIGAN — Some of West Michigan’s hotels are riding the wave of record occupancy rates that has the state’s overall travel numbers at an all-time high.

According to data from Smith Travel Research, the statewide average hotel occupancy rate for this year through July hit 56 percent — the highest year-to-date average since Travel Michigan, the arm of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. that markets the state’s tourism industry, started tracking the data in 2004.

Statewide hotel occupancy in July set a record at 70.9 percent, just edging the national average of 70 percent.

The report noted the positive momentum coincides with a survey of U.S. travel volumes and spending by D.K. Shifflet & Associates that showed visitor spending in Michigan rose $500 million from 2010 to $17.7 billion in 2011.

In West Michigan, some hotels are seeing the fruits of that increased activity.

Both the JW Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott hotels in Grand Rapids are having very good years, with the JW seeing the highest occupancy rates in its history, said Nick Griffioen, director of revenue management for the Amway Hotel Collection.

“The JW is definitely having their best year ever,” he said.

Griffioen said the JW’s occupancy is up by 8 percent this year, while revenue climbed more than 15 percent from 2012.

JW Marriott General Manager George Aquino attributes the increased activity to strong convention business causing more rooms to sellout, increased corporate business travel and more weekend business from people within 100 miles.

At the Shoreline Inn in Muskegon, a hotel that went through some tough times financially before Parkland Properties’ Jon Rooks acquired it in 2009, numbers are up as well. Revenues at the hotel in July and August were up $40,000 and $30,000, respectively, from last year, said Doug Pollock, Shoreline’s general manager.

“June was (up) over $100,000 from last year,” he said. “Part of that is just the natural growth curve of the hotel getting back to where it should be.”

The other part is probably due to the efforts of the Pure Michigan campaign, he added. Pollock said he walks the parking lot of the hotel most mornings and surveys the vehicles’ license plates. At last count, Pollock tallied 17 states and three provinces. While he acknowledged some cars are likely rentals from other states, the hotel is clearly drawing from outside its advertising range, he said.

For the summer, the 130-room hotel averaged occupancy rates well above the statewide July average. Shoreline’s numbers never dipped below 75 percent from June to August, Pollock said.

“The year we took over the hotel, we did $900,000 in revenue. This year, we are a little over $2 million. That is about where the hotel should be for its size and market,” he said. “We hope to be close to $2.5 million in revenue this year.”

City Flats Hotel, a boutique hotel with locations in both Holland and Grand Rapids, also topped the state’s average for July. Both of the company’s properties have surpassed the firm’s expectations, said Katie Madonio, marketing coordinator for City Flats.

The Grand Rapids hotel, which opened in August of last year, had an occupancy rate of 71 percent in July, while the company’s Holland property operated at 90 percent occupancy for the month.

“We expect for this trend to continue through the fall months and into the new year,” Madonio said.

Still, market conditions in at least one of the region’s cities aren’t as favorable.

In downtown Battle Creek, occupancy numbers at the newly renovated McCamly Plaza Hotel are down.

The hotel’s year-to-date overall occupancy rate is at about 41 percent, said Jeremiah Rodriguez, front desk manager for McCamly. Revenue year to date is at approximately $2.3 million, he added.

“We’re not getting as many travelers as we used to,” he said. “Athletic groups attending tournaments is down, and corporate occupancy has gone down a little too.”

Battle Creek’s youth baseball series was cancelled this year, and that accounted for a lot of rooms sold in previous years, Rodriguez said.

To try to curb those losses, the hotel offers water park packages, which captured more in-state weekend vacationers and kept monthly occupancy rates strong over the summer, Rodriguez said.

Read 2976 times Last modified on Sunday, 16 September 2012 20:01
Elijah Brumback

Staff Writer

ebrumback@mibiz.com

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