DENNIS SEID: It’s a race to see who opens first new hotel

So, which of the three new hotels currently under construction in Tupelo will open first?
If you haven’t driven through Tupelo lately, it’s hard to miss the four-story buildings on the north side of town.
Let’s look at each of them:
• First to begin construction last fall was the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Tom Watson Drive. It is scheduled to open in May, according to owner and developer John Tampa.
Tampa, who heads Ascent Hospitality in Dalton, Ga., is no stranger to the industry. He’s also not new to the area, having recently bought the Courtyard by Marriott on North Gloster Street. And he also owns the Hampton Inn in New Albany.
The company has 26 properties in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. In its portfolio are hotels bearing Marriott, Carlson, Hilton and Intercontinental Hotels Group brands.
• Next came the restart of the Hampton Inn & Suites going up behind Lowe’s in the Tupelo Commons development.
Alpesh Patel, who heads the Kana Hotel Group of Knoxville, is shooting toward a late June/early July opening. He, too, is no stranger in the industry.
KHG has 20 properties in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Hotel names include Embassy Suites, HIlton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites, Springhill Suites by Marriott, Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn Express.
• Last but not least there’s the Best Western, next to Chili’s on North Gloster Street. Being built by Tupelo’s own Bruce Patel, owner of ABRMP, the hotel is scheduled to open in August.
Bruce, no relation to Alpesh, also owns the Comfort Suites and Howard Johnson in Tupelo, along with several other properties in and around Mississippi. His newest plan is to build an extended stay Candlewood Suites in Tupelo.
The three hotels, all being built simultaneously, will add more than 200 rooms to the 1,800 or so rooms now available in Tupelo.
A few weeks back, Neal McCoy, the executive director of the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau, said their openings would essentially replace the closures of the Quality Inn and Trace Inn.
According to recent figures, it might be good timing for the hotel openings.
Using statistics provided by Smith Travel Research, HotelNewsNow.com reported the average daily rate in the U.S. increased by more than 4 percent for the first time this year during the week of March 20-26. The industry’s U.S. occupancy rate compared to the same week a year earlier increased 4.5 percent to 62.7 percent, while revenue per room finished up nearly 9 percent to $64.32.
It will be interesting to see how competitive the hotels will be with pricing. Will they offer with the going rate or undercut it to attract guests?
My guess is they won’t buck the trend unless the bottom falls out of the economy. Keep an eye out on rising gas prices, though. That will put a crimp in spending, and travel budgets are often among the first slashed.
But with the apparent high demand for apartments, rentals and other places to stay in the area, the hotels probably will do just fine.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal