By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Renovation work has started on one hotel, construction is imminent on another two hotels and another one is in the works.
The first project under way is at the Regal Inn and Suites on McCullough Boulevard, where the former Microtel Inn is getting a complete makeover.
Fusion Hospitality owner Bruce Patel bought the property last year and renamed it Regal earlier this year.
When the renovation is complete later this year, it will be a Comfort Inn, pending approval from Choice Hotels.
The current Comfort Inn, which is not owned by Patel, will remain a Choice Hotels property. However, the North Gloster hotel will change its brand to Quality Inn.
Comfort Inn is moving toward inside rooms for all of its hotels and that’s why the name is being changed, according to Carolyn Moss, the general manager of the Comfort Inn.
“It’s not anything to do with our inspections or the comfort of the room,” she said.
Across McCullough, Patel tore down the Howard Johnson earlier this year to make room for a 121-room Holiday Inn and Suites and a 79-room Candlewood Suites.
Originally slated to open in the first quarter of 2013, Patel said the properties would open later.
“We’re looking at about 16 months from now,” he said.
Some delays in the permitting process pushed back the project, and Patel said he’ll have to seek new bids for construction since bids are good for only 30 days.
Patel also said he is submitting plans to build a two-story Howard Johnson near the Love’s Travel Stop on McCullough.
He’ll have to go through the necessary permitting process with those plans and said he wasn’t sure of an opening date yet.
Three new hotels have opened in Tupelo since July – Fairfield Inn and Suites, Hampton Inn and Suites and Best Western Plus.
And the newer hotels are helping generate revenue for the city.
This week, travel research consultant Berkeley Young said in presentations to city leaders that Tupelo currently has 29 hotel and motel properties, two more than last year. Forty percent of the rooms in the city have been built since 2000, he said.
“There’s a migration to newer hotels,” he said, especially for business travelers. “Newer hotels will have higher occupancy rates.”
Carlie Kollath contributed to this report.