New rooms: First of three new hotels opening Friday

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal


• 1,700 – Number of hotel rooms now available in Tupelo
• 255 – Number of rooms added with the new hotels
• 75-80 Number of new employees

TUPELO – Seth Gaines couldn’t be happier.
The sports development director of the Tupelo Convention amp& Visitors Bureau has two big softball tournaments coming to town in the the next few weeks, and he needs as many hotel rooms as possible to accommodate players, coaches and fans.
“Right now we’re short of hotel rooms for a tournament the weekend of July 21,” he said. “We do know that one, the Fairfield Inn amp& Suites, will be open by then.”
Make that two hotels.
The Hampton Inn amp& Suites will be open by then as well, and the Best Western Inn amp& Suites is scheduled to open by the first week of August.
In fact, Alpesh Patel, the owner and developer of the Hampton, said his hotel will be ready for business on Friday.
“That’s great news,” said Gaines, who markets and promotes Tupelo as a destination in the sports travel industry.
Even with some 1,700 hotel rooms available in Tupelo, it’s often difficult to find a vacancy during high-demand events like sports tournaments, conventions, meetings and the biannual Tupelo Furniture Market.
“We had 63 teams last weekend for the state baseball tournament and a few weeks back we had 120 teams for the soccer tournament,” he said.
Some teams had to stay in New Albany, Fulton and Booneville.
Patel said it’s that kind of demand that spurred his Knoxville, Tenn.-based company, the Kana Hotel Group, to open in Tupelo.
“The market is really hot right now,” he said. “There’s high occupancy not only during the week, but the weekend, too.”
The Hampton is going in behind Lowe’s in the Tupelo Commons development, and it will feature 88 rooms.
Across U.S. Highway 45 on Tom Watson Drive, the Fairfield Inn amp& Suites is scheduled to open a week from today.
“Tuesday’s the big day,” said Cindy Snyder, director of operations for Dalton, Ga.-based Ascent Hospitality, which owns the Fairfield as well as the Courtyard by Marriott in Tupelo.
When it opens, Fairfield will add 87 rooms to Tupelo’s inventory.
Ascent also owns the Hampton Inn amp& Suites in New Albany, and Snyder said the company “saw the growth in Tupelo” and bought land for the Fairfield shortly after it closed the deal to buy the Courtyard in December.
The third new hotel opening in the next few weeks is the Best Western Inn amp& Suites adjacent to Chili’s and Best Buy.
Owner and developer Bruce Patel – no relation to Alpesh – said everything’s on track for an early August opening.
The property has 80 rooms, and like the other hotels, has an indoor pool and fitness center.
Gaines said when teams come to town, they’re looking for the newest hotels with easy access to food and entertainment, and the new hotels will help keep more of them here.
“Each team brings 20 to 25 people with them, so that makes a big impact,” he said.
And Tupelo’s tourism tax revenues – garnered from a 2 percent tax on hotels, motels and restaurants – grew nearly 10 percent in March over the same period last year, the most recent reporting period.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.