OUR OPINION: Hotels rising for opportunities

By NEMS Daily Journal

Confirmation this week that two well-known Tupelo hotels – both occupying prime real estate – will close is part of the economy’s response, reaction and renewal in the face of change.
The Howard Johnson’s motel property on the southwest side of North Gloster Street at McCullough Boulevard will give way to a new Holiday Inn & Suites and a Candlewood Suites, coming full circle to the Holiday Inn affiliation with which it started more than 50 years ago.
The Travelodge across North Gloster from the Howard Johnson’s has closed after spending most of its existence known as “the Ramada.”
Two other hotels behind the Travelodge – the Clarion and the Rodeway Inn – remain open and are not affected.
Hotel development echoes the economic pulse of cities like Tupelo.
Downtown Tupelo of the early 20th century was the magnet for several hotels, including the landmark Hotel Tupelo, which stood where BancorpSouth’s headquarters is today. The Jeff Davis Hotel was farther north on Spring Street (it’s now a law firm’s offices), and the smaller Kinney Hotel was in what’s now a parking lot beside Ross & Yerger Insurance.
Those hotels gave way to motels along U.S. Highways 45 and 78 – especially Highway 45.
Hotel business models differ by brand and chain, and nothing is left to chance.
New hotels open because financial analysts see the market demographic that makes money, so hotels in the Barnes Crossing commercial/retail/entertainment area aren’t surprising. Neither is the redevelopment of the Howard Johnson parcel.
The need for hotel rooms is a good indicator that Tupelo is a destination for many travelers, whether for an overnight on a longer trip or an extended business stay.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau gears its events recruitment and promotions to attractions, tournaments, conferences and festivals that will bring people to Tupelo for one night or more.
Business Editor Dennis Seid reported Wednesday that Bruce Patel of Fusion Hospitality – formerly called ABRMP Management in Tupelo – is going ahead with plans to build a four-story, 80-room Candlewood Suites on the Howard Johnson property, and he is adding a five-story, 120-room Holiday Inn and Suites.
The Candlewood will be built on the smaller portion of Howard Johnson nearest McCullough, while the Holiday Inn & Suites will be built on the footprint of the main building of the Howard Johnson.
The Travelodge property’s future isn’t known. The site remains a strong location, and we hope investment can be found to match the opportunity it represents.