With the opening Friday of the new AC Hotel by Marriott in downtown Asheville, it’s time to check in on the city’s hotel-building boom. The wave started about five years ago as the economy bounced back from the Great Recession and Asheville started landing major media attention as a to tourist destination.
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, which serves hoteliers, noted the trend and estimated about three years ago that an estimated 1,700 new hotel rooms were in the pipeline construction, a 25 percent increase in the number of hotel rooms available in Buncombe County.
So far, occupancy and room demand have held relatively steady, despite the ongoing addition of new rooms for rent (and despite the attention on Asheville’s popularity with Airbnb users.) But all the new competition remains a serious concern for hotel owners. So here’s a quick look at what’s opened and what’s in the pipeline. I’m sure I’m missing some, so please let me know what those are.
-The Arras: That’s the new name of the former 18-story BB&T office building on Pack Square currently being renovated by John McKibbon of McKibbon Hospitality. The project will include a 128-room boutique hotel, condos, retail and space for two new restaurants operated by Peter Pollay, the chef/owner of Posana restaurant who is overseeing the new Capella on 9 rooftop restaurant and bar at AC Hotel. It’s scheduled to open in December 2018. This will add another possible option to people looking to find their dream hotel for their dream vacation. Hotel Jules could help people wade through the many options out there to ensure they make the right choice.
-Cambria Suites: A 12-story, 136-room hotel featuring two new restaurants at the corner of Battery Park and Page avenues. It’s scheduled to open this fall.
-Asheville Foundry Inn: A 92-room boutique hotel in three existing, renovated building and two new buildings, under construction at the corner of Eagle and South Market streets behind the YMI Cultural Center. The project is by Curio Collection by Hilton. No word on its opening date.
-The Parisian: A 61-room boutique hotel proposed for the former Bank of America building on Patton Avenue. Plans have been drawn up and been approved, but there’s been no start of construction.
-Element Hotel: A 100-room boutique hotel that’s been approved for a lot off College Place (which is off Town Mountain Road) on the west/downtown side of the downtown tunnel. Construction is set to start this fall.
-Towne Place Suites: A 5-story, 45,000-square-foot, 104-room hotel proposed for a vacant lot at 39 Elm Street off of Merrimon Avenue. The project has been approved, but construction hasn’t started.
-Embassy Suites: Asheville City Council voted unanimously in January to deny approval of the 8-story, 185-room hotel at 192 Haywood Street, right across from the new Hyatt Place hotel opened by in the past couple of years by the same developer, Shaunuk Patel. He’s filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn City Council’s decision.
-Hotel Krish: Asheville City Council recently approved the 86-room hotel on the city’s outskirts at 1500 Tunnel Road.
-Fairfield Inn and Suites: An 80-room hotel at 184 Tunnel Road is under construction now.
-Innsbruck Hotel: A 103-room hotel proposed near Innsbruck Mall off Tunnel Road. The hotel flag is Candlewood Suites. Still in the planning stages.
So far, there’s been no new hotel construction proposed for West Asheville, though there have long been rumors that a hotel would pop up along Haywood Road, which is booming with new restaurant, brewery and retail development.
River Arts District
Word on the street is that a boutique hotel is being planned for the former Kent Building on Roberts Street.
There’s a new hotel going up on Brevard Road near the Interstate 240 interchange, loyal reader James reminds me. (Possibly a Hampton Inn, need to doublecheck.)
Here’s a weak spot for me. There have been two or three new hotels proposed or under construction, as I recall, but I need to track down details.
-Biltmore Station Hotel: A planned 4-story, 120-room hotel along Thompson Street. Still in the planning stages.
-Courtyard by Marriott: A planned 5-story, 112-room hotel along Meadow Road. Still in the planning stages.
-Hilton Garden Inn at the corner of Charlotte and College opened in July 2016 with 150 rooms.
-Hyatt Place on Haywood Street near downtown opened in April 2016 with 140 rooms.
-Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton opened in June 2017 across Hendersonville Road from the Holiday Inn (listed above) with 118 rooms.
-Holiday Inn & Suites on Hendersonville Road opened this summer on the spot of the former Howard Johnson’s near Biltmore Village with 118 rooms.
Isn’t it odd that our heady city council approves hotels outside of downtown, but has rejected some inside. Most tourists are then travelling into town by car exacerbating the parking and traffic situation vs what could have been. And no Cecil, by 2030 car traffic will not be down some crazy 80%.
Well, there are existing hotel clusters, generally close to interstate exits. And some of those clusters aren’t related to downtown, e.g. the ones near the VA which are mostly low-cost and accommodate people coming in for treatment from more rural parts of WNC. Adding to existing clusters is less contentious than creating a new one, especially downtown.
Oh, another hotel downtown would be creating a New cluster? Odd logic.