Hotel occupancy increases, construction continues on multiple projects

Published March 06, 2019

By Cassandra.Bondie / / 616-546-4237 Posted Feb. 21, 2019 at 11:00 AM - CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE

HOLLAND — In the midst of significant changes to the landscape of the local hotel industry, occupancy rates are up. After 2017 yielded a 62.6 percent average yearly occupancy rate (down from 66.7 percent in 2016), the number rebounded to 66.6 percent in 2018. That’s according to Sally Laukitis, executive director of the Holland Visitors Bureau. The assessment district for the statistic includes the City of Holland and the townships of Holland, Park and Hudsonville.

According to Laukitis, the decrease in 2017 could be deceiving, as it was the first year that included the 142 additional rooms that were added in March 2016 with the opening of the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Holland. With those additional rooms, the total number of available rooms within the surveyed area neared 1,650. In January, another 109 rooms were added with the completion of the Home2 Suites on West Shore Drive. “It’s interesting,” Laukitis said. “I’ve been in my job for a number of years. When I started in 1994, Holland had 750 hotel rooms. Now, we have 1,742. We’re about to be right at about 2,000 when the SpringHill and Staybridge open.” The SpringHill Suites by Marriott will be located directly south of the Home2 Suites on West Shore Drive. According to meeting minutes from Holland Township, the hotel will be four stories with 100 guest rooms designed for business and leisure travelers. Exterior construction on the hotel continues to move steadily along.

The driveway is paved and the walls are partially painted. At last update, the SpringHill Suites was slated for completion during the second half of 2019. The Staybridge Suites by IHG will be on James Street, east of the Holland Town Center and Nelis’ Dutch Village. The building’s exterior is nearly complete and the parking lot has been paved. The 100-room hotel will feature apartment-style suites with full kitchens, complimentary breakfast and evening events for guests — as well as a pool and basketball court. At last update, the Staybridge Suites was slated for completion in mid-2019. Those openings may not signify the end of hotel growth in the area, either. A new marketplace, developed by Granger Group, has broken ground on the southeast corner of U.S. 31 and Quincy Street.

The marketplace will include a 72,000-square-foot hotel site. Another Granger Group development, Park Place, will bring an IHG Avid hotel to Zeeland on the southwest corner of Byron Road and the I-196 interchange. Zeeland Hospitality plans to open the hotel by spring 2020. While there was once talk of a Candlewood Suites by IHG at the intersection of U.S.-31 and James Street, approval was denied by the planning commission in June 2017 according to Corey Broersma, assistant community development director with Holland Charter Township. Broersma added that, while an application for approval was filed on Oct. 2, 2018, for permission to build a second hotel on the Staybridge Suite construction site, that application has not been approved — pending more information. Laukitis believes new hotels may bring even more visitors to Holland. “The interesting thing is hotels now have such great loyalty programs,” she said. “So, maybe someone who really likes the Hilton Home2 Suites and hadn’t really thought about coming to Holland might come because there’s a property they’re very comfortable with.” While new hotels are under construction, multiple Holland mainstays are working to upgrade their space — including Suburban Inn’s Hampton Inn and the Country Inn and Suites by Radisson. Renovations began at the Country Inn in December 2018.

The hotel, also located near the Dutch Village, will celebrate its 30th anniversary this spring. “We’re going for the modern look and feel,” manager Stephanie Sanchez told The Sentinel in December. “It’s stepping away from the home away from home, but we’ll be keeping our grand staircase.” During the renovation, the entire hotel will see large-scale upgrades, including the addition of an elevator and an updated front porch. The hotel has already received a new fireplace and a renovated breakfast/lobby area, and automatic doors have been installed. The hotel has remained open during construction. “It was slow in the month of January,” Sanchez said. “But we’ve started posting pictures on the internet and it’s bringing people in. Overall, it’s been pretty good. We try not to inconvenience anybody.” All 115 guest rooms will receive new floors, windows, doors, lighting and beds. They will also undergo a paint change as the color scheme of the hotel updates. Sanchez hopes to see construction completed by Tulip Time 2019. “Everything but the elevator will be done by that point,” she said. “We’ll probably be working a few kinks out before we release it to the public.” Renovation at the Hampton Inn on Felch Street began in 2018. “We are doing an exterior facelift and a full remodel inside,” Suburban Inns CEO Peter Beukema Jr. told The Sentinel in October. “The project should be just short of $5 million when completed in April 2019. The new exterior will be stunning and consistent with the new look of the Hampton brand. Inside the property, we are remodeling the entire building, including Sharkee’s which will now have a completely new look and feel.”

Sharkee’s is one of two restaurants in Holland owned and operated by Suburban Inns, which also owns the Holiday Inn Express on Felch Street and the Courtyard by Marriott on Eighth Street. Significant exterior renovations have already been completed, including fresh paint on multiple sides of the building and upgrades to the hotel’s entryway. According to Laukitis, the continuing growth is encouraging. “When I started, we had a budget of $169,000,” she said. “Now we have a budget of two million. And it’s amazing the number of people who hear about us. It’s fun stuff. It’s really fun stuff.”