News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Jennifer Plotnick, The Bakersfield Californian
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 27, 2004 - A new 120-room hotel near the DoubleTree Hotel is almost ready for business and an 80-room hotel breaks ground next week. Two more 120-room hotels are in the planning stages and are slated to be built.
Builder M.S. Walker & Associates, Inc. plans that, by the end of 2006, the three 120-room hotels will sit next to one another on 17 acres, along with a 20,000-square-foot convention center.
"The impact these rooms have (on the city) will vary over the next few years," said Don Jaeger, president of the Greater Bakersfield Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
The Hilton Garden Inn is geared toward business and family travelers and will be open for business by mid-April, said Michael Walker, president of the company. The four-story hotel is at 3625 Mariott Drive, off of Camino Del Rio Court.
In addition to the 120 rooms, the Hilton has six meeting rooms, a restaurant, an exercise facility and a heated indoor pool.
The cost to rent rooms for the night has not yet been established, Walker said.
He didn't disclose how much it cost local owner Grand Shangrila International, Inc., to have the hotel built. But the price to build Hilton Garden Inns around the country ranges from $80,000 to $100,000 per room. With 120 rooms, that comes out to $9.6 to $12 million.
"It is an extremely sizeable investment in Bakersfield," Walker said.
Another investment is by a local family, the Yehs. It will be an 80-room hotel called Candlewood Suites, part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the four-story Candlewood Suites is scheduled for Wednesday at 8:08 a.m. at 3600 Chester Lane, which backs up to Marie Callender's Restaurants & Bakeries on California Avenue. Walker anticipates completion by the end of 2004.
The hotel will be geared toward long-term stays, and suites will have a full kitchen, and a washer and dryer will be available, Walker said. The Yehs also own another hotel in town.
Walker touts the chain hotels as an investment in the community. But that investment isn't immediately measurable, city officials said.
Any time customers stay at a Bakersfield hotel, they pay a special 12 percent tax, which then goes to the city, said Gregory Klimko, city finance director. For the fiscal year from July 1 to June 30, 2005, the city will receive about $6 million from the tax, he said.
The money is used for capital improvement projects and recreational and cultural projects, Klimko said. In addition, an estimated $660,000 next fiscal year will go to the Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
The overall economic impact of the additional hotels to the city is hard to measure, he said.
Current hotel rooms in Bakersfield are rarely all booked, except for special events, and the addition of these rooms may shift current business from other companies, he said.
"The people developing these hotels must have the view that Bakersfield is ripe for their investment," Klimko said. "From their perspective, Bakersfield must be underserved."
Bakersfield sells out of its roughly 4,400 rooms several times a year during big events, said Jaeger, of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau. But other times, existing hotels compete for corporate guests. With more rooms, occupancy at existing businesses may go down, he said.
Simply having new rooms doesn't increase the city's revenue from the hotel tax, but it may help increase revenues when hotels are filled for the big events because visitors won't have to seek shelter outside the city, Jaeger said.
"We're excited because they are top-notch franchises with strong regional and national sales support," he said. The owners will benefit from the national reservations.
It may take a few years for growing Bakersfield to need the additional rooms on a regular basis, he said.
A positive about the new hotels is they're close to other hotels. If one event needs several hundred rooms and then shuttles the guests to Centennial Garden, these additions will help.
Walker's plans for the other projects include breaking ground on the second of the three 120-room hotels -- the SpringHill Suites -- by the end of this summer and opening the hotel in 2005.
He plans to complete the third hotel by 2006.
During 2005 or 2006, Walker also plans to build a 20,000-square-foot convention center-type building.
"There's a niche for that size," he said. With the largest room in an existing hotel around 10,000 square feet and the downtown convention center at about 40,000 square feet, a middle size is needed, he said.
The building will also be dividable into four to six separate rooms, he said.
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(c) 2004, The Bakersfield Californian. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. HLT,