|By Lyxan Toledanes, Odessa American,
TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 07, 2013--The New Year is bringing new places to stay in Odessa.
Though no hotels opened in 2012, construction did begin on five hotels, with at least two scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2013, said Arleen Loyd, director of business retention and expansion at the Odessa Chamber of Commerce.
After construction delays set back a December opening, Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham Hotel Group is expected to open sometime in the middle of February, said Shafik Tejani, vice president of hotel management firm MTP Hospitalities.
"We had a deadline, and because of circumstances, it didn't happen," Tejani said of the 79 room-hotel at 4300 E. 50th St. "We've actually had people trying to book, but our opening date keeps moving. Until we know for sure, we're not taking any reservations."
The Value Place Hotel, 7501 Tres Hermanas Blvd., is also set to open sometime in early 2013, but Loyd said a more approximate opening isn't known yet.
In 2012, construction also began on Best Western, 7001 Tres Hermanas Blvd., Residence Inn by Marriott, 7261 Tres Hermanas Blvd., and Candlewood Suites, 750 John Ben Shepperd Parkway.
Combined with the Microtel Inn and Value Place, a total of 481 hotel rooms will soon be available to Odessa visitors, according to the Odessa Chamber.
Though several hotels are in the pipeline, and many companies are still vying for a spot in Odessa's economy, Loyd said that completing the hotels has progressed at a slow rate due to the construction process.
"It's all the phases that go into constructing a project, everything from environmental evaluation of the property to the foundation to replatting," Loyd said, adding that even buying concrete can be a six- to eight-week wait.
"I talk with companies who want to come into Odessa and quickly buy a piece of property and take advantage of the economy, and I have to let them know it's not a wheel that turns that fast," Loyd said. "You may get the land purchased, but going through the process takes some time."
Loyd said construction is so backlogged, she's seen light towers set up at work sites for crews to continue building into the night.
Though construction is lagging, Loyd said the fast-paced economy is still enough to convince hotel companies to stake their claim in Odessa. In fact, most of the hotel companies are coming on their own volition, rather than the Chamber "recruiting" them in, Loyd said.
And only just a week into the New Year, Loyd said the Chamber has already closed a deal with a Dallas-based company for a hotel to be built on the corner of JBS Parkway and Trunk Street. Another hotel company is looking to build on the same corner, Loyd said.
"They're not deterred at this point," Loyd said.
The hotel boom isn't slowing down at opened hotels either.
"Anything to do with oil is helping us and, because of the economy being strong, a lot of people coming into the market to take advantage," Tejani said.
Tejani said his family has been in the Permian Basin hotel market since 1978 and owns two hotels in Midland and the Odessa Motor Inn since 2008.
Though vacancies are still difficult to come by at the last minute, Tejani said rooms are available on short notice depending on the day of the week.
Vacant rooms are most difficult to book on short notice from Monday through Wednesday, Tejani said. Weekends are easier to book but are still "hit and miss," Tejani said.
And rates are still sky high for "mid-priced" rooms.
Tejani said that at his Motor Inn, rooms range from $60 to $70. But rooms at mid-range hotels can be as much as $100 to $250 a night.
"We try to be as fair as we can. But our cost of doing business is going up all the time," Tejani said. "It's a supply-and-demand situation. People have to understand there were times we were giving away hotel rooms, and no one complained."
Expensive hotel rooms and high occupancy rates did impact the number of large groups visiting Odessa, said Linda Sweatt, director of the Odessa Chamber's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In 2012, nearly 48,000 delegates booked rooms in Odessa, compared to 63,000 delegates in 2011, Sweatt said. Delegates are overnight visitors that have been confirmed by the CVB.
Delegate counts do not include companies that rent out rooms for several months at a time, Sweatt said.
Around 321 groups booked overnight rooms by the end of 2012, compared to 381 groups in 2011, Sweatt said.
"We did lose a couple of sporting things that couldn't find housing and couldn't put up the cost," Sweatt said.
Sweatt said the CVB continues to secure rooms for incoming groups through 2015, but the CVB does have to find rooms at different hotels to ensure all group members can be accommodated in town.
"(High occupancy rates) are so good for our economy, we can't complain," Sweatt said. "It hampers us a little bit when we can't bring someone in, because that's what our job is. But we don't stop. Even though we're not booking that much, we're still booking a little and that little is good."
Contact Lyxan Toledanes on twitter @OAcitylife, on Facebook at OA Lyxan Toledanes, or call 432-333-7786.
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