|By Arlinda Smith Broady, Savannah Morning
News, Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 15, 2010--Adding to the slew of new hotels opening in the area in the past year, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Savannah Midtown recently came on line.
In the heart of the city near Armstrong Atlantic State University, St. Joseph's Hospital and Hunter Army Airfield, the 88-room brick facade hotel is just a few miles from the Historic District.
"Savannah is a strong market, but there are pockets that are underserved," said Clyde Harris, president of Harris Hotel Group, the company that manages the new hotel, and co-founder of American Hotel Development Partners, the hotel's owners. "We're constantly studying markets and find that this location is strong for leisure, corporate and military travel."
The former Holiday Inn across from the Oglethorpe Mall lost its franchise agreement, and the brand was looking for another property in that vicinity.
And even though the tourism industry is in a downturn, Harris is optimistic positive factors will outweigh the negative economy.
"Opening this property, particularly in the current challenging economic environment, is a testament to the power of persistence in the face of adversity," he said.
Judy Randall, president and CEO of Randall Travel Marketing, understands Harris' philosophy.
"It makes sense to be opening new properties in markets like Savannah because it's a good diverse destination," she said. "You've got strong business and leisure travel. It's a good meeting destination and great for quick getaways or long vacations."
Randall said few locations are experiencing Savannah's level of travel success.
"Right now Savannah's giving places like Atlanta and Charlotte a run for their money."
And that's a large part of the Hostess City's appeal for Harris.
"It fits into our plans for development," he said, adding that his group will open a Candelwood Suites hotel in Bluffton within two months.
"This area is ripe for increased tourism, and we're poised to be a part of it," Harris said.
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