Broward County Poised for Biggest New Hotel Boom in Past Decade

/Broward County Poised for Biggest New Hotel Boom in Past Decade

Broward County Poised for Biggest New Hotel Boom in Past Decade

|2017-05-13T00:00:10-04:00May 13th, 2017|

May 13–A boom in new hotels suggests happy days are here again for tourism.

About a dozen hotels will open in Broward this year — the biggest surge in the county in the past decade.

The new accommodations will stretch from Pompano Beach to Hollywood, and increase the number of rooms by about 2,000 to more than 35,000.

It's "super-exciting," said Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitor Bureau, the county's official tourism marketer.

And it's is "due largely to an influx of affluent travelers and greater recognition of the destination as an attractive and competitively priced place to do business and enjoy the benefits of our appealing lifestyle and surroundings."

BULLETS

New hotels opened this year are the 130-room Home2 Suites by Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport-Cruise Port in Dania Beach, the 163-room Plunge Beach Hotel in Lauderdale by the Sea and the 407-room Hyde Resort & Residences in Hollywood. The Hyde Resort offers 367 resort units that can be rented as hotel rooms to the public when owners aren't staying there.

The 102-room Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach hotel is expected to open on May 26 for the Memorial Day weekend, developer Luckey's Management of Fort Lauderdale said. Luckey's 108-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Downtown Fort Lauderdale is slated to open in December.

In June, a 112-room Residence Inn featuring a newer design for the Marriott extended-stay brand will open in the Center Port Business Park in Pompano Beach as the first South Florida hotel for developer MCR Development of New York.

Dania alone could welcome four new hotels in 2017 if all open as planned. Others set to open along the U.S. 1 Federal Highway corridor are the 143-room Morrison Hotel, 104-room Comfort Suites Downtown Dania and 142-room Wyndham Garden hotel in the third and fourth quarters.

A former Sheraton in Dania on Griffin Road is undergoing a conversion and rebranding to Le Meridien, and is poised for a fall debut.

Two others, the 290-unit Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and 150-room Tryp by Wyndham Maritime Fort Lauderdale are also in the mix.

Thousands more new hotel rooms are in various stages of the development pipeline, some with targeted openings in 2018 and beyond. There is also competition to the south in Miami-Dade County, where industry analysts note that 19 hotels are scheduled to open this year. Palm Beach County is adding one.

The county is in the midst of unprecedented economic development, with nearly 5,000 hotel rooms overall being added to the inventory over the next two years, according to the bureau.

That growth, Ritter said, is "due largely to an influx of affluent travelers and greater recognition of the destination as an attractive and competitively priced place to do business and enjoy the benefits of our appealing lifestyle and surroundings."

Still, the surge in rooms raises the specter of a decline in room rates, so "that's the downside of it but there's more positive to it than negative," she said.

Preliminary visitation numbers released by the bureau show Broward welcomed 12.27 million domestic visitors in 2016, up 4 percent from 2015. A million international travelers visited last year, excluding Canadians. While final statistics won't be released until the third quarter, data from state tourism agency Visit Florida, which tracks visits from Canada, point to more than 600,000 Canadians visiting Broward by plane in 2016, the bureau said.

Industry analysts and hoteliers seem fairly confident the county can easily absorb the room surge. But some areas may fare better than others.

"Most of the new supply of rooms is not on the beach. The beach will fill up first, so Fort Lauderdale will be fine," said Christian Charre, senior vice president, CBRE Hotels, based in Miami. "For limited service hotels on the outskirts, the situation may be more competitive … still travel is up, and the expansion at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is working so 1,800-plus more rooms is not major. I think it should be easily absorbed."

So far this year, Broward's first-quarter tourist arrivals are about even with 2016, but room rates and occupancy in traditional hotels are down, Ritter noted.

As other new hotels opened in recent years, the additional rooms did place stress on the industry's performance as currency and economic woes in source markets like Canada and Brazil helped to keep some would-be visitors at home.

And as non-traditional accommodation alternatives such as Airbnb and HomeAway become increasingly popular with travelers, traditional hotel occupancy has taken a hit.

New hotels opened this year are the 130-room Home2 Suites by Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport-Cruise Port in Dania Beach, the 163-room Plunge Beach Hotel in Lauderdale by the Sea and the 407-room Hyde Resort & Residences in Hollywood. The Hyde Resort offers 367 resort units that can be rented as hotel rooms to the public when owners aren't staying there.

The 102-room Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach hotel is expected to open on May 26 for the Memorial Day weekend, developer Luckey's Management of Fort Lauderdale said. Luckey's 108-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Downtown Fort Lauderdale is slated to open in December.

In June, a 112-room Residence Inn featuring a newer design for the Marriott extended-stay brand will open in the Center Port Business Park in Pompano Beach as the first South Florida hotel for developer MCR Development of New York.

Dania alone could welcome four new hotels in 2017 if all open as planned. Others set to open along the U.S. 1 Federal Highway corridor are the 143-room Morrison Hotel, 104-room Comfort Suites Downtown Dania and 142-room Wyndham Garden hotel in the third and fourth quarters.

A former Sheraton in Dania on Griffin Road is undergoing a conversion and rebranding to Le Meridien, and is poised for a fall debut.

Two others, the 290-unit Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and 150-room Tryp by Wyndham Maritime Fort Lauderdale are also in the mix.

The hotels are coming on line as Broward becomes a more powerful and attractive market, said Daniel Peek, senior managing director at HFF.

"Miami has become more expensive, busy and crowded, while Fort Lauderdale offers a different experience," Peek noted.

Fort Lauderdale has seen dramatic changes in 20 years in terms of investments on the beach, the cruise port and airport and in retail, all of which bodes well for future tourism demand, he added.

"I anticipate that over the next 10-20 years, Fort Lauderdale will continue to be a very attractive market," Peek said. "It's a pretty dynamic market, generally speaking."

For Luckey's, Pompano is a new market and has more room to grow in terms of hotel development and tourism, said Jay Patel, president and CEO. Luckey's currently has seven other hotels in Broward and recently broke ground on its ninth, a Springhill Suites by Marriott, set to open in Miramar in 2018.

Downtown Fort Lauderdale however is becoming more saturated with new hotels announced since the Fairfield Inn broke ground, Patel said. But new activity in residential and retail development should woo more visitors to the area.

"South Florida is still doing great," in terms of tourism, said Patel, pointing to expanded airline service, a strong cruise market and the soon-to-launch Brightline passenger express train service.

Analysts seem to agree.

The new south runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport enabled the airport to accommodate more flights, said Alexandra Lalos, associate director in HFF's hotel group.

Lalos said office space demand is also high in Fort Lauderdale and other county corporate centers. And as the county's appeal rises as a tech center, more business travelers are likely to visit.

Dilip Patel, president of Tanjali Investments, developer of the new Comfort Suites in Dania, said he expects the market to "soften a little bit" in terms of visitor demand given the increased choices and worldwide geopolitical events that could impact travel.

Dania, however, is still one of the prime markets in South Florida to have a hotel business and the Comfort Suites will be the closest hotel to the airport, Patel said.

New entrants like MCR Development remain enthusiastic about its South Florida debut.

"We're excited about this market," said Chad Newman, regional director, noting that its new Pompano Residence Inn is in a prime location to attract business and leisure travelers. Located near a Tri Rail/Amtrak station, it is within easy reach of Interstate 95.

"We think we'll offer more in terms of accessibility," said Newman, comparing it with another Residence Inn along the beachfront. "And we'll offer a more attractive rate than [hotels] on the waterfront."

Other hoteliers like Doug Barrow, general manager at the newly-opened Plunge Beach Hotel, also aren't too worried about the influx of new rooms, having experienced rapid absorption of even more rooms in other top Florida tourism destinations such as Orlando.

"This area has such a strong demand from leisure travelers all over the world and so I think there's still plenty of room for growth in hotels [in these parts]."

Ritter is optimistic about the summer so far.

"We're going to be better than OK. Americans will travel more domestically than in summers past. So I think summer looks good in terms of visitor numbers," she said.

A recent U.S. State Department alert advising Americans of the potential dangers of travel to Europe following terrorist incidents could deter them from taking overseas trips and boost domestic travel. On the flipside, the warning could discourage international visitors from coming to the U.S., Ritter said. Already, the restrictions on select Muslim-majority countries have caused airlines like Emirates, which flies from Fort Lauderdale to Dubai, to reduce service.

"In 2017 the domestic market has become more important now than it was this time last year," Ritter said. So that's where the bureau will focus its marketing push, while still keeping key international markets in play.

asatchell@sun-sentinel.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport

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