Big things are afoot in Austin’s hospitality sector. Two luxury downtown hotels have been in the headlines recently: the Fairmont for its groundbreaking in November, and the J.W. Marriott for announcing its three signature restaurants in advance of its Feb. 13 opening. Those hotels will collectively add about 2,000 rooms to downtown Austin.
Sizable as the news is from those two hotels alone, the activity in Austin’s hotel scene doesn’t stop there. The number of hotels planned or under construction, many of them in Austin’s central business district, is exploding.
You don’t have to look far to see the evidence under construction. A new Westin Hotel at 5th Street and San Jacinto Boulevard is planned to open this summer, Hotel Van Zandt in the Rainey Street District is slated to open this spring, and Hotel ZaZa across from Republic Square Park is scheduled to open in 2016.
According to the Austin Business Journal, Austin is in the top 10 U.S. markets for new hotel construction, with more than 8,600 rooms planned in the metro area. That would be a 28 percent increase over the current 31,316 rooms.
Downtown, the room supply could grow by more than 55 percent in the next few years, the ABJ reported, from about 8,600 rooms to more than 13,000.
The ABJ quoted Bruce Ford, senior vice president and director of global business development for hospitality research company Lodging Econometrics, as saying the boom in hotel construction is linked to cycles of development that follow convention center expansions, as well as high average room rates.
Experts anticipate that more hotel rooms could mean more leeway for local companies to hold events and conventions in Austin. The ability to do so currently is limited by the run on hotel rooms during events like SXSW, Formula 1, X Games, and Austin City Limits Music Festival.