Detroit might have filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in federal court last month, making it the largest city in the U.S. to seek shelter from economic crisis, but that hasn't soured hotel companies on planting their flags in the Motor City, nor has it deterred hotel owners from ploughing capital investments into their products.
This week, the landmark 1,329-room Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center announced it will begin a year-long, $30 million renovation project beginning in February 2014, which will result in the overhaul of its guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel's massive makeover is part of Marriott International's ongoing strategy to transform its namesake iconic brand, which dominates many urban markets, and reassert its position in the increasingly competitive group segment.
The news follows closely on the heels of the July opening of Crowne Plaza's first Detroit property, the 367-room Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Convention Center. Housed in the former Pontchartrain Hotel, which had been shuttered since 2009, the Crowne Plaza debuted following a $5 million renovation/rebranding and features 10,000 square feet of meeting space. The property stands directly across from the Cobo Center, itself halfway through a $279 million renovation.
And more hotel inventory is in the pipeline. The 136-room Aloft Detroit is on schedule to open in July 2014 in the former David Whitney Building; and a $23 million, 80-room boutique property is planned for the Detroit Fire Department's historic headquarters building. According to investors, that project should be completed by August 2015, just in time for attendees of ASAE's annual convention, which will take place in the city, to get a sneak peek.
The upward trajectory of Detroit's hotel landscape makes completes sense. According to Hendersonville, Tenn.-based Smith Travel Research, while average industry occupancy for the week of Aug. 11-17 hovered at 70.4 percent, Detroit enjoyed a healthy 75.2 percent rate, despite a decrease of 2.8 percent from the same period in 2012. And in the week before that, Detroit's hotels reported the largest occupancy and RevPAR gains in the industry, with an 11 percent rise in occupancy, to 78.6 percent, and a 21.7 percent increase in RevPAR. Cheers to you, Detroit!