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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | October 23, 2015

According to Forbes magazine, Austin holds the number two spot this year for the fastest growing U.S. city. In fact, the city has been in the top three for the past four years. Much of that growth is being fueled by its flourishing technology community. For example, this past September San Francisco-based Quantcast, which specializes in digital advertising, announced it was expanding and had chosen Austin after vetting several cities. "Looking at cities that offer a bounty of high-tech talent and vibrant  growth opportunities, Austin was the obvious choice," said Rick Boyce, head of corporate sales for Quantcast.

fairmontWithin the past five years, a tide of new hotel development has swept in to meet the increased demand for rooms. In 2014, Austin added 3,200 guest rooms and more than 140,000 square feet of meeting and event space. This year, six new hotels were added to the city's skyline, further fueling the hotel boom. Among them were the 1,012-room JW Marriott with 112,000 square feet of meeting space opened this past March; the 366-room Westin Austin Downtown with 19,000 square feet of meeting space, and the 322-room Hotel Van Zandt with 12,000 square feet of space. More debuts are on the way. A 133-room Hotel Indigo is scheduled to open in February 2016, and the $370 million, 1,035-room Fairmont Austin, with 106,500 square feet of meeting space, is scheduled to open in Fall 2016. In summer 2017, the 278-room Aloft Austin Downtown and 144-room Element Austin Downtown are both scheduled to open.

Philadelphia, where hotel development has been stagnating since it hosted the 2000 Republican National Convention, is enjoying a spate of new hotel growth, too. That's good news for the city's Pennsylvania Convention Center, which last year lost several large conventions over its battles with the unions (now settled). Now, many of those groups have signed contracts to return. Eight new hotel projects now underway will add 2,000 now hotel rooms to the City of Brotherly Love, a boost of roughly 20 percent. Considering that the New York Times and Condé Nast Traveler recently named Philadelphia one of the top U.S. travel destinations and the world's number two shopping city, the city can expect to gain even more visitors.

Currently under renovation, with a January 2016 opening date, is the 391-room The Logan, in the former Four Seasons hotel, which will feature a farm-to-table restaurant. The new 222-room Four Seasons, with 7,000 square feet of meeting space, will occupy the top 12 floors of Comcast's new $1.2 billion, 59-story tower, due for completion in 2017. Also opening in 2017 is the 152-room boutique hotel, SLS LUX Philadelphia, designed by Philippe Stark. And, just  behind the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, two Starwood brands will be part of a dual-branded, $280 million project, the 295-room W Hotel Philadelphia and the 460-room Element Philadelphia. A 178-room Aloft is being built right next to the Pennsylvania Convention Center.