To hear any industry pundit tell it, hotel
occupancy numbers have never looked so good at least not in this
century. This year’s Trends in the Hotel Industry report from San
Francisco-based PKF Consulting calculated a 67.5 percent national
occupancy average for 2004, with an expected hike to 69.4 by the
end of this year, a mere half percent beneath 2000’s
Even amid the much-touted turnaround, however, some of
America’s strongest cities continue to await their big rebound.
Whether because of staggeringly large hotel portfolios, still
fledgling downtown revitalizations or myriad other reasons, these
10 destinations remain hungry for your business and have
infrastructure and character enough to prove worthy of it. Best of
all, the price is right.
Average Daily Rate: $75.76
Why the low occupancy: Although Atlanta has the
country’s fourth largest convention center, this city has not
recovered from its early 21st-century slump the way its competitors
have. According to Paul Breslin, managing director of the Sheraton
Atlanta, the chief culprit is the city’s plenitude of rooms
approximately 93,000 blowing other hotel-heavy cities out of the
David McAuley, director of the Atlanta Convention &
Visitors Bureau’s Washington, D.C., office, notes a more nagging
problem. “Atlanta has all the infrastructure of a first-tier city,”
he says, “but people think it lacks the destination appeal of the
first tier. That’s about to change.” Indeed, occupancy rebounded
this year by five percentage points.
Why you should go: Atlanta’s downtown is
anchored by the Centennial Olympic Park, which is home to both the
revamped CNN World Center and the mammoth Georgia World Congress
Center. Just a stone’s throw away are 12,000 hotel rooms, including
a Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Omni and Westin with more than 1,000
guest rooms each.
Midtown just a quick MARTA train ride or a $7 cab ride north is
in full bloom, too. The shops, lounges and restaurants opening
along Peachtree Street are putting the buzz over the famously haute
Buckhead district to shame. Nonbelievers should check out
restaurants like the spicy, festive Mitra for proof.
What’s coming up: This November, the
much-anticipated Georgia Aquarium will touch down on Centennial
Olympic Park. With 110,000 fish and sea mammals in residence, the
facility promises to be the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
Butting up against the aquarium by 2007 will be the relocated and
revamped World of Coca-Cola museum.
In midtown, the 138-acre Atlantic Station, a “village” with
retail, entertainment, residential and professional components, is
expected to open phase one by October of this year.
Bonus points: For years, Hartsfield-Jackson
Atlanta International Airport has ranked as the world’s busiest. No
wonder, then, that airfare can be a steal. Once attendees have
landed, they can shuttle from the airport to their hotel rooms,
less than 12 miles away, for a mere $1.75. And with the generally
reasonable fees for attractions in this city, attendance at a
Braves game can cost as little as $15.