Acrobats flipped between two poles and over a cozy Hyatt Place hotel bed Thursday as Gilbert ushered in a new but long-awaited era - of having hotels.
Town officials gathered with representatives of Hyatt Corp. and Woodbine Southwest to break ground on the town's second hotel, a specialized Hyatt Place hotel co-owned by the companies that will cater to business travelers. Eight more hotels are in various planning and proposal stages in Gilbert.
The six-story, 127-room Hyatt Place hotel is anticipated to open as early as February 2009 at Val Vista Drive and the Santan Freeway stretch of Loop 202, in the vicinity of the Santan Autoplex, Mercy Gilbert Medical Center and the planned Main Street Commons high-end mall complex.
At six stories, Hyatt Place's height will match the town's current two tallest structures, the nearby Rome Towers and Banner Gateway Medical Center.
Planned adjacent to the Hyatt Place and also nearing final approval from the town is a four-story Hampton Inn with 99 rooms. "This is the vision that's been talked about for six, seven, eight years. The great news for everybody is enough people are committed to this vision that it's coming true - no excuses, no compromises," Town Manager George Pettit said.
Unfortunately, he added, it's not coming soon enough for Gilbert to reap the benefits of an estimated 6,000 hotel nights that the Big League Dreams ballpark is expected to bring in this year as it draws tournaments.
But the town sits on the verge of finally being able to collect more on a 3 percent bed tax that has collected only on the town's lone current hotel, an extended stay hotel at Guadalupe Road and Country Club Drive. "This week I was approached by folks who wanted to put on the world's largest baseball tournament," an event that could draw as many as 15,000 visitors to Gilbert and its Big League Dreams park for three to four days, Mayor Steve Berman said. "They told me, 'You won't believe what this will do for your economy.' " But for now, Mesa is benefiting because of its hotels, he said.
Developers are talking to the town about plans to build two hotels near Gilbert and Germann roads, three hotels near Higley and Baseline roads including the four-story Staybridge Suites with a planned 109 rooms, and one at the northeast corner of Power Road and Loop 202.