Gilbert's new hotel mostly unfilled - East Valley Tribune: News

Gilbert's new hotel mostly unfilled

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Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2009 5:02 pm | Updated: 1:43 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

In one day, Gilbert nearly doubled the number of hotel rooms it offers.

Legacy Inn and Suites, at Power and Warner roads, opened its doors April 15, bringing 110 rooms to the town. The town's only other hotel, an InTown Suites at Guadalupe Road and Arizona Avenue, has 139 rooms.

That's roughly 250 rooms in a town of 218,000 that features a new regional hospital, a new shopping mall and a growing passenger airport nearby.

Still, visitors to the 58,000-square-foot hotel, which will host its grand opening April 30, were slow to come.

The hotel was only 10 to 20 percent occupied Thursday, said Ben Haught, an investor.

"It's been pretty minimal," he said.

Haught said that will change when the hotel begins advertising, but he also partly blamed the economy.

The Legacy Inn and Suites is not alone. The Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association says occupancy in the Valley was down 20 percent in March compared to March 2008.

"It's pretty significant," said Kristin Jarnagin, an association spokeswoman.

She mostly blames the negative press stemming from companies including AIG that received help through the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, then took out-of-state trips for company functions. Jarnagin said even companies that didn't get the funds are afraid of getting scrutinized and are opting out of planned company functions at hotels.

George Pettit, Gilbert's town manager, said Legacy Inn and Suites' is still new, and occupancy will grow as word-of-mouth spreads.

He said the hotel will greatly benefit from the Big League Dreams baseball park and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, which is seeing more passenger traffic and other airport business, he said.

"I can't imagine them not getting an increase in their bookings," Petit said.

Haught also has an interest in the planned Legado at SanTan Village at SanTan Village Parkway and Ray Road. That's across the street from the new Macy's department store.

He said the 121-room hotel, which will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, won approval from the town's Design Review Board and project officials are ready to break ground May 18.

The Legado will include a honeymoon suite, a bar and a salon. It will accompany a 19,000 square-foot convention center and ballroom called the SanTan Elegante.

Gilbert is in the midst ofhotel building boom across the East Valley. It has four others in various stages of progress - a Hyatt Place at Val Vista Drive and Pecos Road, a Hampton Inn next door, and a twin facility near SanTan Village mall consisting of a Marriott Courtyard and Marriott Residence.

Altogether, the projects are expected to add more than 600 rooms.

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