4 new Chandler hotels nearing completion - East Valley Tribune: News

4 new Chandler hotels nearing completion

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Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 4:01 pm | Updated: 3:14 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Four out of the 10 hotel projects pegged to nearly double Chandler's hotel room count within the next two years are under construction and scheduled to open within the next few months.

The Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield Inn are expected to open in fall, adding a combined 540 rooms to Chandler's 1,965 current count.

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All four of the future inns are clustered near Price and Pecos roads, where the Loop 101 and the southern leg of the Loop 202 intersect.

Six other hotels that were scheduled to start construction in 2009 are at least temporarily stalled, said James Smith, Chandler economic development specialist.

"I think they will all happen. We've always contemplated our rooms will double," Smith said. "But it's unlikely any will break ground this year."

Delayed but not dumped are the aloft, Cambria Suites, Staybridge Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Towne Place Suites and Candlewood Suites. Together, the six hotels would boost inventory by more than 700 rooms.

Two of those projects have made some progress.

The aloft is a trendy, urban boutique hotel brand that launched plans a couple of years ago for several Valley locations but completed only one - in Tempe. A second local version, near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, is under construction and slated to open Aug. 27.

Plans for the Chandler aloft are being redrawn, Smith said.

The Cambria, another new boutique hotel brand, is even further along. Cambria's business plan has been reviewed by the city, and developers could pull permits any time, he said.

Developers for the other four not-started hotel projects haven't come to the city with specific plans, Smith said.

It's not surprising that the four nearly completed Chandler hotels share similar characteristics.

A key feature is geography. They are minutes away from a busy freeway junction that provides convenient and quick access to just about anywhere in the Valley, Smith said.

And the new hotels are all limited-service properties. That is, they provide rooms but not the abundance of amenities offered by the full-service hotels and resorts, such as a variety of restaurants and bars with room service, lavish pools, other recreational features and plenty of meeting space for corporate groups.

But the limited-service hotels often provide different amenities that appeal to their target market of value-conscious vacationers and business travelers, who typically don't take advantage of a big hotel's vast recreational features anyway, said Kimberly Janes, Chandler's tourism development coordinator.

Limited-service hotels often provide such popular perks as free breakfasts and happy hour refreshments, she said, along with cheaper rates than the full-service hotels.

"They offer a lot of opportunities to stretch travel dollars," Janes said. Free breakfast, for example, is a real selling point in a recession, she said. "In harder times, it does help."

In fact, most of Chandler's existing hotels are limited-service brands, and the city is positioning itself as a value-focused destination for those headed to the Valley to play or work, she said.

The four new Chandler hotels debut in the midst of a massive national travel slowdown.

For the first five months of the year, U.S. hotel occupancy - the percentage of available rooms actually booked - was down 11.2 percent compared with the same period in 2008.

Adding to hoteliers' woes, the average daily room rate paid by guests was down 8.5 percent, for a combined impact of nearly 19 percent plummeting room revenue.

That's according to hospitality industry trackers Tennessee-based Smith Travel Research.

For local hotels, the news is even worse.

In May, revenue per available room slipped 28.6 percent in the Phoenix metro area, the third worst performance among 25 major U. S. destinations analyzed by Smith Travel.

Only New York and Chicago fared worse, according to the industry watchers.

"It's been a challenging year," Janes said.

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