ARCHIVED  March 1, 1997

Hotel developments keep checking in

But industry observers fear too many rooms at the inns

They’re not exactly on every corner.But, as with the explosion of restaurants, banks, real-estate companies and other businesses locally, hotels are springing up in such numbers in Northern Colorado that their presence is being felt like never before.
Their names are familiar, including Hampton Inn, Sleep Inn, Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Country Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn and others.
And although many are pursuing distinct market niches, still they’re having an impact on existing facilities that must find ways to compete with the new arrivals.
“There are a lot of places to lay your head in this town,´ said Jim Duncan, director of sales and marketing for the Fort Collins Marriott Hotel at 350 E. Horsetooth Road.
The biggest impact of the new facilities is, of course, in the sheer number of rooms being built, Duncan said. But what many of the newcomers lack is amenities required by business travelers or conference attendees, namely meeting space, audio/visual equipment, restaurant and catering facilities, etc.
So Duncan has seen little impact on one of the 230-room Marriott’s advantages: its 16 meeting rooms, with capacity of 960. That’s helped maintain the weekday traffic, he said, although weekend business has been affected more.
“Everybody is probably considered equal in the weekend customer’s eyes,” he said, noting that weekend customers typically include families, vacationers or attendees at sporting events.
But Duncan sees many of the new hotels carving out their own niche, such as with extended-stay hotels. A 78-room Residence Inn is slated for Oakridge Drive near Lemay Avenue and Wheaton Drive, and a Ramada Limited Suites is planned for South Mason Street near Boardwalk Drive.
“We continue to see a need for those folks coming in for longer lengths of stay, be it for vacation or for training,” Duncan said. “I think that’s one niche that we’re trying to get in on the front end of.”
Other new hotels are fostering a geographic niche, including Hampton Inn, which opened two hotels recently in Loveland and Fort Collins. The Fort Collins facility lands business customers because of its location on Oakridge Drive, said Arne Andersen, general manager.
Business at the Fort Collins facility started out slow, however, after opening Halloween night last year.
“It was the scariest Halloween ever,” Andersen quipped. “It started off a little slow, but it’s been getting better.”
Andersen said business at his facility has been increasing by about 20 percent every month, with a definite emphasis on corporate customers, government employees and leisure business.
Many of the new hotel chains in town are indeed seeking to carve their own niches, he said.
“All the new ones that are coming in are going after a specific market share,” Andersen said, be it extended-stay, business, government, or a geographic market.
Hampton Inn also offers various discounts to lure specific market segments. For example, people 50 and over can have up to four people in a room and still pay the single-person price.
While Fort Collins is seeing significant hotel development, the same holds true for Greeley, where the Greeley Guest House, Sleep Inn and the Holiday Inn Express all have opened recently. Another hotel, the Country Inn & Suites, is under construction.
All that has proved somewhat frustrating to Steve Baldwin, owner/operator of the Ramada Inn in Greeley. Baldwin and his wife, Sue, purchased the old Camfield II hotel at 609 Eighth Ave. in November 1995. They converted it to a Ramada Inn last June.
All the hotel development in Greeley has helped keep the 100-room Ramada from reaching its occupancy goals, Baldwin said.
“It’s very tough,” Baldwin said.
He said many of the new hotels were built in response to a brief period during the Greeley Independence Stampede when hotels are full and demand is high. But that period of one or two months can’t support a hotel year-round, he said.
“It seems like overkill,” Baldwin added. “It seems like an overreaction.”
The new hotels, coupled with the fact that the Camfield had become run-down, kept the hotel from realizing its sales goals, Baldwin said.
“I didn’t come anywhere near my projections,” he said.
Add to the Ramada’s woes confusion between it and the more-established Best Western Ramkota Inn. Customers have been confused by the similar names from the beginning and remain so, Baldwin said.
That might be in the Ramada Inn’s favor, however.
“They’re the more-established hotel, so I guess if we can get a little bit of their business, that’s good,” he said.
While he has gained some business because of it, Baldwin suspects that the Ramkota has also reaped the benefits of his aggressive marketing campaign.
“I’m sure it goes both ways,” he said.
As for the new-hotel construction, Baldwin does see a positive side, namely that if Greeley boasts a lot of hotels, maybe “large groups will start thinking about Greeley for conferences.”
Although Greeley might be becoming saturated, one local hotelier thinks Fort Collins could stand to have one more hotel.
“What’s needed and what we’d like may not be the same thing,´ said the Marriott’s Duncan. He was referring to a 350-room convention hotel that would allow the city to lure more conventions, something that has not been supported by city officials.
He said he knows of “a lot of inquiries [from larger convention goers] that go unanswered.”
ÿ

But industry observers fear too many rooms at the inns

They’re not exactly on every corner.But, as with the explosion of restaurants, banks, real-estate companies and other businesses locally, hotels are springing up in such numbers in Northern Colorado that their presence is being felt like never before.
Their names are familiar, including Hampton Inn, Sleep Inn, Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Country Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn and others.
And although many are pursuing distinct market niches, still they’re having an impact on existing facilities that must find ways to compete with the new arrivals.
“There are…

Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood is editor and publisher of BizWest, a regional business journal covering Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties. Wood co-founded the Northern Colorado Business Report in 1995 and served as publisher of the Boulder County Business Report until the two publications were merged to form BizWest in 2014. From 1990 to 1995, Wood served as reporter and managing editor of the Denver Business Journal. He is a Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. He has won numerous awards from the Colorado Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Alliance of Area Business Publishers.
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