AUSTIN (KXAN) — Around this time next year, a brand new 11-story hotel will be getting ready to welcome visitors just steps away from UT Austin.
White Lodging announced one side of its dual-brand hotel will be called the Otis Hotel. The other side will be AC Hotel. Together, they’re adding nearly 350 new hotel rooms to an already booming tourism industry in Austin.
“We remain bullish on Austin as it remains one of the most sought after destinations in the United States and thrilled to be developing these two unique hotels adjacent to the world-class University of Texas and steps from downtown Austin,” said Deno Yiankes in a news release. Yiankes is President and CEO Investments and Development at White Lodging.
White Lodging said the new hotel will include a 7,000 square feet meeting space, a 3,480 square feet ballroom, and five smaller meeting rooms.
“We’ve seen a tremendous growth with our hotel population downtown,” said Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Noonan said Austin welcomed more than 27 million tourists last year.
“There are destinations across the country that have to incentivize builders to build hotels in their community,” he said. “Austin is a community where developers are coming in, and they’re making these deals themselves because they think it’s a good investment.”
Drew Scheberle with Austin’s Chamber of Commerce said we’re seeing a boom in short-term rentals as well because more people are visiting our city.
“We’ve become a big destination for all sorts of gatherings from political conventions to associations to international conferences,” he said.
According to the Downtown Austin Alliance, an average occupancy rate for downtown hotels is about 81 percent, and on average, those hotels cost about $218 per night.
It’s an expense many UT Austin students said, their families try to avoid whenever possible.
“The times they come visit me are pretty much when I’m moving in or I’m moving out,” said Valeria Lechuga, senior at UT Austin. “Most of my friends, they go home to visit their family or friends. Their parents barely come here, and if they do, it’s also a one day thing. They don’t stay the night and leave the next day.”
The demand for hotels from visitors isn’t slowing down though, at least for now.
White Lodging is working on a different hotel at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Trinity. They said that will be a 30-story, 615-room full service Marriott Hotel property schedule open in 2020.
“[The developers] are seeing this as a good time to build in Austin,” said Noonan.
He also added, however, “We’re not seeing this 10, 12 percent growth in hotel taxes we’ve seen in the last 5 or 7 years. We’re seeing growth, but it’s nowhere near the growth we’ve seen in the past. We’re starting to see it level off a little bit.”