NOLA hotel activity moves from buying to building

Posted on: October 3 2014
By: Robin Shannon, Reporter CityBusiness

After a roughly two-year buying spree that saw hotel investors paying unprecedented prices in the New Orleans area, the focus has started to shift toward new development and improvements to existing properties.

But even with the surge in activity, the local market still trails the pace of other tourist destinations in adding new hotel rooms to its inventory.

A number of new projects are either in the planning stages or under construction, while owners of existing hotels are pumping millions of dollars into improvements and additions to their properties, all in an effort to capitalize on steady increases in occupancy, room rates and operating revenue across the city.

“There really hasn’t been a better time to put capital into assets,” said Adam Lair, a consultant for the hospitality industry research company HVS. “There are a lot of brands that want to be in the market, and many property owners are seeing a chance to spruce up an existing facility to attract a more high profile brand.”

Two projects that fit that mold are the $12 million conversion of the old Cotton Exchange Hotel in the Central Business District to an AC Hotel, and the ongoing $7 million renovation at the Ambassador Hotel to attract a new operator.

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