Hotel occupancy high first weekend of Jazz Fest

April 27 2012 | Latest News
Some hotel rates up over 200% for first weekend of Jazz Fest

Updated: Apr 26, 2012 3:54 PM CDT

Written by: Rob Masson Fox 8 Live News

New Orleans, La. - The first weekend of Jazz Fest is upon us, and in spite of hundreds of new hotel rooms, there aren't enough to go around.

Some websites are reporting room rates being collected at some properties are 200 percent above normal.

The day before the festival begins, visitors are already beginning to fill city streets.

But when you talk to some, it's a bit of sticker shock when it comes to the rates being paid.

The website screams out, "New Orleans Jazz Fest goers can expect to pay up to 215% for a hotel room."

But the tourism industry says it's all a function of demand.

Mavis Early with the Hotel Motel Association says hotel occupancy is projected at 98 percent Friday and Saturday, about 80 percent Sunday.

While the increased rates are a problem for some, others aren't worried.

"We thought it was very inexpensive coming from Australia," says Tourist Mattie Mckernon.

The news of high prices and high demand is especially good for hoteliers.

Cullen Stackpole with the Hilton Garden Inn says, "Business is fantastic. First quarter was a 'rock star.'

The owner of the website says rate surges like these are not unheard of and are usually associated with mega events like the one held in Indiana earlier this year.

Higher rates and occupancies are especially good news for a tourist industry which recently added 1200 rooms with the re-opening of the Hyatt hotel.

"I could use a whole new hotel, about 286 rooms. We're turning away people left and right," said Stackpole.

His hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, recently finished a major renovation, and across town, other hotels are spending about $400 million to modernize.

"It's a sign of confidence in the future of our industry," says Early.

The new Indigo hotel is being built on St. Charles Avenue and more could be on the way.

For now, the people FOX 8 talked with love the city and don't seem to mind higher rates.

Australian tourist Di Cruckshank said, "We have had one heck of a time, we've loved every minute."

It's music to the ears of a tourism industry on the mend

Many hoteliers tell us they are sending overflow to the northshore or Baton Rouge.

While room demand is around 98 percent this weekend, it's a little slower for the second weekend of Jazzfest. But depending on the weather, most available rooms are expected to fill up.