Swelling market: Two new hotels could move Bricktown toward saturation

By Molly M. Fleming

The Journal Record

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – NewcrestImage CEO and Chairman Mehul Patel likes Bricktown. He likes it so much he’s adding another 276 hotel rooms to the area.

 

But that will be the last of his company’s presence in the area. NewcrestImage will have 400 rooms in Bricktown once two new projects are complete.

 

“I think (Bricktown is) getting to that saturation level,” he said. “People are building hotels just to build a hotel. We are building a hotel that has a purpose.”

 

The company owns the Holiday Inn Express, 101 E. Main St., which has 124 rooms but no meeting space. It will break ground Wednesday on a 134-room Hyatt Place at 20 Russell M. Perry Ave. and an AC Hotel at 411 E. Sheridan Ave.

 

The Hyatt will have 820 square feet of flexible meeting space, and AC will have a 1,200-square-foot conference room. ADG architecture firm designed the two new additions, as well as the Holiday Inn Express.

 

“We’re not just doing another hotel,” Patel said. “We’re doing a niche market with a lifestyle component.”

 

The AC has a bar and restaurant. Patel said it will appeal to the millennial-aged traveler. The Hyatt is more upscale, with a bar, a 24-hour fitness center and other amenities. Both hotels have a technology focus, with TVs that can connect via Bluetooth to a guest’s phone, he said.

 

Holiday Inn Express General Manager Brian Werkman said he is pleased he will be able to keep the guests who need to host meetings in the hotel family. The Holiday Inn works with local partners if a guest needs space.

 

“When we have that complex of hotels, it will help us service more needs in general,” Werkman said.

Patel said the AC Hotel, a Marriott brand, and the Hyatt Place each have a rewards program. The Holiday Inn Express does as well.

 

Rewards members seek out those rooms, which helps drive occupancy rates. Werkman said between the three programs, there are about 200 million members.

 

“We want to have something for everyone,” Werkman said.

 

When the two NewcrestImage hotels open in late 2017, the city’s central core will have about 2,800 rooms. Those rooms are found in Midtown, downtown, Bricktown, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Another 115 rooms will come online later this year at the Springhill Suites at Charlie Christian Avenue and E. Sheridan Avenue.

 

Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mike Carrier said the city area has seen an increase in its occupancy rate. As of April, the occupancy was at 73.5 percent, a 2.5-percent increase compared to the first four months in 2015.

 

He said the core-area room total could reach 5,000 units by 2020 if everything projected is completed, including a hotel with more than 500 rooms attached to the planned MAPS 3 convention center. The facility is expected to bring large events, with attendees filling the adjacent hotel, and other downtown hotel rooms.

 

But rooms on the east side may not get the convention center traffic. However, they’ll get guests who can’t find a room in a more central facility because of events, Carrier said.

 

“Having a large room supply downtown is not a bad thing,” he said. “There are certainly a lot of rooms being talked about downtown. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.”