Bricktown is about to gain its first full-service hotel with a hop of the Renaissance flag one block east from where it has been planted for the past 19 years.
Tulsa hotelier Andy Patel is preparing to start construction later this year on the 10-story, 182-room Renaissance Hotel on a surface parking lot at the southeast corner of Sheridan and Oklahoma Avenues. Patel bought the property for $2 million in 2014 and initially sought to build a nine-story Canopy by Hilton, a new select-service brand.
The brand, however, was claimed instead by hotelier Champ Patel, who is to start construction on his property in east Bricktown later this year.
“It is much more a luxury hotel brand now,” said Andy Patel (unrelated to Champ Patel). “Renaissance is changing direction from being convention-style properties to a luxury lifestyle hotel. I don't think we have anything like what this will be in Oklahoma. It caters to corporate travel. It's a full-service hotel with an upscale bar and restaurant.”
Patel also plans to start construction “very soon” on a 133-room Fairfield Inn and Suites at SW 5 and E.K. Gaylord, immediately east of a $283 million convention center being built as part of MAPS 3. The new Renaissance hotel, meanwhile, will open along a 2.3-mile streetcar loop that is to start operations in late 2018.
The new Renaissance hotel also is immediately east of a surface parking lot that may be developed by Don Karchmer and Jim Tolbert into a parking garage. Plans for the garage have changed from eight to six stories, and no construction schedule is set for the project.
The new Renaissance hotel is among 23 hotels either built, being built or under design in the historic entertainment district. The number of limited-service brands has generated concern from Mike Carrier, president of the city's convention and visitors' bureau, and on Wednesday he welcomed the addition of a full-service brand.
Full service hotels include restaurants, bars, meeting space and room service — amenities not typically provided in limited service hotels.
Downtown is home to five full-service hotels.
“A lot of the national information we see with reports on trends is that the hotel segment that has the highest unmet demand in the industry is the full-service segment,” Carrier said. “It's the segment that has had the least amount of construction the last several years. Business travelers in general are still looking for full-service properties.”
Carrier said the downtown hotel market, despite recent rapid growth, continues to outpace all other areas of the city.
“When you look at the dispersion of hotels across the city, downtown was underserved by the hotel market,” Carrier said. “Once the Skirvin hit the market with such success, it was a sign to other hoteliers to want to be downtown. Look at the majority of corporate business — it's downtown.”
Carrier added that downtown, which only had one hotel in the mid-1990s, has become a key draw for tourists.
“Leisure travelers are very interested in being somewhere they can walk to with activities,” Carrier said. “Downtown, you have the boathouse district, Bricktown, the resurgence of the central core, the gardens, the art museum and Automobile Alley.”
Patel, meanwhile, hopes to draw 50 percent of visitors who stay at the current Renaissance Hotel once the flag is relocated (representatives from the hotel did not return phone calls on Wednesday). Patel believes the worst of the energy downturn that hit the city over the past two years is over.
“I'm very optimistic the economy is coming back,” Patel said. “Oklahoma City also doesn't rely only on oil anymore. It's diversified. And travelers are making downtown their first choice on where to stay.”