Bleak 2009 Shrinks Revenue for State's Biggest Hotels

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Mar. 8, 2010 12:00 am  

Ask someone who works in the hotel industry how 2009 went, and you might get an answer similar to Kurt Schatzl's assessment.

"We're just glad it's over," said Schatzl, general manager of Embassy Suites Hot Springs Hotel & Spa and treasurer of the Arkansas Lodging Association.

With a few exceptions, the top-selling hotels in the state were all down last year, according to city tax records. Twelve of the 35 top-selling hotels on the annual list in Arkansas Business were off by 15 percent or more.

(To see a list of the top hotels in the state, ranked by revenue in 2009, click here. A spreadsheet version is also available.)

Hotel demand for the first half of 2009 was good, but fell off significantly - perhaps as much as 25 percent - during the second half of the year, Schatzl said. Embassy Suites in Hot Springs was down about 10 percent last year, with revenue of $7.71 million, according to tax records.

Roger Davis, general manager of Holiday Inn Northwest Arkansas in Springdale, echoed Schatzl's assessment of 2009.

"Awful," he said.

Room revenue for Holiday Inn Northwest Arkansas last year was just less than $4.28 million, nearly flat compared with the previous year, a development Davis attributed to that hotel's meeting space.

"We're lucky that we have meeting space - over 50,000 square feet of meeting space. So we were able to generate additional room night revenue from the group meeting segment," he said.

Davis is also the area general manager for the Hampton Inn & Suites in Springdale and the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center at Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas in Rogers.

Part of the reason for a tough year in northwest Arkansas was that the area had been flooded with limited-service hotel rooms in recent years, he said.

"In northwest Arkansas, there were over 765,000 annual room nights opened in this market since the end of 2007. That's a significant amount of annual room nights to put in any market, never mind northwest Arkansas," Davis said.



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