Students Staying in Hotels To Make Finding Rooms Tough on Peak Weekends in Boone

Published Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 8:28 am

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By Jesse Wood

With the fall semester at Appalachian State University set to begin next week and with the construction of The Standard of Boone, a 561-bed, student housing development, behind schedule, several local hotels are serving as makeshift dorms for at least the next couple months.

Those hotels include La Quinta Inn & Suites, Sleep Inn, Courtyard Boone, Comfort Suites, Baymont Inn & Suites and Quality Inn & Suites University. For some hotels, students will make up a significant number of the hotel’s guests.

The displaced tenants, for example, from The Standard will occupy 40 percent of the rooms in the Sleep Inn and LaQuinta Inns and Suites, according to Justin Patel, owner of Panoramic Hospitality Inc., which operates those two hotels, among other holdings.

“We are booked completely on some of the busier weekends which is what will impact travelers to the area this fall. Booking ahead is critical,” Patel said. “The positive aspect is that this will also be a significant source of extra occupancy tax income for the town of Boone that can go towards future tourism projects to bring more people to the area.”

In July, the developers of The Standard of Boone, which is a joint venture between Landmark Properties, Harrison Street Real Estate Capital and Stonegate Developers, announced that it wouldn’t open in time for the fall semester. Move-in was slated for this weekend. But that won’t likely occur until at least October for most of the tenants.

Yesterday, Cody Nichelson, a spokesperson for the developer, mentioned that the move-in date for most of the tenants is still early October – as was announced a month ago.

Asked how many of the tenants are temporarily displaced, Nichelson said that The Standard is a 561-bed development and that 80 percent of tenants opted for temporary housing options provided by Landmark Properties and The Standard.

Students have the option of staying in a hotel room or elsewhere with a friend or family member. Both groups will receive different pro-rated amounts credited daily and a $250 gift card once its all said and done. This is more generous than what The Cottages of Boone developers offered its tenants in a similar predicament in 2013.

Nichelson said that the tenants will stay two to a room, paired with their suitemates and if their apartment at The Standard will have more than two bedrooms, the residents can choose which roommate they want to stay with at the hotel.

Like Patel mentioned, Wright Tilley, executive director of the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, which derives its revenue from a 6 percent occupancy tax levied on short-term lodging, noted that this issue will have both an upside and a downside.

Boone is a tourist town and will be busy during move-in weekend, leaf season, home football game weekends and, as one front desk associate at a local hotel, Emily Wentworth said, “any weekend” is pretty much busy.

(The 561 bedrooms in The Standard compares to about one-third of the hotel room inventory in the Boone area, but as Nichelson said, the tenants will double up in hotels until The Standard is complete.)

As Tilley said, “It will certainly have an impact on the availability of rooms for visitors and especially during peak football weekends and other special event weekends [like the Woolly Worm Festival and Valle Country Fair].”

Tilley noted that those who have to find a hotel room one county over, in say Wilkesboro or Lenoir, will likely end up getting their gas and eating food in Wilkes or Caldwell counties.

“We’ll lose out on some of that economic impact, but the upside, from the hoteliers stand point, is they have got guaranteed occupancy for a while that will certainly book midweek occupancy,” Tilley said. “It’s just going to inconvenience some of our visitor in terms of being able to find lodging in chain hotels during peak and special event times.”

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