3 new Shenandoah hotels in 2021 set to bring regional total to 26

After continued development throughout 2020, three new hotels in Shenandoah have opened or will be opening in the coming months despite a recent drop in tourism.

Once they open, Shenandoah will have 12 hotels across its city limits of 2.2 square miles.

The newest hotel additions include an Aloft Hotel that opened Jan. 5 as well as a Hyatt House and an Even Hotel, both of which are anticipated to open by the end of April.

John Mayner, director of Shenandoah Convention & Visitors Bureau, said development on each of the properties began before the pandemic, and the resulting drop in travel activity during that time was a concern. However, he said each of the hotels has something unique to offer the area.

“The interesting thing about these properties is that they are all upscale brands,” Mayner said. “They are new and different for our area. I think in the near term, it is not ideal for a great time to open, but we have a lot of positivity to look forward to with the vaccine rollout taking place.”


However, Mayner said he does not expect travel to increase until the summer at the earliest.

Hospitality optimism, concerns

Tim Gault, the general manager of the incoming Hyatt House Hotel, said he has no concerns regarding opening during the pandemic, and the construction of the property at Metropark Square has largely kept to its timeline.

“We believe our project will accommodate any kind of guest, whether it is an extended stay for two or three weeks or if it is a more leisurely coming in for the weekend,” Gault said.

Mayner said efforts have been made by the SCVB to promote the hotels’ health and safety procedures and policies, as well as working on a comprehensive plan to continue assisting local businesses during the traditional seasonal downtime.

“We have an interesting mix of our hotels here,” Mayner said. “They serve what we call a lot of transient business. One of the biggest differences between us and perhaps The Woodlands is that they have a lot more focus on convention and meeting business than we do.”

Mayner said rather than trying to host larger events and conferences, his strategy has been to highlight smaller meetings, as currently the city has one hotel with 5,000 square feet of meeting space and several properties with smaller spaces and board rooms.

However, the city saw a drop in hotel occupancy tax collections, which help fund the SCVB, in 2020.

According to an annual SCVB report, the amount of revenue collected in fiscal year 2019-20 was $860,843, a 41.83% decrease from the previous year, when it collected $1.48 million.

Prior to FY 2019-20, hotel occupancy tax revenue had been increasing each year through FY 2017-18, according to the SCVB financial report. Mayner wrote in the report that while hotel occupancy increased into the fall, continued recovery is dependent on public perceptions of travel safety.

“Most industry analysts are recognizing that it might well be until 2023 until we see a return to pre-COVID[-19] levels nationally, and due to the contraction in our area’s oil and gas sector, economic recovery in the Houston area could take even longer,” Mayner wrote in the report.

Regional demand

The SCVB report stated the effect of the additional room supply from the three new hotels could stress the market as properties try to maintain occupancy levels.

“We are already seeing Woodlands hotels dropping rates and going after lower revenue business they would not have considered a year ago,” Mayner wrote in the report.

In The Woodlands, Nick Wolda, president of the local CVB Visit The Woodlands, said it hopes to scale back up to attracting major trade shows as part of the 2021 recovery plan.

The Woodlands’ largest event, Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas, was canceled last year but is scheduled for April this year.

Kevin Viteri, a Visit The Woodlands board member, said at a Jan. 12 VTW meeting the hotel has seen some bookings but not on the scale of the larger events it typically hosts.

Viteri is also the general manager for the Embassy Suites by Hilton The Woodlands at Hughes Landing,

“We are getting a good amount of short-term meetings,” he said. Viteri said the hotel is getting some 2022 bookings, which he said is a good sign.

Vanessa Holt contributed to this report.
By Andrew Christman
Andrew joined Community Impact Newspaper in early 2019 after moving from Indiana. He is a 2015 graduate from Indiana State University, where he received degrees in English and journalism. He has written for a number of small town publications throughout his career as a reporter.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


MOST RECENT

Imperio Wine & Spirits sells a variety of liquor, beer, wine and spirits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Imperio Wine & Spirits opens in Katy; Montgomery Chick-fil-A to open dining room and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

In addition to constructing a new 43-acre campus, Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 will be buying a fleet of 40 new ambulances and hiring 150 new staff. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Executive director gives preview of ESD 11 Mobile Health Services

In addition to constructing a new 43-acre campus, Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 will be buying a fleet of 40 new ambulances and hiring 150 new staff.

See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year

While some school districts in the Greater Houston area are doing away with face mask requirements and virtual schooling completely, others are pivoting to continue offering online learning options for students and plan to require face masks.

masks
CDC ends all mask requirements for fully vaccinated people

The guidance states fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

Shenandoah is set to receive around $650,000 in federal aid in June. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Shenandoah City Council discusses $650,000 in federal aid

The city anticipates to receive the funding by the end of June from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Single-family home sales were up 47.4% compared to last April with 9,105 units sold versus 6,175 a year earlier. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
HAR: Houston-area home sales in April up 47% compared to last year

Single-family home sales were up 47.4% compared to April 2020.

House Bill 1024, signed into law May 12, allows restaurants and bars to permanently sell alcoholic beverages to-go. (Courtesy Pexels)
Cocktails to-go are here to stay in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott signs change into law May 12

Supporters say the change will help restaurants continue to recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

(Courtesy The Howard Hughes Corp.)
Back Table Kitchen and Bar announced for The Woodlands Resort in June

The new restaurant and bar seeks to bring coastal flair and Southern flavors to The Woodlands Resort.

New details could emerge soon on the potential use of underground tunnels to carry flood water in Harris County, and officials voted May 11 to dedicate an additional $3.26 million to study efforts along Buffalo Bayou. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
County commissioners expand scope of flood tunnel study as next phase nears completion

New details could emerge soon on the potential use of underground tunnels to carry flood water in Harris County, and officials voted May 11 to dedicate an additional $3.26 million to study efforts along Buffalo Bayou.

Residents will have until May 2023 to obtain a Real ID. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
US Department of Homeland Security extends Real ID deadline until 2023

Drivers will have until May 2023 to get the Real ID, which will be required for adults boarding a U.S. commercial flight.

Construction on a three-story medical office building is underway at 3786 FM 1488, Conroe, following an April 22 groundbreaking, the development company, Egrets Group, announced in a May 10 release. (Courtesy Egrets Group)
3-story medical office building breaks ground on FM 1488

Construction is anticipated to take a year to complete for the medical office building.