Six hotels are coming to Shenandoah in the next few years, bringing the city’s total to 15, officials said.
Cambria Hotel & Suites by Choice Hotels, Aloft Hotel by Starwood Hotels, Even Hotel by IHG and Hampton Inn by Hilton have all received entitlements or have been issued a permit to build in Shenandoah, City Administrator Greg Smith said.
In addition, a Home2 Suites by Hilton is under construction and an Elements hotel by Westin is under consideration after company officials gave a presentation to the Planning and Zoning Committee on Sept. 20.
“Hotel growth has been something Shenandoah has welcomed from the beginning,” Smith said. “[The hotels] are getting entitlements now to get ready for the future. Over the next few years, when the oil and gas industry hopefully recovers, I think there will be an increased demand that proves that these hotels needed to be built.”
Shenandoah added its ninth hotel with the opening of a Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in May.
“Obviously new competition is always a concern for us, but as far as being worried about it—we’re not,” Holiday Inn General Manager Randy Rolland said. “Competition is what makes the market healthy and strong.”
To reflect this expectation of hospitality growth, the Shenandoah City Council adopted its fiscal year 2016-17 budget in late August, which included proposed hotel tax collections of $1,410,700, an increase from last year’s proposed hotel tax collections of $1,279,165.
“[Hotel occupancy taxes, sales tax and the employment rate] will all go up,” Smith said. “As you build new buildings and more visitors come, they’ll have to create new jobs. [The new hotels] will create a positive increase in new jobs both directly and indirectly because with the new hotels, all of the visitors will be shopping and visiting the restaurants, which could have an indirect effect of increased staffing at those businesses.”
“Hotel growth has been something Shenandoah has welcomed from the beginning."
—Greg Smith, city administrator
The Home2 Suites will open by March in time for the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championship, hosted by Shenandoah. The new hotels will be an added bonus, Smith said, for the city as it strives to become the first NCAA Division III championship city in the U.S.
“The first year we had NCAA, we had teams that were staying in Conroe all the way down to [FM] 1960, and I even heard that there were some in Tomball—that’s really far,” Smith said. “When we hosted the second one, we had more of the teams staying closer to us, but we still had teams staying in Conroe and south of the city. With this increase in hotels, if we get more of the NCAA championships in the city, we will be able to manage their hotel needs within the city and give the teams more options.”
Smith said not only will the additional hotels have a positive effect on the economy and NCAA accommodations, but they may also help the city build its long-awaited special events center.
“This is the funding source that could allow us to build a special events center,” Smith said. “We have legislation that will be going to Austin and the Capitol [in 2016] at the next legislative session, and the funding for that center will come from the hotel/motel tax. The special events center will hopefully generate more hotel stays, which generates more hotels. So it’s just a complete circle on how the money is received, spent and used.”
Smith also said Sam Moon Group, which is developing Metropark Square on the east side of I-45, has also discussed the idea of including two hotels upon completion, although nothing is set in stone.
“We always like to say that we have a variety of hotels to fit every budget and lifestyle,” Finance and Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Jennifer Calvert said. “We’re very proud of the city, and we always want people to love it as much as we do so the more visitors that come, the more opportunity we have to showcase the city and what we’re about.”