The Hilton Garden Inn under construction at Fourth and Chestnut.
Mayor Greg Fischer
Hyatt Regency Louisville
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – There's a building boom in Louisville and it's not over yet. Around downtown, you're seeing new hotels springing up we just learned about the next to come: an Omni hotel on the old Louisville Water Company headquarters site. However, we're still behind our neighbors to the North and South at least when it comes to total rooms.
In Louisville, we have around 17,000. Indianapolis has about 33,000 and Nashville has more than 37,000. When you look at our rapidly expanding downtown hotels - with 4,800 in Louisville - while we're still behind Indianapolis, visitors will find more places to stay in downtown Louisville than downtown Nashville, which has 2,400 rooms.
The question is why?
We may have found a partial answer earlier this year, when we met Mark and Kristen. They made the trip all the way from Australia to travel Kentucky's Bourbon Trail.
"Kristen's a big fan of bourbon and I wanted to come to Kentucky, so yeah this would be a good place to visit," Mark explained.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says that's the driving reason for more hotels going up in downtown Louisville.
"We're getting a whole new type of tourist coming to town, people that are coming to visit the Bourbon Trail," said Fischer. "So they use Louisville as the trail head, they go out on the Bourbon Trail, they come back and visit one of our world renowned restaurants here, and they'll stay for two or three nights to do that."
A new Hilton Garden Inn will be the first to open its doors this spring: 162 rooms and eight stories at 4th and Chestnut streets. Eight stories and 175 rooms will welcome visitors when the Aloft hotel opens at 1st and Main next April. Add that to all the existing places already welcoming visitors and Fischer says we'll have a lot of people spending their nights in Louisville.
"I think we're quickly on our way to exceed a million visitors on the Bourbon Trail, so we're going to need a lot of capacity," Fischer said.
Mike Garcia, the Chief Financial Officer of Louisville's latest soon-to-be built hotel, the Omni with 600 rooms, says there's a lot more that makes downtown in the Derby City attractive.
"When we look at the YUM! Center, it's a huge attraction for us and it's going to drive hotel rooms," said Garcia. "The expansion of the convention center drives new hotel rooms."
By the way, with the new rooms Louisville will also have more downtown rooms than our up-river rival, Cincinnati. There are almost 2,700 there to our soon-to-be 4,600.
It's natural for those of us watching all of these buildings spring up to wonder: can we really fill those rooms? Garcia says that in areas where the Omni has recently built, Nashville and Dallas for example, the new rooms have actually driven up capacity.
Friday, July 25 2014 9:20 PM EDT2014-07-26 01:20:00 GMT
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