Monday, September 3, 2007

More Hotel Rooms Needed?

Since the Southern Illinoisan made this a Poshard free holiday, my eye was caught by this piece in the local section of the paper on the lack of hotel rooms, or not, in Carbondale. According to the article, There are about 850 rooms in Carbondale and Murphysboro. The Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau would like about 300 more. I remember hearing about four years ago that state sports tournaments avoided the 'dale because, while we had great facilities for them to use, we didn't have enough places for them to stay. Since then, with the addition of the Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Conference Center and the Ramada, we've added 244 rooms, which is probably still not enough to support the needs of a statewide tournament.

However, we're not really enough of a business hub to justify 1150 rooms. In the article, Charlie Brown of Charlie B. Brown and Associates here in Carbondale says the Holiday Inn Conference Center, which his firm helped develop, hasn't met profit projections and probably won't for a couple of more years. Anecdotally, whenever I drive by any of the hotels in town, unless it's a weekend, there are only a scattering of cars in the lot. I counted 5 in the Hampton's lot as I drove by today. That's not enough to sustain a business. I assume the current hotels are doing well enough to stay in business now but what would adding 2 to 3 more hotels do to their profitability?

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We certainly were in need of more 'quality' hotels in town. Hopefully, the addition of the Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, and hopefully others, the flea bag motels in town will be driven out of business.
Agreed! Who would want to stay at the OLD Ramada on the west end of's commonly referred to the "Stabbin' Cabin", and the Motel that's next to the SIU Credit Union...scary indeed...
In a way, it's a shame though. I rather like the mom and pop motels as they usually have more character than the chains. I try to find them and stay at them when I'm traveling. Unfortunately, most of their business has gone to the chains so they attract the less desirable clientèle, which in turn drive more business travelers to the chains and so forth. It puts the mm and pop operation in a death spiral from which it's really hard to pull out.
I think more quality hotel rooms are needed in Carbondale, if the tourism director in Carbondale would really bring in business. Rather, she is constantly traveling and goofing off as far as I can tell. She also takes credit for events she has nothing to do with.
A real effort on the part of the director and her board would improve tourism in Jackson County more than more hotel rooms. With nearly 400,000.00 in annual funding I expect more. How about the rest of you?
I would rather support the mom and pop motels too, but the ones that are in Carbondale are run down, and have a high crime rate....would you want your family staying in the stabbin' cabin?

I wouldn't.
I was interested to see in the Illinois Main Street paper I picked up at the MS office that Mt. Vernon has around 1200 hotel rooms. Williamson County, according to its website, has about 1300 rooms total. It seems a bit ambitious for the CCTB to want 1150 rooms in a city without the access either of those areas has.
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