CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Could Hutchinson Island use another luxury hotel?
Thousands of people cross the river for dozens of shows, conventions and meetings held every year, but what if they didn't have to?
Keep in mind, we are in the very early stages. The Trade Center Authority simply has announced they are looking for developers interested in a convention oriented hotel. The decision was made because of a need, and if that need is met, it could benefit everyone.
"Event coordinators indicate they want their attendees closer to the convention center," said Savannah Int'l Trade and Convention Center General Manager Sherrie Spinks.
It feels as if every weekend there is some sort of event, convention or meeting going on right across the river.
"We have determined through a various number of studies that in order to attract more shows and conventions to the city we need a minimum of at least 300 more rooms on the island," said Spinks. "Many planners have indicated to us that the best opportunity to get more events on the island is to add additional hotel capacity."
Now, the only hotel on Hutchinson is the Westin, which has a little over 400 rooms. It serves as a great location for guests, but officials still say there is a need for more rooms.
"We have a great partner in the Westin but we still need more rooms next to the convention and trade center," said Spinks.
In some cases, Savannah has been passed on because event organizers say there were simply not enough rooms close enough to the event venue.
"In other cities like Charlotte, Jacksonville, or Atlanta they can do everything under one roof. Exploring the prospect of having another hotel over there gives us the opportunity to have more rooms, technically under one roof," said Visit Savannah President Joe Maranelli. "You look at Savannah's package and you have one hotel and the rest on this side of the river."
The idea is to offer the package with the convention center as the venue and the ability to house everyone within walking distance.
This does not mean a hotel will be popping up next year.
"I think the market has to tell us if there is a need for a hotel or not and that is what we are going through right now," said Maranelli.
"We go through the RFQ process and determine the potential developers and once we receive those, we will evaluate those that could possibly go to the next phase," said Spinks.
If more events are held, and more people come to the city, that means a stronger economy and more jobs.
WTOC has been trying since 9 a.m. to reach out to the Westin to get some sort of reaction, whether they support this, whether they don't, or whether they are neutral. We have still not heard back after numerous calls.
If a hotel is placed here it would be privately funded.