How about that Hotel Crunch, Austin?

Feb 28, 2013: The past week has brought a volley of hotel-related news stories from both property developers and disgruntled F1 tour operators. A perceived shortage of hotel rooms in downtown Austin for the 2013 Formula 1 race (scheduled for Nov. 15-17) has tour operators and visitors calling foul – and with rates at some hotels upwards of $800/night, or a 671% increase compared to the week after F1 – they can’t be blamed. However, the combination of a major college football game scheduled for the same weekend as F1, plus a tight supply and strong demand for hotel rooms has hoteliers padding the prices.

While this certainly is an issue in the short-term, there’s one more variable that will balance the market in the next few years: Austin is one of the US cities that is not only rebounding from the recession, but still makes top-10 lists for best cities to find a job, start a business, or relocate. That means that many new hotel projects have already broken ground or are moving forward with development. Austin currently has 7,000 hotel rooms downtown – but how do an extra 3,000 keys in the next few years sound?

Hotels proposed or in development | Downtown Austin


View Downtown Austin Hotels in Development in a larger map
 

IF all of the hotels in the “Downtown Austin Emerging Projects” map come to fruition, we’ll be looking at over 3,660 rooms added to the city’s inventory. There are 1,308 rooms to be had in the hotels that actually have broken ground (JW Marriott and the dying-to-just-open-already Hyatt Place) and 1,814 in the properties that have a positive outlook on breaking ground. The remainder go to projects that have been announced but are still working behind the scenes. And these aren’t just highway rest stops: two of the hotels (the top-class JW Marriott and the Fairmont) will have more rooms than any other hotel in Austin (1,000+), and the Fairmont will be the second-tallest building in the city (just after the Austonian, which is already the tallest residential building in the whole state – everything’s bigger in Texas).

So, weary travelers, until we have a few extra thousand rooms in downtown Austin, be clever about your lodging search. Compare prices on different websites (book.austinracehotels.com), seek rooms in surrounding towns,  consider a vacation rental (our new and improved rentals site will be up later this year), or find a local friend with an extra bedroom. If media hype says that there are no rooms left, do a bit of searching and find that there are rooms to be had for $200/night. But please, even if the situation looks dire, don’t sleep in our cemeteries.

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