A story came out in The Sun today regarding the lack of financial success at the new Hilton hotel adjacent to the Convention Center and Camden Yards. Obviously the state of the economy has a great deal to do with current nature of the hotel industry throughout the country, but I can’t help but think of what planning and strategy was discussed for numerous new hotel projects in Baltimore.
Another story that surfaced this week indicated that the new Hotel Monaco, which hasn’t even been open a month yet, might have to go to auction for failure to pay vendors that worked on the construction of the hotel. I don’t have the details as to when this project was first commissioned or when the construction commenced, but even in our struggling economy, what does it say about this project that they can’t even stay open one full month before the project’s weak finances are exposed.
I know Baltimore has undergone many changes and updates the past few years in an attempt to bring a bit of higher class into a city most still consider to be blue-collar, but I wouldn’t think a hugely expensive luxury hotel has the kind of demand necessary to sustain consistent occupancy. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall as this project was pitched to the financiers who ultimately put up millions of dollars to complete it.
Baltimore certainly has many popular tourist destinations and the city has worked very hard to bring new people here, but the sudden boom in hotels around downtown seems unwarranted. I can only imagine what the backers of the new Four Seasons in Harbor East are thinking as they read two stories in one week about the difficulties of Baltimore’s two newest sizable hotels.
The Four Seasons project, at the time of its ground breaking, was intended to be the tallest building in Baltimore upon compeltion. With floors of hotels, as well as condos, the building would be similar in style to the new Legg Mason office building that sits next door. As the economy began to suffer, the announcement was made that multiple floors were being cut from the building and, although it would remain the tallest building when it opened, many available units were being cut from both the hotel and condominium sections.
It’s nice to see such ambition and faith in Baltimore as a tourist destination, but there is definitely a danger that the city over-expanded it’s hotel availability. Even with an increased effort toward tourism in the city as well as an influx of conventions, summer weekends populated by Yankees and Red Sox fans (I want to shoot myself after writing that), Preakness, and other large events it seems there is an over abundance of hotels, particularly more high end luxury hotels, popping up in city. It would be great for the city to draw enough people to keep these hotels open and operating because with each of the rooms being occupied at a downtown hotel comes added business for restaurants and retail shops throughout the city. Our only hope is for others around the country, and world, to appreciate the Land of Pleasant Living as much as we, its residents, do.