Thursday, March 28, 2002

Downtown, N.Ky. hotel occupancy rates up in Feb.




By Ken Alltucker, kalltucker@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Downtown and Northern Kentucky hotels enjoyed a modest increase in hotel occupancy rates in February.

        The nugget of good news comes amid a series of boycott-related struggles on other fronts for hoteliers.

        “It's going to be a very, very difficult year,” said Rob Gauthier, general manager of the Millennium Hotel at Sixth and Elm streets downtown. “It's going to be tough to come even with last year.”

        Downtown room occupancy reached 46.7 percent in February compared to 44.6 percent one year ago, according to Smith Travel Research. Northern Kentucky hotels had a similar bump in February occupancy, to 47.8 percent from 46.8 percent in February 2001.

        Year-to-date occupancy downtown and in Northern Kentucky is slightly ahead of last year's pace.

        Downtown's average room rates have held steady at about $79, but Northern Kentucky room prices dipped to $61 during the first two months this year (compared to $65 last year).

        Figures for northern suburban hotels were not available Wednesday.

        Mr. Gauthier is optimistic that the Reds' last season at Cinergy Field will draw more regional visitors this spring and summer.

        Yet hotel executives see trouble ahead.

        The biggest hit came this month when Progressive National Baptist leaders canceled a 10,000-member convention scheduled for August.

        Bill Cosby, Wynton Marsalis, Whoopi Goldberg and other entertainers canceled stops in Cincinnati, too, due to the boycott.

        The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, a union representing 37,000 government employees, also dropped plans for a 2005 session in Cincinnati.

       



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