November 11, 2004

New Inn May Not Affect Hotel Room Availability

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In a city where there are more than 10 hotels within a three-mile radius, the controversy over the Remington Inn, the proposed hotel to be built on Cayuga Lake, has led to questions of whether the extra rooms and amenities are necessary. The lakefront property that Remington may be built on has allowed students to use the lake for academics and athletics in the past. Opponents argue that Remington would make the lake inaccessible to students.

A survey of several hotels around the Ithaca region reveals that Remington’s 25 rooms were unlikely to make a significant difference in room availability at any given time over the course of a year.

One of the largest hotels in the area, with 177 rooms, Holiday Inn Ithaca is frequently full on weekends during the summer and fall seasons, and garners 70 percent occupancy on average annually. General manager Stanley Witko added, “this is typical for hotels around here.”

Tina Shaw from the Ramada Inn, with 121 rooms, said it was usually full on weekends, especially during major Cornell-related events such as graduation or parents’ weekend. She pointed out that during other times of the year, approximately half the hotel was occupied. Cornell University’s Statler Hotel, with 150 rooms, is full to capacity every weekend from March until the end of November. For the rest of year, according to Statler’s general manager Richard Adie, the hotel typically garners 75 to 80 percent occupancy. Adie added that because Statler was located on the Cornell campus, the hotel “tends to run about 15 to 20 percent higher than the competition.” He pointed out that Statler also gets the benefit of hosting many corporate and business conferences, which make up about half of its customers on average.

The rate of occupancy does not deviate much for smaller hotels. The Super 8 Motel’s 63 rooms are full during Cornell events such as football games and graduation. Otherwise, according to concierge Kimberly Breese, the motel is about 50 to 75 percent full. Hampton Inn has only been open for seven months but according to concierge Patrick Gilligan, about 80 percent of its 66 rooms are occupied from April to September. Gilligan additionally speculated that, as they headed into the winter season, this figure would become 65 percent of the hotel’s full capacity.

Adie observed that “this market in Ithaca is very cyclical,” pointing out that some hotels in the area fare very badly during the winter months. Breese had similar thoughts: “When we’re busy, we have to send people to other towns, but when we’re not, most hotels run less than 50 percent.”

When asked about how Remington Inn would fare, Adie said, “[The lake] is beautiful from May to October, but it’s not necessarily as nice the rest of the year.” Regardless, he added, “[It is] a sound business concept … I think there would be a market for [Remington Inn] … it would be a good place for business retreats … It’s the only hotel built on the lake, and they could sell it a bit as a resort.”

Members of the Cornell community, however, have expressed concern over the proposed plans.

If Remington Inn is built under the current proposal, according to Whitney Patross ’05, a member of the Cornell sailing team, “all current student waterfront activity [will be] limited and future programs will not have the space to be created.” She added, in an e-mail, “[Does] the hotel have to be right here? The hotel could be across the road, have the same view of the lake, and they would not have the major issues that are currently being raised.”

The proposed inn would include a 258-seat restaurant, a two-story 25-guest lodge, and a 4,690-square foot boathouse. The Student Assembly recently agreed to act as a conduit between the student body and the University in order to express support for Cayuga Lake access.

Archived article by Julie Geng
Sun Staff Writer