NAPA ? Hotel developers eager to tap into Napa Valley's Wine Country tourism
are either building or planning more than 1,800 new rooms, dotting the county
in Napa, Yountville, American Canyon and Calistoga.
Almost all of the projects are directed at higher-end customers and business
groups and range from towering, big brand hotels to expansions on local names
and faces. Most have been in the works for several years, but recently contractors
and builders seem to be steaming ahead for new customers city officials believe
are on the way.
Tourism officials said the wave of new rooms has been years in the making.
"It may look like hotel properties are booming in Napa and throughout the
county, but all properties being developed have held development approvals
for several years. It seems that over the past two to three years, financing
for the construction of properties has finally opened since 9/11," said Napa
Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Beth Carmichael.
"New properties in Napa offer more choices for our guests to experience.
... A number of hotel developers have told me they have been watching the
Napa Valley market, some for as many as 15 years," she said.
Between 2004 and 2005, Napa Valley's average annual occupancy rates improved
by 4.2 percent to exceed 72 percent, closely competing with San Francisco
at an annual average of 76.4 percent, according to PKF Consulting. Last year,
that number dipped to an annual average of 69.1 percent. Napa?s six month
average ending in June of this year was 68.8 percent.
A 2001 study by HVS International reported that Napa could successfully absorb
1,500 new hotel rooms, and by April all but 375 of those were close to being
built. Napa city planners will soon release results from an updated study
commissioned this year.
According to a 2006 Napa County Visitor Profile and Napa County Economic
Impact Study, the travel market is largely domestic and has household incomes
of more than $100,000 on average. Tourists spend an average of $2.5 million
per day in total that produces approximately $123 million in taxes.
<h3>Projects and plans by city:</h3>
Napa ? The developers of the Meritage Resort at Napa Valley Corporate
Park have submitted plans to expand by 160 rooms. Owner Pacific Hospitality
Group opened a $7.5 million, 9,000-square-foot spa in March.
The four-diamond Westin Verasa is scheduled to open next spring after breaking
ground in 2006.
Investors poured $63 million into owning one of 160 luxury condo hotel rooms
for access up to 29 days a year. The building, owned by Intrawest Corp.,
also includes plans for a 3,700-square-foot restaurant and lounge and 17,000
square feet of meeting space. The project is estimated at $50 million.
In April, River House Land Co. signed a letter of intent to construct a Ritz-Carlton
luxury hotel in the Oxbow district, formally planned as the Napa Resort and
Spa. The hotel between Copia and the Silverado Trail would have 351 rooms.
City planners said the group revised its application since taking over the
project and will have to resubmit likely this spring.