HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - Mayor Tony Petelos likes to say "Hoover's happening," and when it comes to the hotel industry, that statement is proving true with the opening of a new hotel and convention center this weekend.
Hoover city leaders have been trying for years to attract more hotels to their area to give them more blocks of rooms to use as bargaining chips in attracting big events to the area.
With the opening of a new Embassy Suites, that effort takes a big step forward.
A grand 3 story lobby is the first thing visitors see when they walk in the new Embassy Suites in Hoover. It's a first of its kind design meant to make visitors feel at home yet remain trendy enough to convince tourists Hoover and this hotel are worth their travel dollars.
"We believe that is the recipe for success and to get the spark going again in the hospitality industry for the hotels, for cities, for internationally and nationally where the traveler will want to stay in the hotels, will want to travel versus have to stay in the hotel," said Vladimir Pipa, General Manager of the new Embassy Suites location.
The hotel has more than 200 rooms and 14,000 square feet of convention space, and the city is hoping that will help them attract more big events like the SEC baseball tournament and a hot rod gathering scheduled for this spring.
"I think that really helps," said Melissa Burke, Director of Sales for the hotel. "I know the city is really excited about having us here. We're partnering with different people around the city to help produce special events. Because having the more hotel rooms in the area and meeting space helps us to have a better chance of bidding on these larger national associations."
The new Embassy Suites is one of a handful of new hotels that have or will open along the Highway 150 corridor within the next year and these hospitality industry veterans say they aren't afraid of opening at the end of a recession, they think that's perfect timing.
"Because it can only go up at this point," Burke sadi. "We can't go down anymore, and the trends are already trending up. Already in February and March we're starting to see some nice increases over 2009 in occupancy levels, so we believe, and all the studies show the industry is on the rise and the economy is coming back."
For Hoover, new hotel rooms means more money for the city's tight budget from more lodging and sales tax revenues.