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Corner Office from Marketplace

A boom in new hotel construction

Marketplace Contributor Jul 21, 2015
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The Baccarat Hotel and Residences is one of Manhattan’s newest hotels. As its name suggests, it is dripping in crystal, with enormous chandeliers, ornate vases — even its walls are made of what looks like undulating crystal glass.

It is the latest in a rash of new hotels that are opening across New York City, and the country. From Houston to Miami, cranes are busy erecting new hotels. In fact, over the past year, hotel construction is up 21 percent, according to data from STR, which analyzes the industry.

With so much competition, not to mention sites like Airbnb, hotel rates are staying relatively low. That’s welcome news not just for Americans looking to take a trip this summer, but also for Europeans, who have been hard hit by the strong U.S. dollar.

“The U.S. hotel industry is doing either well or really well, depending on where you’re at,” said Jan Freitag, a senior vice president for STR. “We broke records last year, we are breaking records this year. We have more rooms available than ever, but we’ve also sold more rooms than ever and generated more revenue than ever.”

For Europeans, this hotel boom couldn’t come at a better time. The dollar has been strengthening against the euro in recent months, diminishing their spending power and making America costlier than it has been in years.

“It’s getting more expensive,” said Dutch tourist Danny Engels, who was wandering through Times Square with his family recently. He had hoped to buy an Apple Watch, but decided against it because of the exchange rate.

But while Engels has curtailed his spending, he did not cancel his trip. Foreigners typically plan their trips months in advance, so unless it stays expensive for a sustained period, Europeans will continue flocking here, hotel experts predict. And that is good news, as there will certainly be enough hotel rooms to house them.

 

 

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