March provides much needed relief for Nashville hotels but ‘there’s still a long way to go’

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Across the country, the hotel industry experienced what’s being called ‘the most devastating year on record’ in 2020, resulting in historically low occupancy, job cuts and hotel closures.

However, here locally, things are looking up.

STR, a company that investigates data surrounding the hotel industry, says that Nashville is a top market for the fastest hotel demand recovery.

Lorena Duknic, Marketing Specialist for Anchor Rentals says the COVID-19 vaccines were a huge addition to the change in trends. In addition, the relaxed restrictions in Nashville helped as well.

“[Last] month we just went, poof, crazy,” Duknic said. “I kid you not, March was the first profitable month for The Russell since 2020.”

Duknic says in March the hotel was operating around 75 percent. It’s a stark contrast from last year when The Russell was operating at 5 percent capacity and $3,000 in their account.

“I think the travel and tourism industry is starting to see those signs of recovery and trends,” said Gregg Averbuch, President of Summit Management Corporation who owns the Moxy Hotel in Hillsboro Village.

“The weekends are running pretty full, and the weekdays are softer so that averages into something around 50 percent of so that’s varying week to week but realize a year ago we were sitting at virtually zero,” he said. “That’s not a recovery fully and it’s not stabilized or sustainable level but it’s a trend that’s positive.”

More positive news according to the American Hotel and Lodging Associations newest report, hotels will add 200,000 direct hotel operations jobs in 2021 but will remain nearly 500,000 jobs below the industry’s pre-pandemic employment level of 2.3 million employees.

Recovery to 2019 hotel demand levels is forecasted to happen in 2023 and exceeding 2019 annual hotel revenue is projected to happened in 2024, according to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation.

“I think that’s not an unrealistic timeframe because you have multiple segments in the travel and tourism industry and in order to get there, you’d have to see the return of all of those segments,” said Averbuch.

Averbuch added the return of business travel is key.

Even so, Duknic and her team are taking their chances, transforming a church into a brand-new boutique-style hotel in East Nashville called The Gallatin.

“We are trying to bring an experience to guests, not just a hotel,” she said. “We’re hoping everything works out for us it’s definitely scary and expensive.”

Rendering of the lobby of The Gallatin Hotel

We’re told the courtyard will connect the hotel with Fat Bottom Brewery’s newest taproom in town.

Like their sister properties, The Russell and 506 Lofts, each of the hotels gives away a portion of each night’s stay to local homeless ministries through their Rooms for Rooms program.

The average weekend stay at one of Anchor Rental’s properties including The Gallatin provides 16 nights in a bed, 100 free showers, or 30 free meals at one of their nonprofit partners: Nashville Rescue Mission, Room in the Inn, People Loving Nashville, and ShowerUp.

Rooms at The Gallatin are available to book online for stays starting May 14.

Rendering of room at The Gallatin Hotel

News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. Click here for more Nashville 2021 reports.

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