Why Downtown Boise Needs More Hotels

Mar 18, 2015

This month, two different companies proposed building new hotels across the street from one another in downtown Boise. If built, they would also be across the street from the existing Hampton Inn and a block from the Grove Hotel.  

There are currently eight hotels within 10 blocks of Boise’s downtown convention venue, the Boise Centre. They have a total of 1,238 rooms. But Carrie Westergard, director of the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau, says there’s a shortage of rooms that can be blocked off and booked in advance. Westergard says that’s a problem for big downtown events like conventions.

She says conventions often have to split attendees up in multiple hotels, which many event organizers don’t like. If, for example, organizers want 200 rooms in one hotel within walking distance of the Boise Centre for a convention a year from now, they’re out of luck. Westergard says the largest downtown hotel, The Grove has 250 rooms but will usually only book 150 as a block.

She says the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau often has to bring event organizers to Boise to convince them to consider the city.

“Once people get to Boise they do see how easy everything is and how close everything is, including the airport,” Westergard says. “So working with several hotels is not an issue once we get people here to see that.”

But organizers of really big events often skip Boise all together. Westergard says between the eight downtown hotels there are fewer than 300 rooms that can be reserved in advance.

Westergard says Boise hotels are doing record business. On an average day in 2014 she says, about 65 percent of rooms in the Boise area were occupied. She says downtown Boise definitely needs more hotel space.

She'd like to see a big-name hotel like Marriott or Hilton with more than 200 rooms.

Neither proposed downtown project fits that description. The Idaho Statesman reports that one of them will have 180 rooms and its developer is trying to make a deal with a national chain.

The other wouldn’t cater much to convention-goers. Still, Westergard thinks it might be good for Boise tourism in general. It’s a high-end, “boutique” hotel. She says there’s nothing like in Boise right now.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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