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Austin - X Games and Piping Hot Pipeline Add to Sizzling Market Mix

The TX market is going gangbusters and there seems to be more opportunity for hoteliers looking to enter this vibrant market.

Monday, April 14, 2014
Mr. Jim Merritt
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With an average of 300 days of sunshine, Austin in central Texas is known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Each year it welcomes fans from around the world to huge outdoor music extravaganzas such as the South by Southwest Festival in March, the Austin City Limits Festival in October and the Fun Fun Fun Fest
 in November – the latter featuring indie rock, hip hop, punk, electronica and metal bands in Austin's urban park.

So, what could the state capital do to add even more sizzle to its reputation as one of America’s hottest cities?

Here comes – or should we say leaps, grinds and roars -- the ESPN X Games.

From June 5 to 8, the summer games of extreme sports will be filling Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA) sports and entertainment center and its downtown. About 200 athletes will be competing in pulse-racing events such as Moto X, BMX, and extreme skateboarding, and for the first time a Stadium SUPER Trucks event is being added to the event’s wild and woolly mix.

And if that’s not enough to rev your engines, a music festival will showcase a world-class lineup including Kanye West, Flaming Lips and Pretty Lights. Headliners will play the Austin360 Amphitheater, and in addition to featured shows, X Games Austin will showcase a local artist stage and dance hall offering some of today's top DJs and EDM artists.

“Austin's vibrant youth culture, richness in music and art was a perfect fit for us as we transition into a festival model,” says Tim Reed, X Games senior director, events & content. “They also offered a world-class facility with a pre-existing infrastructure at Circuit of the Americas.” The X Games has made a four-year commitment to holding its annual event Austin.

With 1.8 million residents in its metropolitan area, Austin is the eleventh largest city in the U.S. and was the third-fastest-growing large city in the nation from 2000 to 2013, according to the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. It was recently named by Forbes magazine as the Nation’s #1 Boom Town for the Next Decade. You can hear live music at more than 250 venues throughout the city. Many know its music scene from watching Austin City Limits, which spawned the eponymous Music Festival, which generates an economic impact of around $106 million. Some 2,000 recording artists including Willie Nelson live there.

The hotel construction scene is also hopping.

Austin currently has 6,500 downtown hotel rooms , a number that is expected to increase to 8,500 by 2016 with new construction, according to its Convention & Visitors Bureau. Its hotel construction pipeline ranks seventh among U.S cities in terms of the number of rooms, says Bruce Ford of Lodging Econometrics in Portsmouth, NH.

“The pipeline is fairly robust,” Ford says, adding that “Austin, according to our recent publication, has 48 hotel projects in the new construction pipeline with 7,901 rooms.” Ford says that 21 of those projects are scheduled to start this year.
One of the largest in the pipeline is JW Marriott Austin. At its scheduled opening next March, it will be the largest JW Marriott hotel in the United States and the second JW Marriott in Texas, says Jay Spurr, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. It will feature three restaurants including full-service regional Italian, local Texas cuisine and a walk-up food truck-style window on Congress Ave. hotel will achieve a LEED Silver certification and two-star Austin Energy Green Building rating, he says.

“The JW Marriott Austin will have more than 1,000 rooms under one roof and will allow Austin to bring in conferences and large national conventions for which it could not otherwise compete,” Spurr says.

Also in the downtown, the Hotel Van Zandt, a 16-story Kimpton property, will feature 327 rooms including 12,000 square feet of meeting space. It will have an onsite restaurant, pool deck, exercise facility and three levels of underground parking. It’s scheduled for completion in early 2015.

Also planned for a 2015 downtown opening: Hotel ZaZa’s 24-story tower with 215 luxury apartments atop a 160-room hotel. The brand also has hotels in Dallas and Houston.

And spring of 2015 should see the completion of The 17-story, 366-room Westin Austin Downtown, a joint venture between White Lodging Services Corporation, the Harry Whittington family and REI Real Estate Services, LLC. It will include a White Lodging-managed, full-service restaurant, a fitness center and 15,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space. The Sixth Street entertainment district is just around the corner.
Mr. Jim Merritt
Associate Editor
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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