As tourism rebounds, plans for hotel near Hemisfair expand

With San Antonio’s tourism sector continuing to recover from the pandemic and tourists and convention-goers returning to downtown, plans for a hotel across from Hemisfair are growing as well.

White Lodging, an Indiana hotel development and management company, has resumed its makeover of the former Marriott Plaza and is adding another story and nearly 100 rooms to a new hotel it wants to build next door.

The company’s plans got the green light Wednesday from the city’s Historic and Design Review Commission. The OK came despite concerns from the Conservation Society of San Antonio that the hotel’s height is not appropriate for the area. A society representative also suggested the plans should focus more on pedestrian needs and less on an entrance for cars.

In 2019, White Lodging proposed building a nine-story, 275-room hotel on a parking lot along Alamo Street next to the Marriott Plaza. It halted that project and the Marriott renovation amid the pandemic.

The company recently resumed its makeover of the 251-room Marriott, which it expects to reopen in the first half of 2023 as The Otis Hotel San Antonio. And it now plans to build a 10-story hotel with 347 rooms.

The hotel would include about 11,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a restaurant and a rooftop bar and pool.

White Lodging is also planning to rehabilitate buildings at the property once occupied by the German-English School, which was founded by German immigrants in 1858 to offer bilingual classical education.

Both are city and state historic landmarks. One building will be converted into a restaurant and the other into hotel suites and a small bar.

The project is expected to cost $95 million, with construction beginning in September and wrapping up in August, according to a filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

A spokesperson said White Lodging plans to announce more details in the coming weeks.

The company recently sold 25 management contracts and five hotels as part of a multi-year plan to leave suburban areas and focus on urban markets.

San Antonio’s hospitality industry has been slowly rebounding from the pandemic as vacationers and convention-goers have been returning to the city.

Occupancy at San Antonio hotels averaged 62.2 percent in May, up about 2.3 percent from a year earlier but down 3.1 percent from three years earlier, prior to the pandemic, according to data firm STR.

Revenue per available room — a key measure of hotels’ performance — rose to $80.58 last month, up 22.8 percent from May 2021 and 13.3 percent from May 2019.

In San Antonio’s central business district specifically, occupancy hovered at 62.6 percent last month, still well below 68.9 percent in May 2019. Revemue per available room was $108.31, up from $98.24.

White Lodging’s project is among multiple downtown hotels being built or undergoing renovations.

After delays, Zachry Hospitality expects to begin construction next year on a $340 million mixed-use development at Hemisfair that will include a 200-room hotel.

A group of investors plans to convert the Wyndham San Antonio River Walk into a luxury Intercontinental hotel and Winston Hotels is turning the River Towers building into an AC Hotel by Marriott and an Element Hotel by Westin.

Aztec Family Group LLC and Shreem Capital plan to transform several floors at the Aztec Theatre into a boutique hotel.

A group that includes the Sutton Co. of Austin recently bought the San Antonio Express-News building and plans to refurbish it for a mix of uses that could include a hotel.

The Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk also recently completed a $38 million makeover.

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