New Bedford’s Level of Activity Justifies Hotel

Study Sees a Vacancy Downtown
By Aaron Nicodemus, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD — A professional marketing study has concluded there is a demand for an 80- to 100-bed hotel in downtown New Bedford.

The report, funded by the New Bedford Economic Development Council, concluded the city’s corporations and tourism industry could support an 80-room “boutique” hotel or a 100-room “franchise-affiliated” hotel. Rooms should be priced in the range of $100 to $110, the report said, which would make the hotel competitive with hotels in the region.

Demand for hotel rooms in downtown is seasonal, the report concluded, with demand highest from April to September and lowest from November through February. The report projected that either a boutique hotel or a franchise hotel could expect two-thirds of its rooms to be occupied, on average.

By examining the eight hotels that hold the market now, the authors of the report concluded that the top performers are the Residence Inn in Dartmouth and the two Hampton Inns, one in Westport and one in Fairhaven. The report suggested modeling the proposed downtown hotel on those business plans.

The report was compiled by The Pinnacle Advisory Group, a professional, hotel consulting firm in Boston. After sending surveys to more than 200 companies and tourist attractions in the area, Pinnacle received 41 responses, and based its conclusion largely on the opinions stated in those surveys.

“Based on responses from tourist and commercial demand generators, a site downtown, and in particular the historic district, would be the most appropriate for the development of a hotel,” the report said. “The location downtown would allow a hotel property to capitalize on the many commercial office buildings, tourism attractions and the accessibility to the city’s waterfront.”

Mayor Scott W. Lang said the report was commissioned after several developers contacted the city, looking for data to bolster the case for a hotel downtown. He said the report is the first step towards bringing a mid-sized hotel downtown.

“My gut feeling is the city could support a modestly sized hotel to start with, with some amount of conference or meeting space,” he said.

The development could involve the renovation of an existing building, new construction or some combination of rehabilitation and new construction. It would all depend on the private developers interested in the project, he said.

“The report laid out for me that it is possible. Now let’s see what happens,” he said.

The city now has one hotel, the Days Inn on Hathaway Road. The Holiday Inn Express in Fairhaven is the closest to the city’s downtown. The former New Bedford Hotel, located downtown, was converted into apartments years ago.

The city has tried to bring a hotel downtown for years, and almost succeeded in 2004, when a developer was poised to turn the former New Bedford Institution for Savings building on Union Street into a boutique hotel.

That plan never materialized.

Contact Aaron Nicodemus at
Date of Publication: November 23, 2006 on Page A15