The hotel building binge of the past five years is coming to an end, with one final major facility getting ready to open.
The Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is slated to open near the Bellingham International Airport on March 28. The 153-room facility is a full-service hotel, with a restaurant, conference rooms, bar, indoor pool and exercise facility. It has a variety of guest rooms and suites, with suites having separate living rooms, a dining area and sleeper couches.
The Holiday Inn joins several new hotels that have come to Whatcom County in recent years. Since 2013, more than 800 rooms have become available, many in new hotels in north Bellingham. As expected, it led to a drop in the hotel occupancy rate in 2016, but appeared to be stabilizing in recent months.
According to data collected from Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, with about half of the hotels reporting, 56.8 percent of the hotels were occupied in January. That’s up significantly from January 2016, when the rate was 49.3 percent. One reason for the uptick is the increased turnaround work being done at the local refineries, said Sandy Ward, president and CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. That uptick is expected to continue through March.
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Ragan Humphrey, general manager of the new Holiday Inn, said he sees this as opportunity.
“I think we are coming in at a good time,” Humphrey said. “The other hotels have had a chance to stabilize and I feel we have even more to offer.”
The addition of the Holiday Inn does address a shortage in the community, according to Ward: Conference space for meetings and events.
“Meeting space is something we really need in this community,” Ward said.
In designing the hotel, a lot was done to bring a sense of the outdoors into the decor, said Randi Axelsson, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. Some of the wallpaper has a tree bark look and feel, for example, while the top of the bar looks as though it has a stream is running through it. Northwater, the hotel’s restaurant, has an outdoor theme while the indoor pool has plenty of windows to bring in the natural light.
Located near the airport, the hotel is expected to be a good option for the business travelers and those who are catching early flights. It also may attract the leisure traveler and big groups, including soccer teams in town for a tournament.
For details on the hotel, visit its website or call 1-888-HOLIDAY.