The $10 million renovation of Nashville’s iconic Union Station Hotel is complete. And according to project heads, the timing is apt.
Projects currently underway in Nashville spell a rapid influx of new hotel rooms the city’s urban core — if the majority of projects currently being discussed actually happen, the number of rooms in the downtown-West End corridor will more than double in the next few years.
“The competition is coming,” said Ray Waters, regional director of hospitality for hotel majority owner Turnberry Associates, a company based in Aventura, Fla.
The massive project, slated for formal celebration this evening at a “grand reopening” ceremony, includes a new marble floor and restored historic details in the 65-foot main lobby. All guest rooms have been completely overhauled – no two are alike, and all feature new marble in the bathrooms.
Climate control and Internet systems have been modernized. And a new “upscale comfortable” restaurant, Prime 108, has been added.
The hotel was purchased from an investment fund in 2005 by Turnberry Associates as well as minority shareholders Corner Partnership, a group of investors including Mark Bloom of Nashville. Turnberry and Corner Partnership also are primary investors in Nashville’s Downtown Hilton.
Waters said Nashville’s hotel market boom has created room for a hotel catering to very high-end demographics, and the Union Station renovations are accompanied by an increase in the average room rate of $103 in 2005, to the current range of $175 to $275 per night.
Currently, downtown’s priciest rooms tend to be at the Hermitage, followed by the Downtown Hilton, Waters said.
Union Station is now in a similar price range. For downtown Nashville as a whole, average room rates were $111.99 in 2006 and $101.35 in 2005, according to statistics from the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
According to statistics from the Tennessee Hotel and Lodging Association, the industry is an increasingly profitable one.
Average revenues per room — a key statistic when seeking investment in a hotel — increased in Nashville by more than 14 percent between 2005 and 2006, from $50 to $60.97. In that time, room “demand” increased 6.3 percent, as measured by the number of rooms sold.
The hotel’s revitalized décor — coupled with the intimate level of customer service planned for the 125-room hotel, Waters said — allows Union Station to now target a client base of business travelers and upscale vacationers. A marketing campaign reaching out to this group is being launched this week.
Prior to the renovations, though, the hotel was considered an underutilized space by its owners, Waters said. It had last been decorated in the 1980s.
“It had gotten so bad that people weren’t using it anymore,” Waters said. “We just always saw that this had a great potential that was not being met.”