Charlotte Hotel Rates Soar in Advance of Democratic National Convention

As the Republican primaries unfold in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Democrats already are turning their attention to fall 2012, when they'll convene in Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Convention — if they can afford to, that is, as hotel room rates are "going up in a big way at some area hotels," local newspaper the Charlotte Observer recently reported.

According to the paper, room rates in some cases have quadrupled or more. The Holiday Inn Express Suites East Matthews, for instance, is charging $849.15 to $1,104 per night from Aug. 24 to Sept. 7. That's up from $126.65 to $184 the week prior. Rates at the Quality Inn at Carowinds Fort Mill, meanwhile, start at $699 per night during the week of the convention, compared to $63.86 before the convention.

"In Denver, host city for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, rates for available hotel rooms ran higher than normal, but not by much," the Charlotte Observer said. "The average daily rate for Denver rooms in August 2008, the month of the convention, rose to $143.53 compared to $113.44 the year before. Downtown, room rates averaged $180.42."

Vinay Patel, a director at OHM Hotel Management Inc. — which manages both the Holiday Inn Express Suites and the Quality Inn — said the inflated rates at his properties are for marketing purposes only: The high prices allow him to keep some inventory open so that his hotel still shows up in Internet search results between now and the convention.

"In my 20 years of business, I don't think anybody's going to pay that," he told the Observer.