Denver's Convention Headquarters Hotel Triggering Wave of Downtown Hotel Development - 2006-03-29

The recent opening of Denver's convention headquarters hotel, the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center, appears to have done more than just bring 1,100 new rooms to the city's inventory. It seems to be triggering a whole new wave of downtown hotel development, as well.

"The opening of the Hyatt is having the biggest impact on the Denver hotel scene in a decade," said hotel consultant Michael Cahill, president of Denver-based Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. "The dynamics in downtown Denver are being changed in terms of room rates and new development."

Ground was broken in January on a 221-room Hilton Garden Inn on a site across the street from the Hyatt. Scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2007, the Hilton property will offer 4,000 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom and several conference rooms. Amenities will include a restaurant, a pool and an exercise room.

Other new activity includes the recent purchase of a downtown site by the Hotel Teatro Group for a proposed mixed-use complex that would include a 230-room Four Seasons and 140 luxury condos on the hotel's upper floors. Construction is expected to start next year, with completion set for mid-2008.

According to Cahill, other hotels on the drawing board for Denver include a W property and a Ritz-Carlton. He believes that the increased meetings business sparked by the Hyatt Regency Denver, as well as the expanded convention center, will support additional hotels.

He said that until now, Denver never realized its potential as a convention destination. "Downtown was always a good hotel market, but groups were the weak link," said Cahill.

According to David Gauthier, director of sales and marketing for the Hyatt Regency Denver, the hotel already had more than $100 million worth of business on the books for 2006 to 2012 before it opened on Dec. 20. He said occupancies at the hotel began at about 50 percent in January and soared above 90 percent in March.

"Groups were not hesitant to book for the first quarter; I think they were confident that we would open on time because of the involvement by the city in our development," said Gauthier. "It's also significant because this is usually not a busy time of year for Denver."

While the hotel expects that at least 70 percent of its business will be tied to the Colorado Convention Center, Gauthier said the Hyatt, which has 66,000 square feet of meeting space, also is seeing plenty of demand for on-site meetings, particularly from the rebounding corporate market.

Another change in the downtown hotel landscape is the upgraded former Hyatt Regency Denver, now the Grand Hyatt Denver. Located just two blocks from the Hyatt Regency, the Grand Hyatt has completed a renovation of all 511 guestrooms, with new bedding, high-speed Internet access and remodeled bathrooms. The hotel also has an additional 20,000 square feet of banquet space, renovated meeting areas and a redesigned porte-cochere entrance and lobby.

The two Hyatts recently sponsored a taxicab driver appreciation day, so that drivers would be aware that the city now has two Hyatt hotels.