NAPA COUNTY -- A number of forthcoming or proposed hotel expansion projects this year could have the Napa Valley well positioned if a tepid economic recovery takes full swing in 2013 -- and early indications show signs of business returning to pre-rececssion levels, according to hotel managers and tourism experts.
Numerous projects are in the works just in the city of Napa, and another project in St. Helena, the proposed 57-room Grandview Hotel, received tentative approval from the city's Planning Commission last week to add a 40-seat restaurant to the proposal. The City Council will vote on the matter within the next month or so, according to its investment group, Grandview Hotel Investors, LLC.
In the city of Napa, there are 657 rooms, from five separate hotel projects, that are approved and awaiting construction, according to a list provided by the city. Another 84 rooms are pending approval. The southern portion of Napa County near Airport Park is counted separately, where another project, a Montalcino Resort Hotel, has been approved for a 379-room property.
[caption id="attachment_48826" align="alignleft" width="160"] Clay Gregory[/caption]
The projects are further proof that the tourism sector is seeing a sustained turnaround, according to Clay Gregory, chief executive officer of the Napa Valley Destination Council.
"Our growth was robust, and you see major companies investing," Mr. Gregory said. "From a lodging standpoint, we're doing much better than most of the country."
By the end of March, The Meritage Resort and Spa in South Napa will complete a $40 million expansion that consists of an added 131,300 square feet and additional 165 rooms, just about doubling the hotel.
[caption id="attachment_48828" align="alignright" width="288"] Reynaldo Zertuche[/caption]
Embassy Suites Napa Valley will also wrap up the first phase of an $8.5 million total renovation on its 205-room hotel by the end of March. The first phase of room renovations cost $4 million, and a second, $4.5 million phase -- which will revamp the lobby, add 4,000 square feet of meeting space and add new outdoor furniture and fire pits -- is set to begin in November and be completed by May 2013. The completion date should be ideally timed for when the rebound should be in full gear, General Manager Reynaldo Zertuche said.
"Occupancy levels are as good as before in 2008 and 2007, at least for us," he said. "With the average daily rate, we are close to achieving the ADR in '08 , and in a year or two years, we should be there."
[caption id="attachment_48829" align="alignleft" width="280"] The Embassy Suites Napa Valley is undergoing renovation[/caption]
Embassy Suites is also hoping to move forward on an expansion of 40 to 45 rooms, but financing has not yet been secured, and Mr. Zertuche said the cost and timing are not yet known. The hotel is operated by Hilton Worldwide and owned by Texas-based FelCor Lodging Trust Inc. a publicly traded company.
More projects are in the works and more are likely to be announced in the coming year or so, Mr. Gregory said.
Other notable Napa projects include The Napa River Inn, which is moving forward on a plan to add up to 26 rooms to its 66-room hotel, an expanded spa and other improvements.
Both a St. Regis resort in Carneros and The Ritz Carlton on Silverado Trail could break ground later this year, Mr. Gregory said. Those two projects would be a significant boon, but they have yet to nail down financing.