Biloxi Sees Jump in Number of Non-Casino Hotels, more City News

From:  City of Biloxi   2/8/17  GCN

The success of the year-old Margaritaville Resort and its pending expansion has captured a great deal of attention in recent months, but Margaritaville is part of a bigger story, Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich said last week in his State of the City presentation.

It's the tremendous and continuing expansion of non-casino hotels in the Biloxi market.

"In the past year, with Margaritaville and the new Hyatt Place leading the way, we've seen nearly 500 new hotel rooms come online in Biloxi," Gilich said. "That's a seven percent increase in one year over the 6,825 rooms we had at the end of 2015.

"When you look at the others in the works - the LaQuinta, the Hilton Garden Inn, the Watermark and Margaritaville Phase II - we have more than 700 new rooms in the pipeline for opening in the next 18 to 24 months.

"That's an 18 percent growth over a two- to three-year period. This rate of growth of non-casino hotels is the most we've seen in decades, since the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans."

The numbers, say tourism authority Linda Hornsby, are indicative of the interest in what's happening in Biloxi.
"If you look at the occupancy percent numbers, which are in the 50s, you would think Biloxi is nothing to get excited about," said Hornsby, who has been in the hotel industry for more than two decades. "But the people who make the investments, the forward-thinking people, if they see something on the horizon, they want to capitalize on it, and, right now, Biloxi is a hotbed in the investment world. It is right up there on return on investment."

Hornsby also said Biloxi's occupancy numbers, the number of people staying in hotel rooms, have seen an uptick.

"Last year at this time," she said, "our room inventory was exceeding demand, and now our demand is neck and neck with inventory, and that's with 500 rooms added in the past year."
The mayor says the increase and interest in the number of non-casino hotels makes expanding the waterfront even more important.

"Growing the economy with amenities such as the Margaritaville Phase II, the return of Ship Island Excursions and waterfront boardwalk are the things we need to keep moving forward," Gilich said. "These new amenities and our proven attributes are what keeps our tourism base expanding. And the beauty of it is that this growth is non-casino."

Biloxi hotel rooms, by the numbers:

At the end of 2015, Biloxi had 6,825 hotels rooms.
The following have been added since then:
* Margaritaville -373 Rooms
* Hyatt Place Biloxi - 114 Rooms

This brings the total number of rooms today to 7,312, or a seven percent increase in rooms operating in Biloxi in less than a year.

Add these projections:
* LaQuinta Inn & Suites - 66 rooms
* Hilton Garden Inn - 100 rooms
* The Watermark Hotel - 154 rooms
* Margaritaville's Phase II
* 400 rooms (300 rooms south of U.S. 90; 100 rooms north of U.S. 90)

This will bring the total number of Biloxi hotel rooms to 8,032, or an 18 percent growth in a two- to three-year period.

News and notes

Sweetheart Dance: The Parks & Recreation Department is calling all daddies and daughters to participate in the free Daddy-Daughter Sweetheart Dance taking place Friday night from 7 to 9 at the Donal M. Snyder Community Center. For more information, view the flyer by clicking here.

Increased medical response: Each week the Biloxi Fire Department responds to nearly a hundred emergency medical calls. To meet those demands, more firefighters have completed certifications as Emergency Medical Response Technicians. Read what Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich about this in his State of the City presentation by clicking here.

Released by Vincent Creel and Cecilia Dobbs Walton