"Our proximity to (Research Triangle Park) generates demand for four-star hotels," said Dave Heinl, president of the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Heinl said 1,000 hotel rooms, rated four stars or higher, in Wake County could be what the travel market needs to cater to the business that would be generated by the new Raleigh convention center, as well as corporate travelers, who currently stay in top-rated hotels in other cities in the Triangle.
"Many times when they are doing business in Raleigh, they stay in hotels in Chapel Hill because of the level or quality of the hotel they are accustomed to," Heinl said.
Right now, Wake County has 124 hotels with 14,000 rooms, but not one facility is above a three-star rating.
When the old Raleigh Convention Center is knocked down, a Marriott Hotel with about 400 rooms will be built in its place. About 200 more are planned at The Renaissance Hotel at North Hills and if the proposed Glen Tree Westin is approved near Crabtree Valley Mall, another 250 rooms would come online in Wake County.
"It's going to help the whole business, development of the Raleigh-Cary area," said Robert Schofield, the managing director for the new Umstead Hotel and Spa on the SAS campus. When it opens in December 2006, it will have 150 full-service rooms.
But is going from zero to about 1,000 upper scale rooms in just three years too much competition that would only create an over-saturated market?
North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden does not think so because the hotels will each have their own niche.
"A hotel in Downtown Raleigh is not necessarily going to compete with one near SAS or the northern part of the county," Walden said.
While a lot of four-star hotels may be built at the same time in bigger cities, the North Carolina Hotel and Lodging Association said from 1990 to 2000, only seven full-service properties were built in the entire state.
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