Economic Development and Travel & Tourism

Hotels are on record pace again

Industry has been booming in Kent County since 2012.

November 14, 2014
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Business and leisure travelers continued to make their way to Beer City USA and the Kent County region in 2014.

According to the latest Smith Travel Research statistics, which run through September 2014, Kent County hotel revenue is exceeding last year’s numbers by 9 percent year-to-date, while occupancy is up 3.9 percent year-to-date.

“We are very pleased to report that Kent County hotels are having another good year,” said Janet Korn, senior vice president at Experience Grand Rapids.

Experience Grand Rapids is predicting Kent County hotel revenue will end the year between 9 percent and 10 percent ahead of 2013’s numbers.

Kent County has experienced record revenues and occupancy since 2012, when it celebrated a record-breaking $127 million in revenue.

In 2013, Kent County hotel revenue was 9.7 percent higher than in 2012, Korn noted.

The momentum isn’t slowing down. Projections for the year ahead are also positive.

“We are projecting that 2015 hotel revenue will be 5 percent ahead of year-end 2014,” Korn said.

Reasons for the continued increase have to do with a strong marketing effort, Grand Rapids’ continued title as Beer City USA, and numerous special events and convention bookings.

For the remainder of the year, Experience Grand Rapids plans to focus its marketing efforts on Grand Rapids Ballet’s newly re-imagined “The Nutcracker,” which has its world premiere this holiday season. The production has some big names attached to it, which should help draw visitors to Grand Rapids.

Chris Van Allsburg, who is the renowned author of “The Polar Express,” “Zathura,” “Jumanji” and other children’s classics, and Eugene Lee, who received a Tony Award for set design for Bernstein’s “Candide,” Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” and “Wicked,” headed up set and production design for the new Nutcracker, while Val Caniparoli created the choreography. His work includes productions for ballet, opera and theater for more than 35 companies across the world.

“We are referring to this holiday season as ‘Nutcracker season,’” Korn said. “The new world premiere of the re-imagined performance offered us a fun way to package two weekends in Grand Rapids.

“We have partnered with area hotels to offer ‘Nutcracker’ hotel overnights, complete with a Nutcracker doll at check in. We also invited area restaurants to create special desserts, establishments to offer special cocktails, and breweries to celebrate their special holiday beers.”

A listing of the Nutcracker-themed desserts, cocktails and beer specials can be found at

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