Rooms once committed to guests, staff and visitors of the Democratic National Convention are now available at York County’s hotels, but operators hope the space fills quickly as the start of the Sept. 4-6 convention in Charlotte approaches.
The rooms became available when convention organizers reduced their requests for rooms by 7 percent. Some hotels, such as the Holiday Inn, saw their expected number of room rentals cut in half, and other hotels experienced more severe cuts.
Still other hotels are reporting full houses, especially for the week of the convention.
Sixteen York County hotels had committed 11,000 rooms for the convention. How many rooms will become available won’t be known until final convention reservations are made, hopefully by Friday, hotel operators said.
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Three hotels, the Quality Inns in Rock Hill and Fort Mill and the Country Inn & Suites in Rock Hill, are advertising available rooms.
Overall, York County has 24,000 hotel rooms. Some hotels held back a few rooms for frequent or corporate customers for the convention. Many were advising key clients not to schedule visits to the area during the convention.
People looking to make last-minute reservations should start looking online Saturday, hotel operators said.
Rock Hill will be hosting media members and security staff. No state delegations are staying in the county.
Among the news organizations staying in Rock Hill are:
• The New York Times at the Wingate by Wyndham.
• BET at the Comfort Inn.
• Members of the White House press corps at the Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham.
• South Carolina Educational Television at the Winthrop Inn.
Because of the types of visitors staying in York County, tourism officials predict hotels, gas stations and late-night restaurants should see more business.
Meeting spaces in Rock Hill such as the Magnolia Room, the Palmetto Room and the Baxter Hood Center have not been booked for convention-related activities.
To meet expected demand, the bars at the Holiday Inn and the Courtyard by Marriott are extending their hours.
Of the York County hotels that had contracted with the DNC to provide rooms, the Wingate, the Hampton Inn and the Courtyard by Marriott report they are sold out for the convention. A clerk at the Baymont Inn & Suites reported its rooms were filled “with Democrats.”
The uncertainty over rooms appears to have hit the Holiday Inn the hardest. The Holiday Inn contracted to provide the DNC with 912 room nights but is expected to sell half that, said sales manager Kimberly McDaniel. The convention had reserved 72 of the hotel’s 114 rooms.
The Holiday Inn, and other local hotels, had set aside rooms starting Saturday. Now, most expect their business to be heaviest from Sept. 4-6, the week of the convention.
Hotels that did not contract with the DNC report average sales.
“We are hoping for convention business,” said Umesh Patel, manager of the Howard Johnson hotel. “For now, we are so-so.”
As the convention draws closer, Dilip Patel, manager of the Microtel, said he expects room reservations to pick up. Patel said that usually happens when there are big events in Charlotte.
When the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association college basketball tournament filled Charlotte hotel rooms, York County rooms were filled with the spillover, he said.
Those wanting to go the convention likely will find a premium rate. Dilip Patel estimates rates for the convention are between 25 percent and 50 percent higher than at other times of the year. “It depends on location and the types of facilities they have,” he said.