Room Boom: Tourism, population growth feeding increased need for lodging

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Motel and hotel room building-wise, the Chippewa Valley has been pretty sleepy since the eighties, but there’s been a room building boom recently.

In the movie “Field of Dreams,” a disembodied voice intones, “If you build it, they will come.” However, additional rooms aren’t being built in the hope that lodgers will suddenly arrive. Rather, the room building boom is due to several factors, such as the steady increase in the valley’s population, the aging of longstanding hotels and motels, the increasing traffic on Highway 53, a demand for newer and better lodging due to social media, music festivals, both new and established, and various other building projects.

This room boom, in turn, generates taxes and jobs, both in the building and the staffing of the new hotels. Some are closing, like Econo Lodge Inn & Suites in Menomonie, which is closing in April 2017. Others are renovated and rebranded, like Menomonie’s Country Inn and Suites, which was renovated to Best Western Plus in 2016, Eau Claire’s Ramada Inn, which was gutted and brought to a high shine as the Lismore, and the Green Tree Inn, which was remade into the quirky, cool Oxbow Hotel. Others are razed, like the once-round Plaza Hotel & Suites.

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