News 12 First at Five; April 1, 2009
ACROSS THE CSRA--- We are just days away from the 2009 Masters and some hotels are taking a hit this year. We give you the good and the bad. Some hotel managers tell News 12, it's not just the economy hurting them.
Even Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver is using a unique way to get the hotels and Masters homes filled for Masters Week.
We went from Aiken County and crossed into Georgia near Washington Road. Some hotel managers are proud to say things are up to par, others though are left with bogeys.
In David Fort's 15 years of Masters hotel experience, this year looks to be the worst. "It's frustrating, but expected," says David. "People are cutting back and you just have a perfect storm."
He expected the hallways of his hotel to be filled right now, but he's only at 60%, compared to 90% normally by this time. That equates to about a $40,000 loss in revenue this year.
"It definitely puts you behind the 8-ball for the rest of the year," says David.
In fact, he's worried about more than just the slow economy. He says, the new hotels popping up all over the area aren't helping things either. "There's an influx of rooms added," says David. "Lowering rates is not going to generate demand."
Closer to the golf course, the Hilton Garden Inn says it's booked solid. But, just down Claussen Road is the Jameson Suites and they tell us room sales are down a little bit this year. On travelocity.com, several hotels are listed as still open.
Even on Facebook, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver is pushing for the 2009 Masters. He talks about the open hotel rooms in the city and the excitement around Tiger Woods coming to play in his first major since his surgery.
A dip in occupancy not only hurts David, but the maids too. "Typically, we give bonus(es) to our employees based upon our Masters performance, but that is in jeopardy," says David.
Scary times for David, as Mayor Copenhaver is thinking how fortunate Augusta is for having the Masters in our current economy. Don't forget, it's about to tee off in just a few days!
We're told sales for Masters Home Rentals are up this week, too. They won't say if its all because of Tiger Woods' big win or not, though.