Hotel frenzy?

HARLINGEN — A 150-room Hilton Garden Inn isn’t the only new hotel coming to town.

A Homewood Suites by Hilton and La Quinta also appear to be planning to build new hotels here.

But the city’s hotel managers believe the new hotels would deeply cut into their business, forcing them to slash rates to compete.

“It looks like there’s a big frenzy for new hotels in a market that seems to be doing well without the extras,” said Art Kalifa, sales director at Residence Inn by Marriott.

Kalifa and Eddie Aguilar, general manager at Hampton Inn & Suites, said Homewood and La Quinta plan to build new hotels here.

La Quinta operated a hotel at 1002 S. Expressway 77 until last December, when Quality Inn took over the property, a Quality Inn employee said.

Mayor Chris Boswell confirmed new hotels are considering coming to town.

“I have heard there have been other inquires about some other hotels,” Boswell said.

But he said he didn’t have details.

San Antonio-based developer BC Lynd plans to build a 150-room Hilton Garden Inn as part of a project in which the city would build a $14.8 million convention center.

As part of an agreement, BC Lynd would build the hotel, which would be attached to the convention center.

The hotel would become the largest in the city.

“I think it’s a little bit big for this (market),” said Michelle Lopez, sales director at the 93-room Courtyard By Marriott. “It’s a pretty sizable property.”

Aguilar described the city’s current hotel market as healthy.

“In general, we’re doing fairly well, with a lot of corporate clients staying here,” Aguilar said. “What anchors our success is the Southwest (Airlines) hub. We’re booked to capacity Monday through Thursday. All the major (city hotel) brands are always sold out Monday through Thursday.”

But Saarang Rama, owner of Country Inn & Suites, said his hotel has struggled since Residence Inn and Candlewood Suites opened in December 2014.

Since then, occupancy rates have dropped 5 to 10 percent per year, Rama said.

Rama said “fierce competition” has forced him to cut rates.

Once ranging from $90 to $100, his rates now range from $70 and $90.

“It becomes a battle every day,” Rama said. “We’re not doing so well. Certainly we don’t need more rooms in town.”

But Boswell said incoming hotels signal a strong market.

“If hotel owners, operators and developers are willing to invest money, they must believe there’s going to be demand,” Boswell said. “We want more investment in Harlingen.”