WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio – A new five-story Home 2 Suites by Hilton hotel is planned for Schulze Drive in West Chester Township, bringing 112 new hotel rooms to Butler County.
The new hotel is almost 20 miles from where the giant Spooky Nook sports and convention complex is slated to open next year in Hamilton. Officials said residents and businesses in the township would reap the benefits.
“When you talk about getting 400 teams together for a weekend, there’s no way Hamilton can accommodate all of that and the next best location is West Chester,” said Mark Hecquet, president and CEO of the Butler County Visitors Bureau. “Because all the brands are here, the convenience of the freeway, you have the restaurants and the stores, this is the next logical location.”
According to the BCVB, there are currently only two hotels with 168 rooms in Hamilton – 235 rooms are planned as part of the Spooky Nook complex – and in the rest of the county outside of West Chester the options are: Fairfield 609; Liberty Twp. 222; Middletown 25; Monroe 87 and Oxford 407 rooms already there or to come, for a total of 1753.
The township and other jurisdictions shared a 6 percent hotel tax with the visitors’ office. Over the past five years, the township has raised nearly $ 5.2 million to help pay for services to residents and businesses. During the pandemic shutdown, when travel was severely curtailed it made a big drop in income, annual fundraising fell from around $ 1.2 million to $ 627,867 last year, but rebounded this year at $ 859,848.
The BCVB relies on the hotel tax to do its job of helping to organize tourism events and opportunities in the county. Over the past five years, they’ve raised $ 6.36 million in lodging tax revenue. The five-year high was in 2019 at $ 1.736 million, but it fell to $ 802,304 last year. For the first semester of this year, they raised $ 561,557.
“What happened with COVID-19, as we all know, travel has been decimated and is still far from returning to pre-pandemic levels, so our hotel communities, especially in West Chester, really struggle with their business on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, ”says Hecquet.
“On the plus side, with the borders reopening, in November we saw an increase in business, but now we have new variations, so it will be a tough drag.”
Across the county, even with the pandemic hitting hotels hard, seven new accommodation options – including a converted hotel – have opened or will open soon, five of them in West Chester. Hecquet said these settlements don’t materialize overnight, they were planned years before anyone could predict global catastrophe.
West Chester Community Development Director Aaron Wiegand said Spooky Nook is sure to have a positive impact.
“We see Spooky Nook as a positive influence throughout Butler County and certainly in West Chester,” Wiegand said. “We hear that some of our new hotel developers have mentioned the release of Spooky Nook. “
Wiegand said the new hotel enters an area already zoned for hotels. Details on the project are scarce. The Hamilton Journal-News has contacted the owners for more details, but they have not responded.
Having a huge stable of hotels has its perks, but Wiegand said he also heard comments that there were already too many hotels in the township. He said they can’t “close the door” if someone wants to build one in an area already zoned for that use.
“The general consensus is that there are too many …” said Wiegand. “To be honest, they see it because local residents typically don’t use hotels as a new restaurant, new mall, or new retail location – they’re excited about these things. The hotels are primarily intended for residents from outside. I’m not sure it’s that they don’t like hotels, it’s that they like the restaurants and retail businesses that they use on a daily basis.
Sept. 2021: each Spooky Nook project from April to August 2022 is now booked
WCPO: Work on Spooky Nook, B Street progresses in Hamilton
April 2019: Hamilton not ready for thousands of Spooky Nook visitors