Austin’s largest hotel is quickly taking shape in downtown. Developers of the JW Marriott Austin say they’re moving up the previously announced opening date by a couple of weeks to February 20.
White Lodging, of Merrillville, Indiana, broke ground on the 34-story hotel in August 2012. The convention and meeting hotel will be Austin’s largest, featuring 1,012 guest rooms, 42 meeting rooms, 112,000 square feet of event space, and three restaurants. The hotel will employ more than 700 people.
The hotel project has been a hot-button topic in Austin since it was first proposed in 2006, largely because it displaced the popular Las Manitas Avenue Cafe, a funky Mexican eatery that appealed to Austinites and tourists of all stripes.
But the new Marriott is only one of several major projects changing the face of downtown Austin (to name a couple: the under-construction, 30-story Colorado Tower office building, and the 37-story W Hotel Austin that opened in 2010), and the Marriott welcomed members of the media on Monday to get a first-hand look at the progress.
Jay Spurr, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, led a hard-hat tour to the 29th floor, where we took in the expansive views of downtown and beyond. We could see the airport to the east, Town Lake to the south, the Capitol and the UT Campus to the north, and West Lake Hills to the west.
Spurr says the project is nearly 75 percent complete, and the hotel has already sold out rooms for its opening date, when it has booked an undisclosed convention. Hotel occupancy rates are high in Austin, as anyone who’s tried to book a hotel room on a busy weekend in the city knows. Spurr expects that trend to continue.
“In 2012 and 2013, the occupancy level downtown was 80 percent, so there’s definitely demand,” he says. “Right now, we’re not foreseeing that to change much for 2014.”
The new hotel won’t be cheap. Rates for standard 411-square-foot king rooms are expected to be about $400 per night, while 820-square-foot executive suites are expected to average about $800 per night, Spurr says.
Developers say the hotel’s eco-friendly features will qualify for LEED Silver certification and a two-star Austin Energy Green Building rating. Among the environmental features are water-efficient landscaping, recycling of onsite construction waste, energy efficient heating and air-conditioning, and low-flow plumbing fixtures.