The addition of a conference center and renovations at the Holiday Inn in downtown Ithaca are expected to increase activity in the area, potentially stimulating hotel and local business.
The renovations, which are scheduled to begin in November 2012 and finish in January 2014, will include revamping the main building, building a conference center and adding of about 10 guest rooms.
Tiffany Gallagher, general manager at the Holiday Inn, said traffic to area, which dips during the weekdays, is expected to increase because conferences will most likely be held Monday to Friday.
“The hotel needs a lot of renovation as is, so we wanted to make the product what we feel would best benefit our future life in Ithaca,” Gallagher said. “We feel like the addition of a meeting space would change the face of the hotel and city.”
Fred Bonn, director of the Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said other facilities in the area can hold events for about 250 people, but the Holiday Inn will be able to host about 400 people after the renovations.
Gallagher said bringing more visitors into the downtown area during the weekdays will benefit the cash drawers of other local businesses.
“It’s a vibrant town, it’s a progressive town, and doing business in this town makes a lot of sense, so we just need to tweak it a little bit so that it makes more sense,” she said.
Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, said the DIA has wanted to see a conference center downtown for some time so the community, not just Ithaca College and Cornell University, can host large conferences.
“They’ll have the capacity for up to 400 people, and those people will all be within walking distance of The Commons, downtown and all the shops, eateries and entertainment that’s downtown,” he said.
Ferguson said he doesn’t believe these renovations will hurt other hotels and local bed and breakfasts’ business because conferences and events held in the new facility will draw in large crowds for other lodging businesses to help support.
Dee Murphy, owner of Noble House Farm Bed and Breakfast in Newfield, N.Y., said the Holiday Inn’s renovations may not negatively affect the business for local bed and breakfasts because the hotel is only adding 10 new rooms, but the increasing number of hotels open in Ithaca is what hurts the local small businesses, like the Noble House.
“It’s just the continued opening of more places to stay that are negatively affecting our business,” she said. “I know that, in a way, that could be positive because that could mean that we see tourism growing, and if tourism grows, then that’s going to be good for all of us, so it’s a double-edged sword.”