The number of hotel rooms in Idaho hit a plateau for several years during the recession. Boise, the state’s largest city, went from 2007 to 2016 without seeing a new hotel open. But with the ball rolling again, in Boise and elsewhere, at least 32 hotels are under construction, recently opened, or are pending in nearly every population center in Idaho.
Meanwhile, residents have also gotten busy on Airbnb and VRBO, turning their homes into income sources and prompting the Idaho Tax Commission to enter into an agreement with Airbnb that will have the short-term lodging giant collect and remit Idaho sales tax, travel and convention tax, and the Greater Boise Auditorium District tax when applicable, to make sure these impromptu hoteliers are paying the lodging tax. The state’s hotel management programs have gotten in on the action too, by making an effort to modernize their training so that their graduates can handle the new technology that comes along with running a hotel or restaurant.
In this quarter’s Square Feet, which is included today with the regular weekly paper, IBR’s real estate and construction quarterly, we’ll tell you about some of those new hotels. Many are part of national chains that are making their first foray into Idaho.
We’ll also introduce you to a new relationship between Guerdon Industries, a modular construction company on Boise’s Federal Way, and Marriott, one of the world’s best-known hotel companies. Marriott expects to sign deals with three companies, including Guerdon, for 50 prefabricated hotels this year.
Some of the new Idaho hotels, like the Limelight in Ketchum and the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Coeur D’Alene, are making sustainability a priority. SpringHill Suites, built in 2013, was the first hotel in Idaho to be certified to comply with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications.
A few laundry rooms are getting in on the act, too. With washing a huge cost in water and energy, Jerame Petry, the owner of a new Holiday Inn in Nampa, a Holiday Inn Express in McCall and the Best Western Plus in McCall, is taking the revolutionary step of using bead-based washing technology from a company called Xeros to cut water and energy use and save money.
Meanwhile, the most traditional of Idaho lodging is still going strong, as you’ll learn in our story about guest ranches and dude ranches. As told by Janice Schoonover, who operates her family’s Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Sandpoint, these venerable institutions have found a winning formula in sticking to the basics of horses, family meals, and teaching rural traditions – while using modern marketing methods to reach guests all over the world. About 8,400 people visited Schoonover’s guest ranch last year from the U.S. and Europe.
As it does for so many reasons, Idaho stands out for its hotel growth. Marcus & Millichap, a national commercial real estate brokerage firm, says Idaho has the seventh-highest proportional growth in hotel rooms in the country. More than 3,000 hotel rooms are expected to be added to the inventory by the end of this year. Idaho lagged for a while, but now it’s zooming ahead. It’s no secret that the world has recently discovered what Idaho has to offer. The hotel building boom is just another sign that Idaho is rapidly moving to a more prominent place on the national map.
Anne Wallace Allen is the editor of the Idaho Business Review.