INDIANAPOLIS — For the last two weekends, Indianapolis has led the nation in hotel occupancy rates, and that includes spring break hot spots like Miami.
“It’s the lead indicator of how the health of a tourism ecosystem is performing,” details Chris Gahl with Visit Indy “We skyrocketed to nearly 96% occupancy in our downtown. We have not enjoyed that level of hotel occupancy since Gen Con was here in 2019.”
Visit Indy attributes the success to the NCAA tournament, along with the Big Ten tournament and volleyball tournaments the week before. Even before March Madness hit, the city hosted more than fifty events safely in the city. Roughly twelve of those were events that relocated to the Circle City from Chicago. Indy’s hospitality economy is tied to group activity more than any other city in the nation. The steady stream of groups has kept downtown businesses afloat so far.
“The process of [the NCAA tournament] coming, and vaccinations coming, we feel like we are going to be hitting our stride,” adds JW Marriott General Manager Phil Ray, “Back half of the year, we fully expect things to get better. The number of NCAA teams are dropping, but because it’s not full capacity, there will be more hotel room availability. Even the Final Four, we are not sold out yet, which you can get rooms for $200 this coming weekend or less.”
Last weekend the J.W. Marriott was one of the “bubble hotels” for players in the tournament but is open to the public now. As other Indy restaurants have noted during food deliveries to the hotel, the NCAA tournament players can eat multiple meals at once. The player’s appetites had the JW Marriott’s culinary staff working long hours. The hotel made almost half of its revenue last weekend on food alone.