New Albany's first hotel open for business
New Albany's first hotel opened last month and is fully booked May 10 and 11 for a youth soccer event in the city.
"We're very happy with the results," said Jody Zitsman, director of sales for the new Courtyard by Marriott in New Albany. "It takes time to ramp up a new hotel. We're very happy with the way business is booking."
The hotel on Forest Drive opened April 18. It has 122 rooms, 11 of which are specialized suites.
The weekend of May 10 and 11 is full because of weddings, business meetings and the Junior Cup, a soccer tournament for boys and girls ages 8 to 12 sponsored by the New Albany Youth Soccer League, Zitsman said. The Junior Cup is sold out and will be held May 11 and 12 at Bevelhymer Park.
The hotel employs 33 full- and part-time employees and will contribute income-tax and bed-tax funds to the city.
Bed taxes are forwarded by the state to municipalities for use in marketing campaigns and other attempts to attract visitors.
An agreement approved by New Albany City Council in May 2011 specifies that the city will keep half of the money collected from the 6-percent bed tax. The other half will be used by the hotel to market itself.
Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany's community development director, said if the hotel is 65 percent occupied throughout the year and averages a $140 per-night rate, the city will collect $249,000 from bed taxes annually.
As part of the bed-tax sharing agreement, the New Albany Chamber of Commerce launched a tourism task force, which will help spend the city's half of the bed-tax funds collected.
The task force first met April 23.
Members include: Eileen Leuby, president of the chamber; Dave Wharton, director of New Albany Parks and Recreation; Zitsman and Sari Linkus, the hotel manager; Jeannie Thorne, human resources director for the local travel company TS24; Mike Durik, a chamber board member; Jason Koma, director of public affairs for the Mount Carmel Health System; David Demers, a New Albany attorney and New Albany Parks and Recreation board member; Katherine Elliott, owner of Tailfeathers Boutique on Market Street; and Scott McAfee, spokesman for New Albany.
Leuby said at the first meeting, members agreed to compile a list of attractions and a calendar of events that can be marketed.
The group will meet again at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, at the hotel.