WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – Hotels at New Hanover County beach towns have been enjoying unprecedented demand this summer, allowing them to charge the highest room rates this area has ever seen.
Over the last few weeks, WECT has seen hotel rooms going for as much as $900 a night in Wrightsville Beach, and $600 a night in Carolina Beach.
Even at those prices, rooms have been selling out.
“Overall, the weekend was phenomenal,” Holiday Inn Sunspree General Manager Tom Cook told WECT following the Fourth of July holiday. “Glad to see folks coming back. People are ready to travel.”
Many people had Monday off since Independence Day fell on a Sunday this year, so the Sunspree was still packed early Monday afternoon. While the weather on Friday leading into the weekend was a bit of a washout, the weather for the rest of the weekend was fantastic and helped businesses all across our area take advantage of the influx of visitors.
“It’s probably the initial rush of folks who have been cooped up for a year and a half and just trying to get out the door and spend some time with their families, who many of them haven’t seen each other for 18 plus months. So I think that the initial demand that we saw moving from Spring Break to all the way through Memorial Day was where the big push was,” Cook said.
After a rough year where many hotels had to close for a time during the pandemic, seeing prices recover — and then some — has been a huge boost for local hotels.
Now that the initial rush has leveled off, prices appear to have capped, and are coming back down closer to peak season prices that were more typical before the pandemic. Room rates at prime hotels in Wrightsville Beach are going for around $500 per night on weekends later this month.
Industry experts say stimulus and unemployment money that has been pumped into the economy put extra cash in people’s pockets, and likely helped push the demand and room prices higher than anything this area had seen before.
“Hotels including this one, they were closed at one point during the early stages of the pandemic. It’s definitely helping with the rebound,” Cook said. “I don’t know if you ever recuperate all those losses but I think it’s definitely had an impact as travel comes back and we start seeing those rate increases.”
Cook added that as COVID-19 cases declined in North Carolina and Governor Cooper began easing restrictions, they’ve also been able to host conventions again, which is increasing demand for their rooms. The Sunspree had two conventions in the month of June, and another two planned in the next few weeks.
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