Photo above: A 12-room addition to the Beaufort Inn is arising on Craven Street. Photo by Bob Sofaly.
By Lisa Allen
In a race to snag overnight guests, developers are building more than 300 hotel rooms in Beaufort. They include:
• Springhill Suites: 111 rooms (replacing the 70-room EconoLodge) at 2227 Boundary St. The building permit is under building codes review.
• Home2 Suites by Hilton: 107 rooms at 3658 Trask Parkway. The site plan has been permitted and the building permit is under building codes review.
• Tru by Hilton: 90 rooms. This hotel would be just east of the Home2 Suites. The design review is complete but the builders haven’t applied for the building permit.
• Downtown Hotel: 77 rooms at the southwest corner of Scott and Port Republic streets (812 Scott/214 Port Republic). It is undergoing Historic Review Board review.
• A 12-room addition to the Beaufort Inn on Craven Street.
“What’s interesting is that two of hotels are for extended stays,” said Robb Wells, vice president of tourism for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. “They are catering to a new customer.”
Wells said demand for Beaufort hotel rooms has soared 25 percent in the past four years while supply hasn’t budged.
Several factors are fueling interest in Beaufort.
One is a concerted effort by the U.S. Marine Corps to lower the overall age of its force. That means more recruits, which means more families attending recruit graduation.
For each male graduate, an average of eight friends and family members attend graduation. For female graduates, 12 to 14 people attend.
Also, Beaufort is getting quite the reputation, Wells said.
“As Beaufort continues to attract attention in national publications, more people are treating us as a destination rather than just a day trip from Hilton Head or Charleston. People are spending a couple of days here,” he said.
“The intent of people’s stay is changing. That’s why you’re seeing hotels from Hilton and Marriott. We are drawing their customers.”