Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Business Slow at Area Hotels, Convention Sites

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Business Slow at Area Hotels, Convention Sites

Article excerpt

Byline: Earl Daniels, Times-Union business writer

With the exception of a few guests checking in or dining at one of the hotel's restaurants yesterday, business at the Adam's Mark hotel was slow.

"The story here is consistent with what is going on at many hotels in this industry," said Irving Kass, the general manager of Adam's Mark hotel at 225 E. Coastline Drive.

Adam's Mark officials would not specify how much business the hotel has lost.

Local hotel operators have seen a significant decrease in leisure and business travel since last week's terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Meeting and convention plans also were canceled or postponed, as people concerned about airline safety curtailed travel.

To try to compensate, hoteliers plan to go after more local and regional business in an effort to attract travelers who are able to drive to the Jacksonville area or, in some cases, take a short plane ride to get here.

"The group business and leisure travel has literally dried up, and that is across the board," said George Fetherston, president of the Jacksonville Hotel-Motel Association and general manager at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach.

To adjust to the downturn, the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel at 1515 Prudential Drive has cut back on some of its employees' hours, said Joe Hockenbury, general manager at the Radisson Riverwalk.

Hockenbury said the drop in business is having a more drastic impact in Jacksonville because September is traditionally a slow month, with hotels averaging a 65 percent occupancy.

"Any hotel would be happy to hit 50 percent occupancy," he said.

Hockenbury said last night a group event helped to boost the hotel's occupancy to 63 percent.

He said downtown hotels should fare well this weekend with football fans spending the night for the Jacksonville Jaguars-Tennessee Titans football game Sunday at Alltel Stadium.

Across the river at the Adam's Mark yesterday, about 160 members of a U. …

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