OCEAN CITY, Md. — Vacationers looking to grab some beach time in Ocean City will find more hotel options than in years past. And those staying in the Maryland resort town will find the cost of hotel room the same as last year — even cheaper than six years ago, once inflation is factored in.
“What we’ve seen over the last five years is the addition of about 1,000 new hotel rooms in the community,” said Bill Neville, planning director for the Town of Ocean City.
Two major hotel chains — Marriott and Radisson — opened new new hotels in the Maryland resort town this year. A third chain, Hyatt, is making its first foray into Ocean City. And Hilton completed a multimillion renovation of a DoubleTree hotel and plans to open a Home2 Suites hotel in 2018.
Ocean City, which attracts 8 million visitors a summer, now has roughly 10,000 hotel rooms available, Neville said, adding that the boom in hotel building came as permits for new housing dropped off in 2008.
Other hotels are slated to open in 2019.
“Within a community that is largely built out — 97 percent of our land area is built out — this is a story about redevelopment and reinvention of what the community needs,” Neville said.
WHAT’S NEW IN 2018?
“There’s been a lot of outside investment in Ocean City with the hotels. The hotels have been very, very hot recently,” said Joe Wilson, a realtor who sits on the town planning board.
The oceanfront DoubleTree by Hilton, five blocks from the boardwalk, reopened in June after completing a multimillion renovation that included fully updated guest rooms and a complete makeover of the lobby. The hotel on 33rd Street is owned and managed by the Harrison Group, which oversees 14 hotels and is Ocean City’s largest employer.
The Residence Inn off 61st Street, managed by Vienna, Virginia-based Palmer-Gosnell Hospitality, is the third Marriott property to open in Ocean City.
“The Marriott name has such an appeal to travelers,” said Susan L. Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association. “It really opens up a whole new market because there are Marriott travelers who live, breathe and sleep Marriott, so they want to go to destinations where they can use their points.”
The hotel industry, Jones said, is giving Ocean City vacationers what they want — breathing room. Many of the new hotels, like the Country Inn & Suites, are built with kitchenettes so guests can make light meals.
“Today’s visitor likes to have space. It’s not like the traditional mom and pop that came here 50 years ago. They had a room with two beds and they were OK with that,” Jones said.
The location of the Country Inn & Suites near the 58-acre Northside Park will be able to take advantage of Ocean City’s growing sports tourism industry, she said. The park regularly hosts softball and baseball games, as well as soccer tournaments.
“If you have a team that is playing at Northside Park, that’s a good option,” Jones said.
“There is a big push to market to sports groups because they are more of a year-round group. That is something the city is really working on trying to get these year-round sporting groups and competitions, like the cheerleaders and lacrosse tournaments,” she said.
HOTELS OPENING LATER THIS YEAR
The Hyatt Place at 16th Street and the boardwalk, still under-construction, is taking reservations. The 105-room Hyatt replaces the two-story, 1950s-era Seascape motel.
Scheduled to open in October is the 100-room Home2 Suites by Hilton. The bayside hotel at 67th Street is not yet taking reservations.
The good news for people staying in hotels is that the cost of staying in Ocean City has not gone up.
The average daily rate for a hotel room in Ocean City was $128.51 a night in May, according to STR, a data and analytics specialist, which released the May data for Ocean City late last week.
That cost was up 2.6 percent, or $3.20 a night higher than May 2017, but when you account for inflation, a hotel room in Ocean City the same cost as a year ago.
When comparing May costs, data from STR show the average daily room rate has risen $8.71 since May 2012. The May 2012 cost of $119.08 a night would be the equivalent of $131.15 in May 2018.
Occupancy in Ocean City hotels was at 58 percent, down 6.0 percent in May 2018 compared with May 2017. Rainy weather may have contributed to the drop.
Of course, the cost of a hotel room goes up significantly during the summer, as does occupancy.
Here are how average daily room rates and occupancy for last summer, according to STR:
- June 2017 — $168.27 per night, occupancy at 74.9 percent
- July 2017 — $213.10 per night, occupancy at 81.6 percent
- August 2017 — $202.94 per night, occupancy at 80.8 percent
LAST YEAR’S NEW HOTEL ADDITIONS
New hotel openings and renovations in 2018 follow on the heels of other hotel openings last year.
Marriott opened a bayside Fairfield Inn & Suites between 25th and 26th streets along Philadelphia Avenue, in June 2017. The 120-room hotel sits on the former home of the Misty Harbor Motel.
The Monte Carlo Suites also opened on 11th Street at the oceanfront.
Crystal Beach Hotel on the boardwalk at 25th Street added 63 rooms.
FUTURE OCEAN CITY HOTELS
Under construction now is a new 120-room hotel at the site of the old 45th Street Village. Bluewater Development plans to open the Starwood/Marriott brand Aloft Ocean City in 2019.
Ground has been broken for the Cambria Hotel at 1st Street bayside. The 133-room Choice Hotels property will overlook the Isle of Wight Bay and will be easily seen from the U.S. 50 bridge coming into Ocean City.
OTHER DEVELOPMENT AROUND OCEAN CITY
Visitors to Ocean City also will see a couple of smaller additions around town.
Tapping into the popularity of Northside Park is Starbucks, which opened a drive-thru location on Coastal Highway at 123rd Street. It’s the third Starbucks in the Ocean City area. Starbucks has other location inside Ocean City on Baltimore Avenue and a West Ocean City location on U.S. 50 before you come into town.
The new Starbucks is part of the recently redeveloped UpTown Center. The shopping center added 5,173 square feet of retail. The shopping center already houses the Quiet Storm surf shop, Justine’s Ice Cream and the new Tailchasers Restaurant. Tailchasers, formerly the Parched Pelican, sits on a canalfront, and is part of the popular Off the Hook Restaurant group that has locations in Ocean City and lower Delaware.
Another new development is a shopping center at 78th Street, the site of a K-Coast Surf Shop that was torn down last year. The 8,073 square feet of construction includes a new restaurant, retail shops and offices. The shops in the center have yet to be rented.
“Every time you are building a new construction building, you’re putting money into builders’ pockets, all their carpenters, all the suppliers, realtors, title companies, mortgage lenders. There is just so many people who are involved in the process that it really is beneficial for the economy,” said Wilson.
Grace Masten, owner-broker of Sea Grace at North Beach Realty, said the changes are positive. She said they indicate Ocean City is becoming more of a year-round town.
“We’re seeing a lot of development. It looks as though the town is getting away from your typical T-shirt and Sun Glass Hut-type shops. We’ve got some really good restaurants, really good shops that are being built.Commercial-wise, commercial businesses are really picking up too. And. I’m hoping that’s an indication in the value people see coming to Ocean City, making it more year-round,” Masten said.
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