From the Hewing to the Radisson Red, hotel after hotel is being proposed for downtown Minneapolis.
The first of many new hotels downtown, four in total, are hitting the market this fall. While local leaders say there was pent-up demand in the local hospitality industry, there’s also concern, including from Council Member Jacob Frey who represents much of downtown Minneapolis, that developers may be overbuilding in preparation for big events like the Super Bowl in 2018 and the Final Four game in 2019.
“I’m thrilled with the influx of new hotel operators. There was demand and it was needed, but we’re also trying to prepare for a future well beyond [the Super Bowl],” he told The Journal.
“I’m all for party planning, but you also have to clean up in the morning when the party is finished.”
In October and November, the Hewing Hotel (124 rooms), the AC Hotel by Marriott (245 rooms), Embassy Suites by Hilton (290 rooms), Radisson Red (164 rooms) and the tiny hotel at Restaurant Alma (seven rooms) are beginning to open. Right now, Meet Minneapolis, the city’s convention and visitor association, is tracking more than 2,400 rooms across the Twin Cities in various states of development, according to Brent Foerster, senior vice president of destination sales and services. That’s on top of the roughly 7,800 rooms spread across downtown.
But why now? As the economy bounces back, occupancy is on the rise, businesses are relocating downtown and activity generators like U.S. Bank Stadium are now open. Foerster said hotel developers are looking at occupancy (the rule of thumb is usually about 70 percent), revenue per available room (Minneapolis has been relatively high, he said) and demand generators (things like stadiums and companies moving downtown).
While international events may draw tens of thousands to the Twin Cities, Foerster said, they don’t keep hotels open. What a group like Meet Minneapolis can do is leverage the public relations and prestige of high-profile events to get even more visitors and leisure travel.
“When you get a Super Bowl and a Final Four, these naturally come with international media, PR and exposure that’s going to touch people that quite honestly with all the marketing dollars in the world we couldn’t touch,” he said. “But they are only a week out of the year. We have 51 other weeks in the year to sell too.
Meet Minneapolis, which markets the Minneapolis Convention Center, has many more mid-level and small events going on throughout the year that keep hotels booked. Next year, for example, the city will host the ESPN X Games, estimated to draw nearly 36,000 people, and USA Volleyball’s 2017 Girls’ Junior National Championships, expected to bring in nearly 50,000 people. Then there are even less high-profile events, like the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association, estimated to bring in 6,500 attendees, and an annual conference of the American Homebrewers Association with 5,000 expected guests.
Many new hotels are including meeting and short-term convention spaces for guests. Embassy Suites by Hilton has about 12,600 square feet of meeting space. The Hewing offers the small Andrews Ballroom for up to 250 people.
These new brands coming to downtown Minneapolis are also small and more diverse. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has opened the country’s first Radisson Red hotel a couple blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium. The five-story hotel is designed to attract young and the young-at-heart by breaking down the regular hotel experience. There’s a food truck-inspired restaurant, bean bag chairs in the lobby lounge and an app so guests can check in or order room service from their phones.
On the other side of downtown, the Hewing is taking a food-forward approach by attracting guests with chef-driven restaurant Tullibee. The restaurant, led by Food & Wine magazine’s 2015 Best New Chef Grae Nonas, is now open.
“There’s not a monolithic product that’s being offered. There is a lot of diversity that will continue to appeal to a lot of different travellers and visitors who have their own preferences about the hotel experience they want to have in Minneapolis,” said Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District.
Several more hotels are on the drawing board, including the 165-room Elliot in Elliot Park, a 153-room Marriott Moxy and a 182-room Canopy by Hilton in Downtown East, and a new 120-room hotel concept from furniture retailer West Elm in the North Loop.
And the city is preparing for it. Meet Minneapolis is in the process of developing a Tourism Master Plan, which it expects to release at an annual meeting next March, a spokeswoman said. Cramer said the plan will identify goals to maintain and build the local tourism and hospitality industries.
Hotels opening in downtown Minneapolis
Hotel developer Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group isn’t shy about the fact that its new brand is for young travelers, or at least those with an “ageless millennial mindset.” There’s no front desk or general manager. Instead, there’s a check-in app, “creatives” and a “curator” to tend to your needs and even digital wall where guests can find the city’s hippest restaurants and take a selfie.
609 3rd St. S.
Amenities: RED app for check-in and room service, OUIBar + KITCHN, 1,000 square feet of event space, fitness center, skyway connection
The state’s first AC Hotel by Marriott hotel has opened at the corner of Hennepin & 9th. The nine-story hotel’s breakfast-focused kitchen offers French croissants and the specialty at the bar is a uniquely presented gin and tonic. The brand is European-inspired down to the square toilets and tapas menu.
401 Hennepin Ave.
Amenities: AC Lounge, AC Kitchen, a library, a fitness center, 1,500 square feet of meeting space
The Plymouth Building has returned to life with a $110-million Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel. The 12-story, skyway-connected hotel has 220 two-room suites and 70 one-room suites, and is the first Embassy Suites by Hilton property in downtown Minneapolis. Guests can take advantage of a free two-hour reception in the evening and can enjoy a made-to-order breakfast overlooking the adjacent Bob Dylan mural.
12 6th St. S.
Indoor pool, lobby bar, convenience store, fitness center, guest laundry, 12,600 square feet of meeting space, 24-hour business center, skyway connection
The North Loop’s 1897 Jackson building, a former farm equipment showroom, has become the neighborhood’s second hotel. The Hewing Hotel is another restaurant-driven property from Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group with the Nordic-focused Tullibee. The Hewing is also bringing rooftop dining to the North Loop with a bar, sauna and pool for guests, members and the public.
300 Washington Ave. N.
Amenities: Tullibee, rooftop pool, sauna and bar, fitness center, yoga studio, nearly 4,000 square feet of meeting space
5th Avenue & 9th Street
811 Washington Ave. S.
Canopy by Hilton
700 S. 3rd St.