By Abi Cole
Weaverville – The first corporate hotel in the Town of Weaverville opened on September 3rd at 25 Fairfield Approach Drive. The freshly inaugurated Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is adjacent to Ingles and Bojangles on Weaver Boulevard. Amenities include a fitness facility, indoor pool, and complimentary breakfast and parking.
The hotel is owned by Crown Hotel & Travel Management, a third-party management company with properties throughout the Carolinas. The company operates and franchises hotels under several brands, including Marriott, Hilton, IGH, and Wyndham.
Barry Eagle, President/CEO of Crown Hotel & Travel Management of the new Fairfield Inn & Suites, expressed excitement in a press release about the hotel opening. “This is our first hotel in western North Carolina and we’re looking forward to becoming a part of the community in Weaverville as the town’s first hotel.”
But this is not Weaverville’s first lodging spot. The town has many longstanding bed & breakfasts that may see a decline in bookings with the introduction of the hotel.
“I think in general it’s going to affect the business negatively,” said Howard Dusenbery, longtime owner of Dry Ridge Inn in Weaverville. “The entire Asheville area, we’ve had literally thousands of overnight accommodations added to the mix over the last couple of years and there’s several hundred more online coming in the next 6-8 months.”
Asheville has seen a drastic influx of new hotels as more tourists flock to “The Land of the Sky.” US News’ Travel Guide ranks the city as the #1 ‘Best Fall Vacation’ in North America.
The arrival of new hotels and thousands of tourists to fill them has created a zoning problem in the city. The City of Asheville has found that “The city currently lacks concrete policies, strategies and tools to effectively manage or regulate hotels,” in a 2019 Hotel Development Study. Since 2015, 1,344 hotel rooms have opened in the city out of the 2,761 total rooms that have been approved, according to the report. Heavy clustering of hotels in Downtown Asheville, impact on properties adjacent to the buildings and lower than average wages paid by hotel employers are of chief concern.
In response, a one-year moratorium was placed on hotel development in September 2019. As the year runs up this month, Asheville’s Planning and Zoning Commission met virtually on September 2nd to discuss how the city will move forward. Development recommendations presented included creating zones where hotels may be built according to their size, forming a design review board and making sure that hotels are not hindering the surrounding community. No concrete decisions were made, but the Commission will again discuss the plan at its September 23rd meeting.
The Fairfield Inn & Suites’ Weaverville location is not effected by the moratorium, as the property is in Weaverville and under the town’s development ordinances and not Asheville’s. To celebrate the grand opening, Fairfield Inn & Suites Asheville Weaverville is having a giveaway. The prize includes a two-night stay and up to four tickets to the Biltmore Estate and a $50 gift card to Twisted Laurel. To enter, like their Facebook posts about the promotion, fill out this form: https://www.crownhoteltm.com/fairfield-inn-suites-asheville-weaverville-grand-opening-giveaway/ and follow Fairfield Inn & Suites Asheville Weaverville on Facebook.Entries close Monday, September 28th at 5 pm and the winner will be announced via Facebook live on September 30th, 2020.
A decrease in travel as a result of COVID-19 presents challenges for both corporate hotels and mon-and-pop hotels and BNBs. From April 1st to June 30th of this year, Marriott lost $234 million dollars in revenue. The corporation earned $232 in the same three months a year ago. But locally-owned bed & breakfasts have seen a decline in bookings for years. “In the last five years being full on the weekend for us is just not happening for us anymore, and that’s pre-COVID,” said Dusenbery.