SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

August 1, 2012

Filling up fast

Salem hotels are bustling, and it's not even October

SALEM — Earlier this year, the Hawthorne Hotel had to deal with dozens of flooded rooms due to a broken water pipe, and in recent weeks, the city has been working feverishly to patch a sinkhole on the street near its front entrance.

However, these obstacles have not kept guests from flooding in to the historic hotel, its general manager says, and it’s not even October.

“It’s up enough to catch our notice,” general manager Juli Lederhaus said when asked about occupancy rates so far this summer.

If hotel occupancy is any indicator, it’s looking like a busy summer for Salem’s tourism industry.

The Salem Waterfront Hotel on Pickering Wharf is seeing an increase in its occupancy rate over last year, general manager Bill Carroll said.

“Occupancy is up this year,” Carroll said, “which we are excited about from our hotel’s perspective. We have seen an increase in traffic to Pickering Wharf, which means increased traffic for us.”

In the winter, the Hawthorne was forced to make extensive and expensive repairs after a burst pipe in the attic during a remodeling project poured the equivalent of an Olympic-sized swimming pool down six floors, Lederhaus said. Almost 50 rooms in the 93-room hotel had to close for several weeks until the hotel was able to fully reopen in April. The hotel has also had to contend with the city making repairs to a sinkhole at Hawthorne Boulevard and Essex Street.

Despite these challenges, Lederhaus said the hotel is bustling, and it’s not even the time when hundreds of thousands of tourists descend on Witch City for Haunted Happenings.

“July’s numbers are incredible, and it is looking like the rest of the summer will follow suit,” Lederhaus said. She said lower gas prices, a pent-up desire to take a vacation and the wish to stay close to home have helped tourists fill rooms. People are arriving from Canada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York, she said. Those guests she has spoken with have wanted to come to Salem for a while, while others are repeat visitors.

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