The Courtyard Marriott -- the first hotel to be built in the downtown Columbus-Phenix City area in decades -- is cruising toward a late August or early September opening, with rates for mid-October already on the Marriott reservation site.
Starting Oct. 12, a Sunday, the regular refundable rate for a king-bed room starts at $129 per night, topping out at $189 for a "Romance" or "Family Movie" package suite with two queen beds.
The next night, Oct. 13, the starting refundable rate for the king room jumps to $169, topping out at $229 for the queen suite and family movie package. It also is more likely to be a night when a corporate traveler stays there.
"I think $169 is a good price for a hotel of this caliber, especially on weekdays when we have our corporate Marriott travelers," said Matt Patel, vice president of operations at RAM Hotels, the Columbus-based company building the 99-room property at a cost of $12 million.
Patel said the room rates -- called "dynamic pricing" -- come from doing a market study and evaluating competitive properties in the area around the hotel. Guests can expect to pay a premium rate on weeknights, with prices dropping considerably on weekends when leisure travelers are more likely to be visiting the city.
In comparison, the Marriott reservation site on Friday showed the downtown Marriott on Front Avenue in Columbus charging $189 for a king or two double beds and $225 for a king-bed parlor room for both Oct. 12 and 13.
Patel said the Courtyard Marriott is on pace to open no later than the first week of September, with the reservation window moving closer as the precise date materializes.
"Everything is good and moving along," he said of the construction process that soon will see furnishings being placed in the rooms. "We're installing carpet this week. The outside is pretty close to complete now. So the inside is next Everything is ordered. It's a matter of getting everything in and getting it installed."
The Courtyard is part of a construction zone in Phenix City, with work on a new Troy University building steadily moving toward completion in time for summer classes a year from now. Montgomery, Ala.-based Bear Brothers Construction is the general contractor for the 44,000-square-foot structure that is the first of two phases.
Just across from the 1400 Third Ave. Courtyard, Phenix City last week started moving earth for a two-story parking deck that will have just over 200 spaces. Each floor will have its own entrance, the covered bottom level from Third Avenue and the exposed upper level from Fifth Avenue.
"This parking garage will serve as public access to future shopping, whitewater rafting, overflow for the hotel, Troy University and other developments as they are created," according to the "Positively Phenix City!" website. "This garage is designed to have a very prominent corner at Third Avenue and 14th Street, with signage opportunities and a unique exposed stairwell which also acts as an observation deck."
The other piece of the redevelopment puzzle is the anticipated major renovation of Phenix Plaza, a shopping center at the corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street now anchored by a Piggly Wiggly supermarket and Family Dollar store. Columbus-based W.C. Bradley Co. bought the property 18 months ago from Montgomery, Ala.-based real-estate firm Aronov, paying $4.5 million.
Mat Swift, president of W.C. Bradley's real estate division, initially said the timing for redevelopment would include a six- to nine-month study to determine what types of businesses would work best at the center. The thought was a restaurant or two might be a good fit.
But the project has languished as work on the nearby hotel and university building proceeded. Swift was on vacation last week and could not be reached for comment.
There will be at least one restaurant in the immediate vicinity, said Patel. Courtyard's own "bistro," which will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, will be open to non-guests, he said.
The Marriott site for the hotel does list several local dining options for those staying there. They include Country's Barbecue, The Black Cow, Downstairs at the Loft, Mike & Ed's BBQ, Chili Thai, El Vaquero, Cannon Brew Pub and Iron Bank Coffee.
"Local attractions" on the Courtyard's website include whitewater rafting, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, Springer Opera House, National Civil War Naval Museum, Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Woodruff Farm Soccer Complex, Fort Benning, Columbus Museum, Golden Park at South Commons and the National Infantry Museum.
While Patel believes the Courtyard Marriott in Phenix City will thrive on corporate travel, calling it the hotel's "bread and butter," the close proximity to Columbus and the hotel's perch near the Chattahoochee River should help diversify business.
"Since we have the conference center in here, I think we're going to do pretty well with groups," he said. "And we'll probably do better with leisure, too. That's where the whitewater and everything comes in, and so does Fort Benning."