To say Savannah is growing is an understatement. Over the last few years, there’s been a resurgence in Georgia’s First City. With nearly 13.7 million visitors vacationing in Savannah annually and an occupancy rate of about 75 percent in 2015, the hotel industry continues to expand. In the Savannah 2017 Economic Trends, the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce predicted the leisure and hospitality sector keep strengthening.
“Savannah’s growth prospects are among the best in the nation,” Jeffrey Humphreys, the director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth, wrote in The Georgia Outlook for 2017. “Visitors are drawn to the thriving Historic District and waterfront developments. Hotel development has been and will continue to be very strong in 2017.”
As of March 2017, there are at least seven developments underway, as far as hotels go, with a handful of others currently in talks and the planning stages. Here’s a look at some of the alluring accommodations coming to Savannah in the upcoming years:
West Elm Hotel
Location: 607 Drayton St.
Opening: Late 2018/Early 2019
The popular high-end home accessory retailer, West Elm, is taking a dive into the boutique hotel business and with its five hotels opening in the United States is a location in Savannah.
“West Elm intentionally targeted mid-size cities with rich histories and vibrant communities. Savannah is a perfect fit,” Peter Fowler, West Elm’s VP of hospitality and workspace, said. “With easy access to Savannah’s best restaurants, museums and waterfront, Forsyth Park is the heart of the Historic District of Savannah. With the opening of West Elm HOTELS, we’ll work to curate a local and immersive experience for our guests within each of our communities.”
The future home of the four-story, 150- to 175-room West Elm Hotel in Savannah is at Drayton Street and East Huntingdon Street, across from Forsyth Park near the Savannah Law School. West Elm aims for each property to be unique and are in the process of discussing possible names for the properties inspired by their surroundings and history.
Location: 512 W. Oglethorpe Ave.
Opening: August 2018
HOS Management isn’t slowing down. After opening the Fairfield Inn & Suites in January 2017, they broke ground for Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ new six-story Aloft hotel at MLK, Jr. Boulevard and Oglethorpe Avenue
Aloft Hotels are known for their clean, contemporary architecture. With 135 rooms, this new hotel in Savannah will feature an WXYZ® bar and lounge, a grab-and-go café, not to mention a swimming pool. The pet-friendly property will even have its own mini-dog park as the brand prides itself on offering guests a modern, fresh and fun destination celebrating individuality, innovative design and style.
“We’re so excited to introduce the energy of the Aloft brand and its vibrant social scene to Savannah,” Kris Patel, a second-generation partner and CFO at HOS Management, said. “With its unique social and tech-driven amenities and competitive price point, we believe the Aloft brand will resonate with travelers coming into the area.”
Location: 321 Montgomery St.
HOS Management is also working on the new 103-room Cambria hotel & suites, with the help of Dawson Architects. Cambria is known for their spacious lobbies, oversized rooms featuring flexible spaces and for boasting the latest technology, and is currently experiencing a phase of accelerated growth, with new properties under construction in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago and Philadelphia.
“Expanding to a city like Savannah made perfect sense. With the growth of Savannah and our hotel’s location in the heart of the Historic District, the property is ideal for people traveling to the city on business or for leisure. It is within walking distance from world-class shopping, dining, museums and entertainment,” a Choice Hotels spokesperson said.
Like other Cambria hotels & suites, the Savannah location will feature fine amenities, such as a contemporary bistro and a barista bar, as well as off-street parking with valet service. Cambria guests can also take advantage their loyalty program, Choice Privileges, which can get guests free nights and Amazon.com, Starbucks, Uber and Shell rewards earned on mid-week stays, as well as souvenir coasters and a free drink upon check-in.
Perry Lane Hotel
Location: 256 E. Perry St.
Opening: Late 2017/Early 2018
If you’ve been to Chippewa Square, the Savannah Theatre or “Fancy Parkers” on Drayton Street, then you may have noticed the huge construction project right behind Drayton Tower. This is soon to be the Perry Lane Hotel, which will feature 168 guest rooms, a pool, meeting rooms and a rooftop events space.
This boutique hotel will consist of two individual buildings and a high-end experience for visitors, with upscale dining and retail options. The Perry Lane Hotel will welcome guests with an airy streetscape and lobby saturated in southern flair—from the porch and parlor feel to the grand fireplaces, antiques and décor. Flank Inc., the owners of Drayton Tower, is heading the development of the hotel, working with Hansen Architects and AvroKO on the design of the hotel, while Dash Design works on the restaurant’s interior and Nine Dot on choosing and acquiring art.
The Alida hotel at 412 Williamson
Location: 412 Williamson St.
Opening: July 2017
With so much popularity, it comes as no surprise that River Street is gaining its own collection of new hotels. The first is the seven-story, 173-guest room property designed by Savannah-based Gunn Meyerhoff Shay Architects, which will be a part of the Starwood Tribute Portfolio.
Developed by the Ohio-based Rockbridge Capital LLC, this luxurious new accommodation will span an entire block on River Street and feature 82 double king rooms, 66 kings and 25 king suites, as well as 4,000 square feet of meeting space, a signature restaurant, rooftop event space and bar, fitness area, pool and lobby bar. To accommodate this expansion of the area around West River Street, a new grand entranceway will also be built to River Street providing pedestrians with an easier, safer way to access to the riverfront.
Plant Riverside District: JW Marriott
Location: West River Street
An even larger development is taking place across the street, on the riverside of West River Street. The Kessler Collection, which also owns The Mansion Forsyth Park and Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront on Bay Street, is transforming the abandoned power plant and surrounding industrial zone into a complex complete with 20,000 square feet of retail, ballrooms, meeting space and a live entertainment venue, anchored by a JW Marriott hotel. This $270 million, 670,000 square-foot development has been dubbed the “Plant Riverside District” and will be spread across five buildings.
“The 419-room JW Marriott will introduce a world-renowned luxury hotel product not currently served in the Savannah market,” Mark Kessler, President and COO of Kessler Collection Design & Development, said. “This quality of large scaled luxury hotel development is anticipated to induce demand by attracting guests (business and leisure) not currently considering Savannah as a destination. The JW Marriott is the only hotel in the development and will be spread across five different buildings with three individual themes, but all under the JW Marriott flag.”
While Plant Riverside East is inspired by a natural science museum, Plant Riverside West will have a nautical theme, with sweeping views of the Savannah River. The other three buildings will have a French feel, with plush and romantic rooms. Inside these buildings, guests will find everything from restaurants and retail space to large ballrooms and concert venues, art galleries, dramatic rooftop bars and a complete expansion of the riverwalk Savannah is known for.
“Residents, visitors and hotel guests will be able to experience an entertainment district along Savannah’s treasured riverfront, which will include 4.5 acres of new public spaces, and extend the city’s public river walk by more than 1,000 linear feet,” Kessler said. “Parks, plazas and public event spaces will be interwoven and spatially defined by the regenerated power plant and other mixed-use urban infill, creating a network of connected plazas linking the river to the center city.”
Lark Hotels’ Savannah Property
Location: 401 Habersham St.
Just a few blocks away, on Bay and Habersham streets, Lark Hotels is taking on a smaller, more intimate project: a 55-room, four-story hotel with two entrances and a valet drop-off along Habersham Street. The project is bringing a much needed revitalization to this block along Bay Street with the restoration and preservation of the two adjacent buildings, which will feature an open air courtyard, lobby space and future high end restaurant. The Massachusetts-based company is making its debut in the southern scene with this new property. Each estate in Lark Hotels’ collection of inns in Maine and New Hampshire and boutique hotels in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and California has its own personality radiantly displayed in the design and décor, layout and name. It’s no doubt this flair will flourish in the coming hotel in the Hostess City of the South.
“Savannah is one of the South’s premier iconic destinations, rich in creativity, history and coastal beauty. These components are what many Lark Hotels’ locales have in common and we are excited to bring our approach to Georgia. The unique properties in our collection all embrace the locations they are in, yet in playful, unexpected ways,” Lark’s Chief Inspiration Officer Dawn Hagin said. “We see Savannah as a community that will support this approach and help us to thrive, just as we intend to help attract more modern travelers to Savannah as a whole.”
More to Come
The Liberty Hotel
In February 2017, the Savannah Historic Review Board approved a 8,400-square-feet hotel to be built located across from the Savannah Civic Center. This hotel, which has been dubbed The Liberty Hotel, is being designed by Lynch Associates Architects and would sit across form Frali Gourmet and the Savannah Coffee Roasters. The projected opening is in the summer of 2019.
President Street Property
Across town, another hotel might just be on its way to President Street, out near Truman Parkway. This past winter, Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission submitted a Development of Regional Impact application to build the 645-room hotel with 685 parking space at 1147 E. President St with the help of HD Companies US Inc. of Pooler, Ga, at an estimate of $250 million.
Convention Hotel on Hutchinson Island
There may even be a new hotel out on Hutchinson Island in the next few years, as The Georgia International and Maritime Trade Center Authority has begun the pre-development process with Atlanta-based hotel developer Songy Highroads and Omni Hotels. This hotel will have somewhere from 300 to 500 rooms and help support and attract new conventions to Savannah.