Hotel officials expect rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn Mayfaire Town Center and other lodging establishments to be scarce this weekend because of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Eagle Point and other events. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
Some hotel rooms were still available in the Wilmington area as of Thursday, but at a higher price than usual as the city prepares for a blockbuster weekend in terms of visitor numbers.
The Wells Fargo Golf Championship golf tournament at Eagle Point, University of North Carolina Wilmington graduation ceremonies and a convention for Wilmington-filmed TV show One Tree Hill are among the events bringing thousands of people in need of accommodations to the Port City as the first week of May winds to a close.
At the same time, hotel room bookings were a little disappointing for the beginning of this week, some local hotel officials said. The Wells Fargo Championship event started May 1 with practice and professional-amateur rounds and a typically lighter crowd, while Round 1 began Thursday.
"I think everybody was just really hoping to be sold out every day this week," said Nicole Jones, general manager of the Courtyard Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach.
As for the weekend for her hotel, Jones said on Thursday morning, "We're close [to being full], but we still have rooms available."
A hotel at Mayfaire had a similar situation.
"I would say we were not 100 percent occupancy during the week. We didn’t fill up like we thought we would, but still, it’s a decent occupancy rate so that’s good for this week," said Alice Cox, sales coordinator for the Hilton Garden Inn Wilmington Mayfaire Town Center. "But this weekend starting Friday and Saturday night, we will more than likely sell out."
Prices were a little higher than typical weekend rates, usually around $149 to $239, for the higher-rated hotels in Wilmington. An internet search showed few three- and four-star hotel rooms with rates less than $200 available for Friday through Sunday.
Joan Gerity of NC Coast Properties said the two dozen rental properties she manages are all booked up this weekend, many for events or corporate reasons other than the golf tournament.
For the One Tree Hill convention, for example, "We have people that booked a year out for that," Gerity said.
Business began booming on the weekends for some hotels and rentals in the area as soon as the weather started getting warmer.
"We've been almost sold out every weekend since March," Jones said.
Mayor Bill Saffo said in an interview Friday that more people in general are discovering Wilmington.
"We've become a busy year-round destination," Saffo said. "It's not just Charleston and Savannah now; it's Charleston, Savannah and Wilmington ... we've just got a lot of things happening here and continue to draw people here."nd other lodging establishments to be scarce this weekend because of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Eagle Point and other events.
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