New hotels quickly sprouting in downtown landscape

Published 11:28 am Thursday, May 10, 2007

NATCHEZ — The hotels being constructed in Natchez seem to be leaping skyward, and owners of both plan to be welcoming guests within a year.

Construction on both the Country Inn and Suites River Center across from the convention center and the Hampton Inn next to the Isle of Capri Hotel began early this year.

Warren Reuther, part-owner of the convention center hotel, said his project should be finished April 1, maybe even earlier.

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“We’d like to try and get it open as soon as possible,” said Warren Ruether, part-owner of the Country Inn and Suites being built across from the convention center. “If we can make it by the end of February or early March, that would be great.”

The sooner the hotel opens, the sooner it can start housing people and the more money it can make, he said.

In fact, Reuther’s company, New Orleans Hotel Consultants, has already had people show interest in the hotel.

“We get quite a few inquiries,” he said. “But it’s still a year out. We’re really going to start getting some when it gets closer (to opening).”

Down the street, the Hampton Inn is going up with similar speed. Good weather and prefabrication means the building is growing up to its full four floors and 86 rooms.

“Why should it go slow?” owner Dr. Shailesh Vora said.

Vora said he hopes his hotel will open Oct. 1 of this year.

Reuther’s company will manage both the private hotel and the city’s convention center starting in October.

But the 119-room, four-story hotel won’t look like just every other Country Inn and Suites, architect Peter Trapolin said.

“The entire exterior of this building will be covered in brick,” Trapolin said. “We’ll be using a better quality window, and we’ve got some balconies.

“It’s designed to try to fit in more with Natchez.”

The inside, too, will be different from the cookie-cutter mold, he said.

“We’re planning to go all granite countertops, and we’ll have multiple meeting rooms,” Trapolin said. “It’s going to be a higher level of finish on both the interior and exterior.”

Part of the speed with which the building is being constructed can be attributed to prefabricated pieces, like walls and floors, he said. The pieces are built in Indiana and Shreveport, then shipped to Natchez and installed.

“By the time they got the concrete slab in the ground, the prefabricated steel structure was ready to go,” Trapolin said. “All they had to do was fasten them.”

Prefabricated pieces save money, he said.

“In construction, time is money,” Trapolin said. “The quicker (the hotel) opens, the quicker it starts earning revenue and the less the owner pays keeping the men on the site building.”

The building is going up fast now, he said, but it might appear to slow down once the finish work starts.

The weather, too, has sped things along, he said. Sunny skies have meant few days work has had to be to postponed.

The Natchez Hampton Inn is the third the El Dorado, Ark., doctor has had built. The first was in El Dorado, and the second was in Nacogdoches, Texas.

The Hampton Inn will look much like other Hamptons across the country, but its location will be special, Vora said.

“It’s going to be a very beautiful hotel,” Vora said.

Natchez Tourism Director Walter Tipton said the hotels were climbing fast, but everything’s relative.

“Some projects get built faster than others,” Tipton said. “Some, like the hotels, go up fast. Others, like the federal courthouse, take longer. Each project is different.”