BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -Anticipation is growing in downtown Biloxi as two new hotels are just a couple of months away from opening.
They are the $12 million dollar Hilton Garden Inn and the $8 million dollar renovation of the old Santa Maria Del Mar retirement tower into a Watermark Hotel.
What does this mean? It means people.
The Hilton will offer 100 rooms, and the Watermark will have 154 suites. When those rooms are full, that means a lot of new potential customers for downtown business owners.
At Rena’s Deli, there are a lot of smiles these days. The new hotels should keep the place hopping. After all, Rena’s it’s just down the street.
“It would mean a lot for me because that is most of my clientele... is walking business. All the downtown people, I’ve been here for almost 28 years, and the more business that comes from the hotels would be great,” said Rena Polovich, owner of Rena’s Deli.
The charter boat industry could also see a big boost. Many of the hotels guests probably like to fish.
“Well, the influx of people will definitely help us. We need all the help we can get right now. Anything like that is a plus,” said Craig Gusa, a charter boat captain.
Also, the close proximity of the hotels to the heart of downtown is a plus. In fact, you can see them from the lounge area of Patio 44. The restaurant may prove to be an inviting place to stop by for a bite or a beverage.
“We’re looking at a great start for this new year, and these new hotels opening up, it’s going to be a lot of great business, a lot of great walk-ins,” said kitchen manager Michael Bowen.
Tourists like to shop, and that might include a visit to Gallery 782 Art Gallery and Gift Shop. Gail Cheney helps to manage the business and gave her input.
“We already have a lot of, not only tourists, but locals, and our location is perfect. We’re within walking distance of the places you’ve talked about. We are going into our 10th anniversary year, so we’re real excited about being here, and hopefully, this will keep us here another ten years,” said Cheney.
With the two new hotels about to open and other businesses opening in downtown Biloxi, there’s a new feeling of optimism about the future of this area.
That’s the word from Bowen.
“As more and more time passes, people are going to come back and realize that the revitalization of downtown Biloxi is crucial, and that’s what we want to maintain and continue forward. We want to be a part of that,” said Bowen.
While the opening of these hotels is good news for downtown Biloxi, the bigger picture is perhaps even more important.
Prior to Katrina, the three Coastal counties had about 17,500 hotels rooms. With the addition of these 254 rooms, that total is now about 15,500 rooms. We’re not quite there yet, but this is certainly another sign of our post hurricane progress.