SOUTH BEND — There has been an unprecedented surge in the number of new hotel rooms added in the South Bend market over the past couple of years as developers continue to bet tens of millions of dollars that the local economy and the draw of the University of Notre Dame will continue to expand.
South Bend’s newest hotel — Embassy Suites by Hilton — is set to open late this week on the south side of E. Angela Boulevard adjacent to Eddy Street Commons. With a price tag of about $40 million, the new hotel is decidedly more upscale than a facility that might be built in an outlying location.
Rob DeCleene, executive director of Visit South Bend/Mishawaka, agreed that the hotel’s location at the south end of campus will give it a special advantage in what’s rapidly becoming a crowded market. “They’ve got a great product, brand and location,” he said.
In years past, De-Cleene would have been more concerned about the rapid growth in hotel rooms. When the new Embassy Suites opens, the market will have absorbed 855 new rooms since March of 2017, including two new hotels in downtown South Bend.
With about 5,000 hotel rooms now available in St. Joseph County, occupancy has only dropped to 56.1 percent for the first seven months of the year from 60.3 percent for the same period last year. “It’s encouraging that we’re absorbing this new inventory,” De-Cleene said.
At the new Embassy Suites, visitors encounter a 20-foot waterfall as they enter the hotel, which faces Burns Avenue. There are also plenty of massive windows, skylights, an indoor fire feature and towering ceilings to give the new hotel an upscale, modern feel.