ENID — Good luck finding a hotel room in Enid, especially during the workweek.
Rooms aren't as tight as they were a year ago — 88-room Springhill Suites opened in June 2012 — but Smith Travel Research Inc. shows the running 12-month average occupancy at 74.3 percent, high enough to make finding a room a challenge.
Rooms may be tighter now than in a year, thanks to a new 131-Hilton Garden Inn destined for downtown, attached to the new Enid Event Center.
Turning the historic Broadway Tower downtown into a boutique hotel — also in the works — will further alleviate the shortage.
In the meantime, good luck.
Not just oil and gas
It's not just energy and construction traffic — although a lot of it is energy and construction traffic. You can tell by the company trucks in hotel and motel parking lots, and barreling along U.S. and state highways and county roads across northwest Oklahoma.
“There's just a lot of stuff going on in Enid,” said Marcy Jarrett, executive director of Visit Enid, the city's tourism center. “We've got layers, with corporate, medical, construction, and then just the traveling public coming through here. There's a lot of activity in Enid, and has been for several years.”
Enid's hotel market, however, is still catching up from the 1980s oil bust.
After Best Western Inn and its 98 rooms in 1983, there wasn't a new hotel in town for 15 years, when the 60-room hotel now known as Baymont came along in June 1998.
Another hotel opened in 1999. The most recent one before last year was a 78-room Hampton Inn Suites in 2010, and before that was Holiday Inn Express & Suites in 2005.
Others are more dated: 38 rooms in 1982; 69 rooms in 1980; 54 rooms in 1974; 123 rooms in 1971; 72 rooms in 1970; 85 rooms in 1963; 26 rooms in 1956.
In all, Enid, population about 50,000, has 13 hotels and motels with 891 rooms, according to Smith Travel Research.
More rooms needed
With the economy humming — the unemployment in Enid as well as Garfield County as a whole was 3.6 percent in July — that's not enough, Jarrett said, especially with a tight housing market turning would-be renters into hotel guests.
“We've got long-term people staying in hotels that might not want to stay in a hotel, that would prefer to be in a rental house,” she said.
Sustained high demand for hotels reaches into the countryside around Enid, which is 90 miles north of Oklahoma City, about 30 miles west of Interstate 35.
New Hennessey hotel
In Hennessey, 20 miles to the south, a new 50-room Sleep Inn & Suites had its grand opening just Friday. The three-story, 30,000-square-foot hotel automatically became the biggest building in the town of 2,156.
General manager Larry G. Lovely II said owner Saqib Anwar of Enid, who formerly owned and operated convenience stores in Enid, Waukomis and Newcastle, had been looking to do something else for some time before responding to the increased demand for hotel rooms. Rates are competitive with rooms in Enid, starting at $109 per night.