New Portland hotel to grow hops on rooftop for local brewer

A 102-room craft beer-themed ‘brewtel’ plans to tap into the local craft beer scene by growing hops on its rooftop for sale to a local brewer.

Its opening is scheduled for early 2021, it will employ 40 full-time employees and an unknown number of seasonal workers.

The Cambria hotel chain’s first property in Maine will be located at 25 Hancock St. among the new headquarters buildings of WEX and Covetrus and Shipyard Brewing near the east end of town.

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The six-story hotel will have an indoor-outdoor rooftop bar, where the owners also plan to grow hops for the partner shipyard and serve local dishes from a menu developed by celebrity chef Fabio Vivani.

“We will build the ceiling and walls and use color palettes and leather to give the hotel the soul and spirit of Portland and India Street,” said

Janis Cannon, senior vice president of premium brands for Choice Hotels, the company that owns the Cambria brand. “We plan to capture the region’s graffiti in our artwork and murals. “

Cannon said the location is convenient for businessmen and tourists alike who want easy access to downtown Portland. It will also have covered parking.

The hotel held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.

Cambria has 45 other hotels and plans to have 50 by the end of the year, including one in Boston’s “Southie” neighborhood which is slated to open in September. Another location in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is slated to open in 2022.

Credit: Courtesy of Choice Hotels

An oversaturated market?

Market experts are starting to wonder how many more hotels Portland can support. Cambria ownership will be added to the 21 hotels that already operate in Portland. There are 89 hotels in Greater Portland, which stretches from Scarborough to Freeport.

The same question continues to be asked about the craft beer market, which continues to grow, adding $ 260 million a year to Maine’s economy. As with beer, demand for hotel rooms remains strong.

“The people who build hotels are not stupid people. They always see an opportunity for growth, ”said Steve Hewins, president and CEO of HospitalityMaine, an industry group. “But people are looking at hotels in Portland and asking when this is all going to end.”

According to Hewins, at least six more hotels are planned in Portland.

“In 2010, before the arrival of additional hotels, people didn’t think the city would be able to absorb the additional hotels, but it does,” said Lynn Tillotson, President and CEO of Visit Portland, a tour group.

Tillotson said in addition to the 21 hotels with more than 20 rooms each in Portland, there were 13 bed and breakfasts.

Nightly rates at the Cambria in Portland will range from $ 200 to $ 250 on an annual basis, including high and low seasons, Cannon said. Rates are higher than the average Portland hotel rate of $ 184 per night.

And while Portland hotel rates remain high, Hewins doesn’t think they can go much higher.

“We’re concerned about how long they can increase room rates, as occupancy rates haven’t increased much and newer hotels are adding more inventory,” he said.

Occupancy rates in Maine and Portland are above the US average, as are average daily room rates.

The occupancy rate for all hotels in Maine was 80.9% in July, up from 78.6% in July 2018, according to Hewins. This compares to the US occupancy rate of 73.8%.

In Portland, the occupancy rate was well above the U.S. average at 86.1%, up more than 2% from July 2018.

Average daily room prices in Maine and Portland are also above the US average of $ 135.04 per night. Maine was at $ 187.76 and Portland at $ 184.12. Bangor and Northern Maine were at $ 142.51. However, York County was $ 243.80 and the midcoast was $ 220.42 per night, much higher than other areas of the state, according to figures from Hewins.

Labor shortages persist

Hewins said his biggest concern was the labor shortage, which is hitting all parts of the state.

“Hotels are struggling to clean rooms statewide, some are even closing rooms,” he said.

Cannon plans to alleviate workforce issues by partnering with Southern Maine Community College’s apprenticeship and education programs. The hotel hired a property management company, Donohoe, to form partnerships in Maine.

“When we work with a national management company like Donohoe, it can attract talent from other parts of the country,” she said. “It gives workers opportunities for training and career development. “

Bateman Partners, the developer of the hotel, has several projects in the area and has installed cameras to monitor the hotel’s construction progress. The cameras will give three different time-lapse views and can be found on its website.

David Bateman, chairman of Bateman Properties, said the hotel project generates needed tax revenue for the city.

“That’s why the curiosity for progress is soaring there,” he said. “These cameras are a great option for keeping everyone in the know. “

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Sandy A. Greer

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