Choosing a destination for business or leisure travel is based on many factors. Locations in the highest demand host major conventions and sporting events and offer diverse dining, entertainment, and transportation options. Indianapolis has seen an explosive growth in tourism as a result of the city’s focus on quality amenities, including the need for thoughtful hotel development.

According to recent statistics reported by Visit Indy, 28 million people visited Indianapolis this year, with more than 70 percent hotel occupancy. This is a significant change from 2005, where 18 million people visited Indianapolis and hotel occupancy was at 65 percent. In 2016, $5.2 billion was spent in the city from tourism spending with higher spending totals projected for this year.

Indy’s Hotel Boom

Currently, 12-15 hotels are in development in Marion County. Developers are seizing the opportunity by building a mix of convention and boutique hotels in Indianapolis. The help of experienced local architects/designers in partnership with developers will result in one-of-a-kind experiences that the hotel guest is seeking.

Convention hotels like the JW Marriott are full-service. They have 1,000+ rooms, large meeting spaces, restaurants and bars. They offer convenience with connectability to popular locations. These hotels support the demand for more convention and sporting events.

Boutique hotels offer variety and luxury. Hotels like Le Meridien, Aloft Hotel and The Conrad, have a significantly smaller number of rooms with personable customer service and a one-of-a-kind style. They support the leisure visitor and the savvy business traveler.

Designing around Consumer Demand

Good hotel design is different than any other project type because it has to offer an original experience to the user. For boutique hotels and renovations of existing buildings, often the space champions the history of the neighborhood and has an authentic aesthetic that cannot be found elsewhere. If it is a new building, it must be designed to connect to the surrounding area.

On average, a hotel renovates every 7-8 years. New hotels offer the latest in technology, the newest material, color and furnishing trends. With several new hotels on the horizon, existing hotels will renovate their spaces in order to compete and stay relevant.

Existing hotels renovated their spaces when the JW Marriott was built just before the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Now, 7 years later, the JW plans to renovate to offer rooms that have a home feel, and smarter technology; television with bigger monitors that offer Netflix, and faster wireless internet services that can handle more devices.

Indianapolis has grown from a flyover city to a fly-to city. The growth in amenities, the walkability of the urban core, and the growing retail and food scene have helped redefine the city. The continued expansion of events that the city hosts and the development of a variety of hotels will allow Indianapolis to remain competitive in the tourism and leisure market.

Greg Jacoby is the president and a principal at Browning Day who specializes in hotel design. View his profile here.