With another target date for opening unrealized this month, the Best Western hotel on Main Street in Bandera has pushed its opening date back to the end of September and is expressing additional confidence that this time the date could be real by accepting online reservations for rooms after Nov. 7.
Shay Tucker, the operations manager for Showcase Developers which is the company behind the 46-room hotel, said the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic kept officials from completing the hotel by the middle of this month, which was the target date projected in April.
The pandemic limited the number of people who could work on the $4.9 million project at any one time and delayed material shipments, she said.
But Tucker is confident that the new target date will be hit based on progress that has been made in recent weeks and on the fact that online bookings at the hotel already have started for stays after Nov. 7.
“We’re moving along nicely,” said Tucker. “We should have no problem meeting the new target date.”
The news pleased Bandera City Councilwoman Lynn Palmer, who also is a member of the Bandera Economic Development Corp. which extended the hotel developer a tax break and a variety of financial incentives to get them to bring the hotel to Bandera.
“The EDC and council are looking forward to seeing the hotel open up,” said Palmer. “I’m hoping they will open for hunting season. It will be a good thing for Bandera.”
But the councilwoman said she is disappointed that it has taken the hotel so long to get finished and said the EDC could reexamine the package of incentives that has been agreed to if another target date gets set aside.
Palmer said that the EDC is scheduled to review the hotel’s incentives package at the end of the month just so new board members are aware of what it contains and everyone is clear about what developers must do to obtain the financial assistance.
Niranjan K. Bhakta, who owns the Bandera Lodge with his wife, has been one of the critics of the city’s decision to provide financial incentives to the hotel on the hope that it would draw hefty tourist dollars to Bandera.
He said it is smart to open the hotel during hunting season because those are among the few weekends of the year in which local hoteliers can expect to be full.
After that, hotels have found it difficult to attain 20 percent occupancy, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic grew, Bhakta said.
He does not believe the Best Western will keep many tourists in town who otherwise might have travelled to Boerne or Kerrville for a hotel or that it will hit the occupancy levels envisioned by the EDC when it offered the facility incentives.
Site work for on the Best Western began in 2018, and developers projected it could be open for business early in 2019, but that target date and all the others set after it have been missed for a variety of reasons. Those reasons including heavy rains in the months after work on the hotel started, then a steel shortage and later a structural change in the hotel’s development team.
Most recently developers said they were planning for a mid-July opening so the Best Western could get in on the late summer tourism season, but the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that plan.
Cori Reid, the general manager of the facility, which is a Best Western Hotels & Resorts property that agreed to add design features that give it an Old West feel consistent with the style featured in downtown Bandera, said she too is confident the hotel will open in late September.
Officials hope for a grand opening celebration some time in October, Reid said.
She said some customers already have booked rooms for after Nov. 7 but did not have an exact count.
Bookings can be finalized by going to https://www. bestwestern.com and entering Bandera’s Zip Code in the search engine or by going to the link on the Best Western Bandera Suites Facebook page.
Rooms are available at the hotel for $129 a night to $179 a night depending on what days the room is sought for and what type of room is needed.
The hotel offers rooms with two queen-sized beds, some with a balcony, and rooms with a king-sized bed and a pullout sofa, again some with a balcony.
Tucker said officials have not finalized contracts for the retail spaces that will be available at the hotel. There will be space for a restaurant, possibly a coffee shop with a drive-through lane, but it is not expected to be in operation 24 hours a day.
The hotel is expected to hire nine, full-time employees, but Reid said those positions probably will not be filled until the end of August.