There are currently three hotels currently under construction in Oakhurst, the gateway to Yosemite National Park. Once completed the community will have 324 new rooms. Contributed by Therese Williams
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
As tourism grows and the economy booms, hotels are popping up throughout the Central Valley to accommodate travelers and visitors.
Currently, five hotels have either been proposed or are currently under construction in Fresno and four in Clovis. According to Fresno/Clovis Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Layla Forstedt, these openings come as agritourism, medical tourism, and Fresno and Clovis’ close proximity to popular travel destinations like Yosemite National Park, have spurred an increase of visitors from out of the area.
A former member of the hotel industry herself, Forstedt added that Fresno County generated $1.4 billion in travel and tourism spending in 2016, and hoteliers are looking to get in on the influx of potential customers.
“I have gone far back enough in the history of the hotels to know that when these builders or whoever wants to build a hotel, they’re looking at occupancy,” she said. “And in all my history here…the occupancy has never been this high. We are really busy here.”
The advent of the wildfires have also led to an unexpected boon of customers to Fresno, as visitors planning to visit Yosemite looked to see what nearby areas have to offer during the park’s closure, making lemonade of an otherwise devastating situation.
“Because people that may have been going to Yosemite are now staying here and then kind of doing different things, whether it’s wine tasting, or the Ale Trail, or the Forestiere Underground Gardens, or any of that because people are coming from other countries and other states,” Forstedt said. “So they’re going to do what they can while they’re still here.”
Forstedt said that of the nine hotels, she expects that two or three — including La Quinta in Clovis and the Fresno Hyatt — will be finished by the end of the year.
However, despite the wildfires burning in the mountains, Yosemite National Park opened once again on Tuesday while Mariposa Grove reopened Monday, bringing with them their usual throngs of visitors.
“I was really impressed to see how many visitors were there,” said Therese Williams, director of public relations and sales for Visit Yosemite Madera County. “I met some visitors from the Netherlands, from France, everyone was excited to get back, the buses were busy, the cars were coming up, so everyone’s just been waiting.”
These crowds have motivated the creation of three new hotels in Oakhurst: a Holiday Inn Express & Suites, a Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, and a Hampton Inn Express & Suites. These four-story hotels will each offer 108 new rooms to lodge visitors to the park.
Meanwhile in Visalia, construction is underway on two new hotels. One of these — The Darling Hotel — is being built as a renovation of the former Tulare County Courthouse.
Like Fresno and Clovis, Tulare County has seen an influx of tourists this year as visitors closed out of Yosemite experienced nature at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
In Kings County, the hotel business has also been picking up — this has spurned the opening of the new, 87-room Home2Suites by Hilton hotel in Hanford eight months ago. There are also plans in place to renovate the Best Western Inn & Suites Lemoore, which will have an updated lobby and flooring, lighting and furniture for its guest rooms. These renovations are expected to begin either late in 2018 or early 2019
According to Rosie Marshall, sales director for Home2 Suites by Hilton Hanford and Best Western Inn & Suites Lemoore, this growth has come with a boom in the Kings County economy. These have included the recent introduction of Faraday Future and Boeing contracts to work at Naval Air Station Lemoore, bringing in traffic.
“We are doing really well and our occupancy is very, very high…but there are times that we’re sold out at least three or four days a week,” Marshall said. “And sometimes more.”
These hotels are set up to accommodate the out-of-town workforce who is often in Hanford and Lemoore for extended stays. Accommodations include larger refrigerators and kitchens for their guests.
“We have guests that stay for six months at a time — and a week, 30 days, two weeks,” Marshall said. “It’s very rare that we have just a one-night stay.”
There are currently three hotels currently under construction in Oakhurst, the gateway to Yosemite National Park. Once completed the community will have 324 new rooms.
Hotels currently under construction in the Central Valley
- Hyatt Place. South of Alluvial Avenue and east of Highway 41, Fresno. 126 rooms.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. West Shaw and West avenues, Fresno. 92 rooms.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. McKinley and Peach avenues, Fresno.
- La Quinta Inn & Suites. Clovis and Shaw Avenues, Clovis. 80 rooms.
- Marriott Town Place Suites. West Shaw and Helm avenues. Clovis. 114 rooms.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites. Highway 41, Oakhurst. 108 rooms
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. Highway 41, Oakhurst. 108 rooms.
- Hampton Inn Express & Suites. Highway 41, Oakhurst. 108 rooms.
- The Darling Hotel. 221 S. Mooney Blvd, Visalia. 33 rooms.