Polk County B& and inn owners say new hotel could bankrupt them

Published 3:22 pm Thursday, May 7, 2009

Caudle said he&squo;d love to work with the equestrian community and find out what they need to accommodate them. He said occupancy is down so much right now, a large hotel could have a major impact on local bed and breakfasts and inns, including bankruptcy.

&dquo;We&squo;d love to work with the equestrian community,&dquo; Caudle said. &dquo;We&squo;re hurting for business. I&squo;m not opposed to a free market, but I am opposed to actively seeking something a community doesn&squo;t need.&dquo;

Jeff Tempest, owner of the Pattie Inn in Columbus, also spoke about how much money local bed and breakfasts put back into the local community in terms of occupancy tax. He said recruiting a hotel doesn&squo;t make good fiscal sense for the county, saying that if the county put in a Holiday Inn Express, for example, it would pretty much wipe out even the bigger establishments in the county.

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&dquo;If we do that here, we&squo;ll just be cutting our own throats,&dquo; said Tempest. &dquo;You&squo;ll be putting the little guys out of business.

Sarah Huff, owner of Butterfly Creek near Columbus,&bsp; pointed out how much hospitality money goes back into the community. She also said she did some research on hotels on I-26 where equestrian visitors stay now in Spartanburg, Hendersonville and Forest City areas and questioned whether a new hotel in Polk County could compete with their prices. She said even if the county does recruit a hotel, equestrians may still stay outside of the county because of the prices.

Caudle said an inn guest will spend 41 percent more money in local restaurants and shops than a hotel chain visitor, according to Caudle.

Caudle said being unique and rural is part of Polk County&squo;s attraction and asked commissioners if they want the county to become more generic, like the rest of the world.