Six months into the opening of downtown’s Hotel Vandivort, the property’s occupancy rate is growing steadily as it works toward a three-year stabilization target.
John McQueary, who spoke before a live audience this morning for Springfield Business Journal’s 12 People You Need to Know interview series, said the goal is to exceed a 70 percent occupancy rate for the 50-room boutique hotel with 14 suites and three meeting spaces.
“For the first six months or even a year, it’s just kind of riding the roller coaster,” said McQueary, who launched the hotel with his brother Billy via MBH LLC. “It’s certainly higher than we expected right now. Depending on the month, we’re running at 50, 60 and even 70 [percent occupancy] in October.
“It’s a long ramp-up period. I think we’re on a really good pace.”
McQueary said the hotel’s clientele has been a mix of social activities on the weekends, business travelers during the week and staycationers.
“We’ve got a pretty wide demographic we’re after,” he said.
Early on, revenues have been evenly split between room sales and food and beverage business, which is a rarity in the hotel industry.
“Usually a restaurant in a hotel is a loss leader. We wanted to make sure it was its own thing,” McQueary said.
Room prices at the $13 million hotel, 305 E. Walnut St., range from $150 to $400. Its first-floor restaurant dubbed The Order sources meats from the likes of Circle B Ranch and concocts craft cocktails.
“We’ve been coining it as the living room of downtown,” he said of the lobby and restaurant area, where the bathroom has become known on social media for selfies. “That’s been a fun thing for us, seeing that piece of culture.”
For the McQueary brothers, the roughly 110-year-old building that once was a masonic temple wasn’t the first option explored. The former Thomas Brothers Office Furnishings building at Walnut and Campbell Avenue was considered early on, but the property only would have allowed 25 rooms.
When they decided on the Vandivort building, they didn’t take any chances. The McQuearys brought on IDM Hospitality Management to manage the 44,000-square-foot hotel.
“We didn’t claim to be experts on anything. We approached it as consumers and brought the experts on board,” he said. “That was essential for sure, especially when you’re doing something that’s just outside the realm of typical.”