Senior projects explore revitalization of Hotel Louise

Published 6:25 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ideas are afoot as to how to transform the former Hotel Louise into a boutique hotel.

On Tuesday, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Arts of the Pamlico hosted a presentation summarizing ideas about how to make that transformation.

Dr. Robert O’Halloran, the director of the School of Hospitality and Leadership at East Carolina University, gave the presentation at the Turnage Theatre. The presentation included three East Carolina University students’ senior projects and outlined a variety of feasibility options for reviving Hotel Louise in downtown Washington.

The students researched and compared rates of other destination hotels in different areas of the southeast to create the proposal, according to O’Halloran. The number of rooms, number of days open, occupancy percentage and the rate of demand were all considered in the study.

After an analysis, the students proposed a 60-room historic, boutique hotel with an average daily rate of about $172.

O’Halloran explained that a hotel of this nature would generate revenue and growth to the downtown area and would give customers the opportunity to both visit Washington and stay in the heart of the city.

“It becomes a destination. People want to stay on site. They don’t want to stay down the road,” O’Halloran said. “They want to stay on the water and on Main Street.”

In bringing a boutique hotel to downtown Washington, the hope is that it would attract both local residents and visitors who are looking for that historic “sense of place.”

Lynn Wingate, director of Washington Tourism Development Authority, said the biggest challenge has been proving the need for a boutique hotel.

“Part of the challenge has been explaining to potential developers that they have to look beyond the numbers, for the simple fact that we don’t have a comparable hotel in Washington to really determine what the real drive would be,” Wingate said.

But O’Halloran said the venue could create a new market and new demand. Audience members agreed a revived hotel would be a draw, and would support the wedding market, holiday travels and tourist trips.

“When you build a boutique hotel, you’re building an attraction. You’re not just building a hotel. It becomes something people can experience,” O’Halloran said.

Wingate said considering all of the restaurants, shops, events and activities downtown Washington has to offer, a downtown hotel would be a great addition.

“It would be a wonderful enhancement to the landscape of our downtown but also a tremendous boost for our local economy,” Wingate said.