Re: Gaylord’s Expansion Plans

A FBvian out Fort Worth way wants it noted that the Star-T had this, like, almost a month ago. So noted. The full story after the jump.

Texan may add 500 rooms to resort
By David Wethe


Credit:  Star-Telegram staff writer
Saturday,August 11, 2007
Edition: Tarrant, Section: Work and Money, Page C1


* For the first time, the CEO of Gaylord Entertainment has acknowledged detailed plans for the Grapevine resort.

Owners of the sprawling Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center on Lake Grapevine said business is so good that they are mulling an expansion that would bolster its room count by 500 and increase meeting space by as much as 75 percent.

Rumors have been swirling for months about a possible expansion at the 1,511-room resort, which has 400,000 square feet of meeting space.

Colin Reed, chairman and chief executive of Gaylord Entertainment, based in Nashville, told analysts in the company’s latest earnings conference call last week that the company was looking at adding 500 rooms and 250,000 to 300,000 square feet in meeting space.

It’s the first time he has acknowledged detailed plans for an expansion.

Grapevine officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls some of the land that the Texan occupies next to the lake, are in discussions with Gaylord executives.

So far, city officials have not voiced serious opposition to the project.

In fact, “the city has been encouraging us to expand, because what is going on in Grapevine is, more hotels are getting built conti- guous to our hotel,” Reed told investors Aug. 2. “The amount of demand we’re generating into that market is causing other hotel businesses to build.”

City officials confirmed that Gaylord is seeking a tax incentive for the pro- ject but declined to say how much.

The company, which has two other giant hotels in Tennessee and Florida, is expanding a stand-alone 400-room hotel next to its Gaylord Opryland resort and convention center in Nashville. That project, which will also include 400,000 square feet of additional meeting space, received an $80 million tax incentive package from the state and the city, Reed said.

Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate said that he supports the expansion but that some of the details still need to be worked out, especially as they relate to the corps.

Tate said an agreement could be worked out and taken up with the City Council in a matter of weeks rather than months.

A corps official with knowledge of Gaylord’s proposed expansion could not be reached for comment Friday.

Tate said he hasn’t been in on discussions involving the corps.

Executives for the Gaylord Texan and its parent company declined to comment beyond Reed’s remarks to analysts.

Essentially, if the hotel wants to add onto its facility, and it sits on corps property, Gaylord would need corps approval, said Grapevine Councilwoman Darlene Freed, who was briefed on the plans about six to eight months ago.

Gaylord would also be interested in adding “an expanded pool complex to really accommodate the leisure demand that we are building in that market,” Reed said.

But city officials said not to take that as a sign of fierce competition with the Great Wolf Lodge, a 402-room hotel being built across the street from the Gaylord Texan. Great Wolf, which is expected to open in December and will mostly cater to families and other leisure travelers, will have an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park called Bear Track Landing.

For the three months ending June 30, the Gaylord Texan reported the biggest gain out of all three of Gaylord Entertainment’s mega-resorts. The Texan recorded $352.24 in revenue per available room, a key industry metric. That’s up 13 percent from the same period a year earlier.

“That hotel has been a very big surprise as our brand has taken traction,” Reed said. “It’s performing substantially ahead of where we thought it was going to perform. It would seem the customer demand for this location and facility continues to build. So we want to take advantage of that.”

[email protected] David Wethe, 817-685-3803

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