LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Thursday, a new small luxury hotel, The Grady Hotel, in downtown Louisville opened, which seems like perfect timing because numbers show Kentucky hotel occupancy rates are on the rebound. 

What You Need To Know

  • Hotel occupancy rates in Kentucky are on the rebound

  • According to STR, a company that collects data on hotels, Kentucky hotel occupancy in January 2021 was 33.3%

  • Hotel occupancy in Kentucky has been above 50% for the past nine weeks, according to STR

  • Kentucky Travel Industry Association says hotels that rely on business from conventions will take longer to recover

The Grady Hotel is offering rooms at a lower price, $250-$500 depending on views, because the small luxury hotel just opened. (Spectrum News 1/Eileen Street)

“The past month it’s been an increase in traffic and everything in Louisville, you know. People are ready to come back and visit again,” said General Manager Laurent Géroli of The Grady Hotel.

More visitors to Louisville is great news for Géroli since The Grady Hotel is welcoming its first guests during its soft opening.

“So you just come in, and we’ll pamper you,” Géroli.

With 51 hotel rooms, Géroli said occupancy when the hotel fully opens, the second week of June, is at about 50%, which he expects to go up, and he is okay with that.

“So that way we can really focus on tweaking little things. Always a new opening of a hotel is missing, left and right, little things, but this is a perfect time,” Géroli told Spectrum News 1. 

Less than a mile away from The Grady Hotel is Moxy Louisville Downtown, a 110-room boutique hotel that opened in October 2019. 

“Inspired, hopeful,” is how General Manager Justin Weeks is feeling about Moxy’s room bookings right now.

Moxy Louisville Downtown has rooms with stunning views. (Spectrum News 1/Eileen Street)

“We’re selling out on Friday and Saturday nights,” Weeks said. “And then Sunday through Thursday, we’re looking probably anywhere from 40% to 50%, which is a certain uptick from February,” Weeks said. 

Weeks said he started seeing that uptick in Moxy’s room occupancy in March. He attributes the boost to COVID-19 vaccines and an easing of restrictions so people are feeling more comfortable traveling. 

In an email, STR Communications Manager Haley Luther told Spectrum News 1 how hotel occupancy has looked this year. STR is a company that collects data on hotels. Here's the break down:

  • Jan. 2021 occupancy: 33.3%
  • Feb. 2021 occupancy: 40.0%
  • March 2021 occupancy: 50.6%
  • April 2021 occupancy: 55.9%

April’s occupancy of 55.9% was the highest monthly hotel occupancy level for any month since October 2019, according to STR. 

For the most recent week (May 9-15, 2021), hotel occupancy in Kentucky was 54.4%. Hotel occupancy during the comparable week in 2019 (week ending on May 18, 2019) was 62% in Kentucky. 

The Grady Hotel’s cocktail bar, Wild Swann, will open in early June. Hand-crafted cocktails and small bites will be served. (Spectrum News 1/Eileen Street)

President and Chief Executive Officer Hank Phillips of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association (KTIA), which in part advocates for 175 hotel members in Kentucky, said as people are becoming more comfortable with travel, the industry is picking up. Phillips said, however, the 175 hotels that KTIA represents are not “out of the woods, yet.”

“Hotels have incurred losses for the last five quarters,” Phillips told Spectrum News 1. “So as business begins to pick up, that doesn’t resolve all of the financial issues and difficulties that they’ve encountered over that extended period of devastation.”

Phillips said hotels that rely on conventions will be the slowest to recover, while hotels along the interstates are recovering faster.

“People are expressing a stronger interest for road trips versus air travel,” Phillips said. “The impetus and drive for people to get out to travel is too baked into our DNA as human beings, and so we know it’s going to recover, but we’re always cautious in explaining that to folks. That it is not a flip the switch, and we are back to good times again. There's going to be a recovery period.”