No, I’m not sur­prised at $400 ho­tel rooms

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - INSIDE - Con­tact Barry Courter at bcourter@times­freep­ress.com or 423-757-6354.

Over the last two or three weeks, I’ve had sim­i­lar con­ver­sa­tions with sev­eral dif­fer­ent peo­ple about the cur­rent sta­tus of our city. All of the con­ver­sa­tions have taken place with peo­ple who, like my­self, have lived here for quite awhile.

They usu­ally start with the same ques­tion, or the be­gin­ning of the same ques­tion: “Can you be­lieve…?”

The sec­ond part of the query has been ei­ther “…that Chat­tanooga has a fes­ti­val like Moon River?” or “…that Chat­tanooga has a ho­tel charg­ing $400 a night for a room?”

My an­swer to both: “Yes, I can.”

We do not live in the same city we grew up in, and I don’t think many of us, those of us who still live in Brain­erd or Oolte­wah or Hix­son or Sig­nal Moun­tain, see it.

But, more im­por­tantly, I don’t think we have fully grasped the idea that events like Moon River, which took place a cou­ple of weeks ago at Coolidge Park, or hotels like the Ed­win and its high-dol­lar room rates, are not re­ally be­ing mar­keted to the “econ­omy mo­tor lodge” crowd or the eight-days-of­mu­sic-for-$40 fes­ti­val­go­ers.

As has been pointed out sev­eral times, 61 per­cent of the Moon River crowd came from places like Wash­ing­ton, D.C., New York and Cal­i­for­nia. They came to a beau­ti­ful city where they found a fes­ti­val with big-time cur­rent acts tak­ing place next to a river sur­rounded by moun­tains cov­ered in hik­ing and bik­ing trails.

They found a down­town with good restau­rants and hotels Barry Courter close enough to each other that they could park their car and walk to just about ev­ery­where they wanted to go. Ash­ley Capps, the AC in AC En­ter­tain­ment which pro­duced the fes­ti­val, told me he stayed at the Dwell on 10th Street and walked back and forth to Coolidge Park and loved ev­ery bit of it.

I hear from out-of-town peo­ple all the time who leave At­lanta, Nashville and Birm­ing­ham be­hind to come here for the week­end be­cause it’s a cool place to visit. And easy to nav­i­gate.

There is still plenty of room for im­prove­ment, es­pe­cially when it comes to di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion. And most of the good stuff is still hy­per-fo­cused on down­town, but hope­fully that will change as well. There is a lot go­ing on be­tween East Brain­erd and Cleve­land that doesn’t get a lot of at­ten­tion, for ex­am­ple.

Things are far from per­fect, and I’m not likely to ever pay $400 for a ho­tel room here or any­where, but I’m not sur­prised that some folks will.

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