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