Many hotels in Palm Beach County are spending millions to renovate as occupancy numbers rise

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - If you've been to hotels in Palm Beach County lately, you may have noticed a lot of renovations.

Tourism leaders say it's no coincidence. They say hotels are remodeling at a near record pace, yet another sign, they say, of an economic turnaround.

"I think everyone was pulling back in the past and certainly during the recession when we saw everything come to a standstill...but we're starting to attract investors coming in and other investors to invest in what they already have," Glenn Jergensen with the Tourism Development Council said.

Hotel Biba, a small boutique hotel in West Palm Beach's El Cid Historic District, just finished over one million dollars in renovations.

"The customers want renovation...they want new. They want the latest," Jonathan Lefebvre with Hotel Biba said.

The hotel is owned by a local investor and has already undergone most of the renovations.

"We had a great season and a great summer last year. We're trying to move forward to keep the economy going," Lefebvre said.

Larger hotels have also been renovating. The West Palm Beach Marriot has spent millions over the past year upgrading all of their guest rooms.

"I'm very encouraged. It is about the travel increasing, both in group business and the leisure segment," Marriot General Manager Cheri Rotledge said.

Occupancy is up big time county-wide over the last year. Occupancy was just over 86 percent in February and the average room in Palm Beach County went for just under 200 dollars a night.

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