FLORENCE, S.C. -- The hospitality industry continues to grow in Florence County. The downtown district in Florence saw the opening of another hotel in February.

Owned by East Evans Hospitality LLC, Hyatt Place joined its sister property, Hotel Florence, as one of two downtown hotels managed by Raines Hospitality.

“Downtown Florence was the ideal location for Hyatt Place, as Raines Hospitality saw a need for additional hotel rooms due to the success of Hotel Florence and the growth of the market,” said Brittney Edwards, vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management for Raines Hospitality. “We saw the addition of Hyatt Place as an opportunity to push development into what is a growing and unique market while placing a complementary hotel to Hotel Florence. Having the support of the community partners and a thriving city center allows all of Florence to continue to flourish.”

She said Hyatt Place was receiving a positive response not only from travelers coming to the Florence market but also from the community.

“With more business travelers coming to Florence, Hyatt Place offers the amenities this type of guest is looking for while also providing another brand option and bringing in those who are already brand loyal,” Edwards said. “Hyatt Place will draw new business to the area as well as support the businesses already here.”

“We have been so busy,” said Ashton Sankuer, director of sales at Hyatt Place in downtown Florence. “The apples are disappearing,” referring to their signature bowls of green apples placed throughout the hotel for guests to enjoy.

“We are extremely blessed to have so many people that are excited about the hotel,” she said.

The five-story, 103-room hotel represents one of the largest construction projects of 2018 in Florence, with an investment of $20 million in downtown.

Sankuer said she is receiving two to five inquiries a day about using the meeting facilities and three to five calls inquiring about group stays from corporate to sports to family reunions. She said groups are booked all the way to December.

The hotel is about 40 percent occupied during the week and more than 60 percent occupied on the weekends, Sankuer said.

“It takes time to get consistency,” she said.

Sankuer said the comments from guests have been encouraging. She said the upper-level terrace is one of the guests’ favorite places to unwind and relax. She said guests say there is nothing like the view of downtown from the terrace or the corner rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Sankuer said being downtown has been great.

“It is a great opportunity to be part of something so much bigger,” she said. “The downtown is growing, and this is an amazing opportunity.”

She looks forward to getting more involved in downtown activities and the community. The hotel partnered with All 4 Autism during its Pacing 4 Pieces 5K and half-marathon and Piece Jam in March.

Edwards said 2019 will prove to be a busy year for Raines Hospitality, as it will “open two new properties and begin development on a few others.” In Florence, an 86-room Comfort Suites will open its doors in July, joining the Hospitality Boulevard cluster of hotels, she said.

“As well, development is under way with construction to begin later this year on a 175-room Holiday Inn/Avid dual-branded hotel,” Edwards said. “Avid is one of Intercontinental Hotel Group’s newest brands that was launched in 2017. The Holiday Inn/Avid will be the first dual brand of its kind.”

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