It’s no secret that tourism is a major industry for Port Aransas. Now, the city is looking to build an attraction that would bring more visitors to town — an upscale hotel and conference center.
Places like Palmilla Beach and Cinnamon Shore see plenty of tourists in the beach community. However, those people usually occupy those vacation rentals during the same time every year — holidays and the summer.
"The rest of the time, if you’re a restauranteur, it’s probably pretty hard to sell a piece of fish 40 weeks out of the year," says Jeff Lamkin, developer for Cinnamon Shore.
Gregory Carr, asset manager for Palmilla Beach, adds, "When all the kids are back in school, folks are not down here spending money."
One of the goals of proposed hotel conference center is to remedy that problem and provide sustainable tourism year-round. The industry that’s so vital to Port Aransas is still bouncing back more than ten months after Hurricane Harvey.
Lamkin explains, "That’s really hurt the town and the tax dollars which feeds the marketing and a convention center is a nice anchor tool that just kind of helps stabilize that."
Some of the proposed elements of the hotel conference center include at least 200 guest rooms, more than 21,000 square feet of meeting space, a full-service restaurant, retail boutique and business center.
According to the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce, this project could also meet another long-term economic need for the unique beach community — higher-paying jobs.
"We don’t want to be the biggest place in Texas and there’s a lot of towns we don’t want to be. But we do need to be a healthy economy for the people that live here and for those that choose to vacation here," Lamkin says.
Carr believes it will also boost the town’s overall economy, saying, "Having the ability to bring more people down here in those slower seasons helps the businesses, helps the community, helps the other hotels as well. I think this is something that Port Aransas has needed for a long time."
The Port Aransas Chamber and the city are now in the process of accepting bids from potential developers for this project. The deadline to submit those proposals is July 25. Officials plan to interview finalists and select a private partner by late August.