A new upscale hotel coming to Portsmouth will feature a rooftop lounge and deck on the fourth floor with sweeping views of the North Mill Pond and the Piscataqua River.
It will also include a fitness center with a dedicated yoga room, a library and a third-floor 4,500-square-foot event space and deck for weddings, special occasions and business functions.
For owners Mark Stebbins and Leo Xarras of XSS Hotels, the timing was right to bring the first AC Hotel, a European-inspired Marriott brand, to the state. The company opened the first AC Hotel in the country in Medford, Mass., in 2016.
“There is no hotel like it in downtown Portsmouth,” Stebbins said. “We felt there was a need for an upgraded, higher-stylized, happening hotel in the city.”
The five-story hotel with 156 rooms on Vaughan Street is set to open early next month.
The AC Hotel is not alone when it comes to new accommodations for business travel or tourism across the state. Two new hotels — a Residence Inn and Tru by Hilton — are under construction in Manchester, and a 124-room Fairfield Inn and Suites is planned at the entrance of the Merrimack Premium Outlets.
Developers tore down the former Days Inn off Interstate 93 in Concord to make way for a new 85-room Tru by Hilton, a concept launched in 2016.
Earlier this year, the Hotel Concord, a boutique hotel in the state capital, added 17 rooms for a total of 38. Further north, the Omni Mount Washington Resort recently broke ground on a 69-room-and-suite addition to its Presidential Wing.
These are just a few examples.
“There is definitely investment in the industry,” said Mike Somers, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association.
“Without places to stay, the New Hampshire economy would be very challenged from a rooms and meals tax perspective,” Somers said. “Visitors to the state, whether it’s for weekend travel, leisure travel or corporate business, have been a significant contributor to the overall economy.”
Between fiscal years 2018 and 2019, revenue from the state’s 9% Meals and Rooms (Rentals) Tax jumped from $330 million to $348.5 million, according to data from the state Department of Revenue Administration. The tax applies to hotel rooms, prepared foods and rental cars.
Taxes collected in July, August and September have been higher than the two previous years for those months.
Duprey Hospitality, which owns several hotels in Concord, will open the state’s first Tru by Hilton there in April. The hotel chain launched the new brand, geared toward younger travelers, in 2016.
The Tru brand is described as “vibrant, affordable and young-at-heart,” with areas to work, play games, eat or lounge. There are about 100 already open in the U.S. and Canada with more than 300 in the works, according to its website.
“I would describe it as a Hampton Inn for millennials,” owner Steve Duprey said. “It’s actually one of the fastest-launching hotel chains in the history of franchises.”
The company is investing about $12 million into the hotel and picked the location because of its visibility and access to Interstate 93. The property will also feature the state’s largest T-Bones restaurant.
“The bad news is Concord doesn’t really have big tourism so it doesn’t go up in big numbers in tourist season, but the good news is we are a government and medical town so there is a steady base of business,” Duprey said.
Manchester has two hotels under construction, including a $25 million, 123-room Residence Inn being built near the SNHU Arena, and a $27 million, 125-room Tru in the Millyard, which includes a parking garage.
Michael Skelton, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber, said the hotels will help meet the needs of businesses in the region that need places for workers or clients to stay.
“When those business travelers are here they now have more options to be in the downtown area and contributing to the local economy and the vibrant downtown scene that we have in Manchester,” he said.
He said it’s unusual to have two hotel developments happening in the same downtown area.
“It speaks largely to the economic growth and future potential that we have in Manchester,” Skelton said. “These projects are both moving forward with their own business plans that recognize the competition that is in the market, yet they still see opportunity.”
Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko sees the benefit of the new AC Hotel, which is within walking distance of many downtown restaurants and attractions.
“The new boutique AC Hotel will provide a contemporary option for visitors and business travelers to Portsmouth and add to the vitality of the city’s northern tier,” he said.
Stebbins called it an up-and-coming area of the city with condominiums being built in the area and a new office building under construction across the street. The company declined to say what the total investment is in the property.
“The economy is just very vibrant, it is a good time to be building projects like this,” Stebbins said.