LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – With pandemic restrictions still in place and capacity limitations at Churchill Downs, several local hotels still have rooms available for the Derby weekend.
“Historically, we were full at all three hotels months in advance,” said Skip James, vice president of sales and marketing for AJS Hotels, which includes Crowne Plaza, Embassy Suites and The Galt House. “We still have availability, but we will be doing over 90% at The Galt House, which is very strong for a 1310 room hotel. Our other hotels are over 85%, and we still have a few weeks left. “
The Galt House was able to remain open in 2020, although the hospitality industry has been hit hard by the lack of tourists and travel problems due to COVID-19.
The Omni Hotel, also in downtown Louisville, closed for several months in 2020. The general manager said he was delighted to be open this year for Derby and to welcome guests.
“Based on 2020 – from what we’ve all been through – we’re grateful that people are right here at whatever capacity, that Derby is going to race with fans,” said Louisville Omni general manager Eamon. O’Brien.
O’Brien said he sees a mix of local and regional guests ready to step out of the house, but also a wide range of guests from across the country coming to stay at the Omni.
“We have been booked twice since the reopening on Saturday evening,” he said.
But the Omni isn’t sold out for the Derby weekend. Like many other hotels in the area, there are still several rooms available.
“Right now we’re pretty much at Churchill Downs capacity, in that 50-60% range, so we have a lot of room availability,” O’Brien said. “But part of that is due to the design, because we want to deliver the experience that people expect from coming here for the Kentucky Derby.”
He said in a typical pre-pandemic year, rooms for Derby would start selling right after the previous year’s race, with another wave wiping out all available rooms by January.
“Definitely by April, with the exception of maybe a handful of rooms, we could be full in a normal year,” he said.
According to data from Louisville Tourism, the most recent figures so far show that 49% of the city’s hotel rooms are reserved for this Derby Day. Data from 2019 shows that at the same time, that number was 80%.
A Louisville Tourism spokesperson said there were a handful of sold-out hotels in east Louisville for Derby, but rooms are still available this year around the airport, downtown, of southern Indiana and Bullitt County.
Data is based on 21,510 hotel rooms in the region.
Many hotels require a minimum stay of two to three nights for the Derby weekend.
James said the Derby weekend price at the Galt House starts at around $ 1,300. O’Brien said the Omni offers weekend packages at $ 1,999 per night.
Derby Day is May 1st.
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