Major Athens-area hotels expect to have dozens of their rooms vacant Friday and Saturday nights, signaling that fewer people may be traveling to Athens for Halloween weekend festivities than in years past when most hotels sold out.
Conversations with managers and front desk receptionists at eight of the largest hotels in town revealed that many were surprised at the relative lack of business they anticipate for the upcoming holiday weekend — especially when many sold out just weeks ago in connection to Ohio University Homecoming celebrations despite the university formally canceling most associated events.
Although, some hotel employees indicated that rooms could fill up later Friday night and into Saturday if more out-of-towners arrive in Athens or reserve rooms at the last minute.
In an effort to prevent large Uptown gatherings this weekend, no ordinances were passed by city leaders in relation to the storied annual Halloween block party, which effectively cancelled the event.
An Ohio University Inn employee told The Athens NEWS that the inn has 43 rooms booked for Friday night of the 139 rooms the facility has on its property. Between Oct. 9-10, the peak of Homecoming week, the OU Inn saw fewer rooms booked than it has in the past, and the employee said that the pandemic has impacted the inn and the lodging industry as a whole.
Athens’ Super 8, located on East State Street, reported that 15 of its 25 available rooms were booked for the weekend. The hotel similarly did not see a high number of occupants during this year’s Homecoming weekend.
The Quality Inn, located on Home Street, has 98 rooms in its facility, and an employee said that 31 rooms were booked for Friday night, with 64 rooms left to book for Saturday night. In past years, the hotel has sold out rooms for Halloween weekend and the weekend that follows. On Homecoming weekend, it reportedly sold out all of its rooms.
The Holiday Inn Express, located on East Park Drive near East State Street, is half full, a manager reported. The facility has 80 rooms available, though they said more could be booked by Friday in the late afternoon or evening.
Less than half of the 85 rooms at The Hampton Inn Athens, located on East State Street, were booked through the weekend to the surprise of its staff. The hotel was completely booked earlier this month for Homecoming weekend, they said.
Baymont Inn and Suites Athens only reported 31 of its 98 rooms booked for Friday night with roughly the same number expected to be occupied Saturday night, a receptionist said. The hotel sold out for Homecoming and the receptionist noted it was very surprising they were not sold out for Halloween.
The Fairfield Inn Suites by Marriott Athens, located on East State Street, which also sold out for Homecoming, reported that only 36 of its 87 rooms were reserved Friday night with only one more reserved for Saturday.