Hotels: Few rooms left, but storm not only factor

Published 5:00 am Friday, July 8, 2005

>Most local hotels have already filled to capacity as GulfCoast residents prepare for the unpredictable Hurricane Dennis, butthe “no vacancy” signs can only be partly attributed to thecategory four storm.

The Super 8 Motel filled to near capacity on Wednesday, butmanager Raymond Griner admitted the motel still “had only a fewrooms to deal with the hurricane.”

A large contracting company from Houston had occupied most ofthe rooms at the motel while working on a local construction site,Griner said. The few rooms he had left went fast.

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At Best Western, a hotel manager who did not identify herselfsaid the hotel had been solidly booked since Thursday.

“Our room are actually booked for a reunion,” she said. “Many ofthese have been booked for a year. We didn’t have many to spare forthe weather.”

The Hampton Inn is also booked solid, said manager DianeSullivan.

“We are booked from now until Thursday. We’ve been booked fortwo days,” she said. “We tend to book up quickly when there’s ahurricane.”

The telephone is continuing to ring with people seeking rooms,Sullivan said. Many are hoping to acquire room because of acancellation, but she said there have not been any yet.

Sullivan said she has called Hampton Inns and some other hotelsacross the state and there do not appear to be any rooms availablesouth of Jackson.

“In fact, the nearest rooms I found were in Holly Springs – nearMemphis,” she said.

However, Ken Patel, manager of the Liberty Inn in Monticello,said he still has a few vacancies.

“I have many sold out to walk-ins,” he said. “I have some kingbeds left, but only a few.”

Sunny Desai, manager of the Days Inn in Brookhaven, said theyare also filled to capacity.

However, he recommended coast residents continue checking withhotels in the area because “there are a lot of reservations andcancellations as the weather changes.”

As areas are declared clear of Dennis’s projected path, coastresidents in the cleared path call to cancel their reservations,Desai said.

“We’ll know more tomorrow as it becomes more clear where(Dennis) is going,” he said.

Forecasters have cautioned all Gulf Coast residents fromLouisiana to Florida to watch Dennis, which has recorded windspeeds of at least 150 mph and was designated a category fourhurricane today as it neared Cuba.