WAITE PARK/ST. CLOUD -- Construction of two new hotels in Waite Park continues to move along.

Julie Lunning is the Executive Director of the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She says the first new hotel, a Residence Inn, should be open by August. She says you'll be able to start booking rooms next month.

The second new hotel, a Hilton Garden Inn, along with the Park Event Center are expected to be done by the end of the year.

Lunning says a new restaurant is also part of the overall project.

A lot of them are more bbq style, steak style, they're talking about maybe just a tiny bit more high end than what they've been doing in the past.  So we're still waiting on a name and we're seeing some preliminary menus.  So it will be open to the public, but it will also handle room service for the hotels, and it will be the exclusive caterer for the event center.

Lunning says she expects visitors on the west end of the St. Cloud metro area, including people coming to the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University, to utilize the new hotels once they're open.

Meanwhile, the River's Edge Convention Center in downtown St. Cloud is a very busy place, which means the three existing hotels downtown can also be very busy.

Lunning says the city hired a third party last year to do a study about hotel occupancy in the downtown.

And if we brought more rooms into the inventory does that take away from the existing hotels, or does it allow us to bring more business in?  So we're trying to find that balance.  I think that we've been able to determine that yes additional rooms are needed, we're just trying to find that magic number.

Lunning says more hotel rooms downtown may allow them to bring in more concurrent events at the convention center.

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis has pitched the idea of putting a new hotel along the Mississippi River where the Empire Apartment Building sits now.

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