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New York gets a record number of hotel rooms

Start spreading the news: New York will reach a record 90,000 hotel rooms by the end of the year, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced.

That’s a 24 percent increase since 2006. More than 7,000 rooms are in the works, about 40 percent of them outside of Manhattan, according to NYC Co., New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization.

The number of hotel rooms in the construction pipeline is actually decreasing across the nation. According to the October 2011 STR/McGraw Hill Construction Dodge Pipeline Report, there are 310,387 rooms slated to be built nationwide, a 9-percent decrease compared to October 2010.

“New room supply growth will remain muted for the overall industry in the coming years,” Vail Brown, vice president of global sales and marketing at the research firm STR, said in a statement. “An exception is the New York City market; they are in the middle of a new hotel construction explosion.”

Nashville reported the largest increase in rooms. Both Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., also reported healthy increases. For the first time in years, Las Vegas was not in the top five for new construction. Chicago had the largest decrease.

Long Island City, Queens, has helped New York surge past other cities in hotel construction. The outer borough community has seen a surge in hotel development, thanks to quick subway service to Manhattan and attractions such as the Museum of the Moving Image. Long Island City and nearby Astoria also house many TV and film studios including Silvercup Studios and Kaufman Astoria Studios.

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There are now 17 hotels in Long Island City with 1,500 rooms. Five more properties with 650 rooms are under construction, NYC Co. reported. Some brands that have branched out to Queens include the Four Points by Sheraton, Fairfield Inn, Country Inn Suites, and Holiday Inn. Next month, the Wyndham Garden Long Island City will open.

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Some independent hotels have also made the leap across the river including the Ravel and the Verve Hotel. The 100-room Z NYC, where Bloomberg made his remarks, opened in July with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline.

Another 40 or so new projects will open citywide in the next 30 months, about 13 of them outside of Manhattan, bringing 1,865 rooms to the outer boroughs, according to NYC Co.

Despite the lull in the economy, the New York City tourism industry appears to be healthy, with 48.8 million visitors last year and a record number of visitors expected this year. Hotel occupancy is close to 85 percent, according to NYC Co.

The U.S. hotel industry is expected to end 2011 with a 4-percent occupancy increase to 59.9 percent, STR reported. But for 2012, STR is forecasting a 0.2 percent increase in occupancy to 60 percent, much smaller than originally predicted. The firm attributes that to continued global economic insecurity.

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