Rosh Amin admits that it "may have been crazy" in the eyes of many to start building three new hotels in Hamilton County during the pandemic, when hotel bookings stalled and travel spending plunged by 30% in Hamlton County and 42% nationwide in 2020.
But as tourism bounces back, the head of the Dynamic Group remains confident, not only in the growth of Chattanooga's travel industry, but also in ability of Dynamic to capture both business and leisure travelers with the new Marriott-affiliated hotels.
The Dynamic Group is spending $49 million and adding 309 hotel rooms at its newest Hamilton County hotels in East Ridge, East Brainerd and Hixson. Next year, Dynamic is planning to open other new hotels in Cleveland, Tennessee, and Tampa, Florida, as it continues to expand across the Southeast.
"The pandemic intimidated us, but we didn't lose confidence," Amin said during an interview Thursday at the company's newly opened Towne Places in East Ridge, just off of Interstate 75 at Frawley Road. "This is a beautiful place for extended stays for business travel or group sporting events nearby at Camp Jordan or for those just needing a comfortable place to stay along the interstate. We feel like we're in kind of a safe bubble."
The new four-story Town Places, which is affiliated with the Marriott hotel chain, is nearly identical to a 90-room version of the same hotel that the Dynamic Group hopes to open before the end of the year on Highway 153 in Hixson near Northgate Mall and CHI Memorial Hospital Hixson. In the next month or two, Dynamic also plans to open the tallest hotel among nearly two dozen inns at the Shallowford Road exit on I-75 when it opens a 131-room Element by Westin.
"We have had our struggles like everyone with supply chain problems, but in the end, I think our timing was pretty solid," Amin said.
The new Towne Places hotel in East Ridge was built atop a hill that offers guests a sweeping view of the Lookout Mountain range to the South and West.
"This hotel may have as many mountain views as any hotel anywhere," Jonathan Armstrong, regional sales and marketing director for Dynamic Group Management, said while showing off the hotel views from the fourth-story rooms.
Amin said construction crews had to remove 60,000 cubic yards of dirt from the top of the hill to level off the site of the East Ridge Hotel at Ringgold Road and Frawley Road. The project is being aided in East Ridge by being within the border tax zone created by the state of Tennessee to give a portion of the sales taxes generated by the development back to the developer. Under the agreement with the city of East Ridge, Dynamic will get 4.125% of the sales (60% of the allowable sales tax collections) from the hotel to help pay for the capital expenses of the facility.
"We need a hotel like this with its amenities to help support Camp Jordan and all of the activities we have at that park as well as to help encourage more motorists traveling I-75 to stop at the East Ridge exit," East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams said in an interview Thursday. "This is a beautiful Marriott property, and we're very excited to have it in our city."
Amin said his company is actively pursuing building or buying and redeveloping another hotel in East Ridge.
The new East Ridge hotel will have about 25 employees, and when combined with the other staff additions at the other new Dynamic hotels, will grow the total staff of the Chattanooga-based hotel operator to about 200 employees. Over time, Amin said he expects to grow Dynamic's portfolio to about 15 or so hotels with multiple properties in both the Chattanooga area and in the Tampa market.
Staffing for the additional hotels remains a challenge, but Amin said his business works to make its jobs fun and appealing to the maximum extent possible.
While the pandemic generated losses for Dynamic for the first three months in the spring of 2020, Amin said the company learned how to adapt and operate in a more lean manner.
"We learned a lot about how we can operate more efficiently during the pandemic, and now we have come out on the other side as a much stronger business," he said.
Dynamic hotel additions
The Dynamic Group is opening three new hotels this fall in its hometown in Hamilton County:
• Marriott Towne Places at 730 Frawley Road in East Ridge, opened Sept. 7 with 88 rooms. The $12.5 million project was financed by Southeast Bank and will qualify for a portion of the extra sales taxes it generates through East Ridge’s border zone.
• Element by Westin at 7013 Shallowford Road will open in the next month or two as the first Element hotel in the market. The 131-room hotel will have 40% of the rooms as standard studio hotel rooms and 60% of the rooms as extended stay rooms with kitchenettes. The $24 million Element by Westin is being financed by SmartBank.
• The Marriott Town Places at 5248 Highway 153 in Hixson will include 90 rooms, each with kitchenettes. The $12.5 million hotel, scheduled to open by the end of 2022, is being financed by the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union.
Source: The Dynamic Group
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or 423-757-6340. Follow on Twitter at @Dflessner1.