Hotels as economic indicators?

Providence's grand Biltmore Hotel, built in 1922.

Providence's grand Biltmore Hotel, built in 1922.


From Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

For some reason, news  of the recent proliferation of hotel projects in Providence recalled to me the late film mogul Sir Alexander Korda’s remark that you should “always go to the best hotel…{because} sooner or later someone will appear who will give you money.’’

At last count, there were a total of eight hotels being built or planned in Providence. I have to think that this suggests that there’s more business confidence in the future of the city and Rhode Island than most citizens think. Hotels, after all, cater to businesspeople and tourists.

Presumably the hotel developers believe that there will be more economic activity in the city in the next few years. It’s hard to figure out how much of this is due to the Raimondo administration’s relentless courting of companies to get them to move to Providence, how much to firms’ interpretation of general national and regional business cycles and how much to Providence’s proximity to booming Greater Boston.

The new hotels will boost the city in some rather indirect ways. Hotels, especially their lobbies,  function rooms and restaurants, are natural meeting places for businesses. Thus they make cities more dynamic for deal-making. Airbnbs and bed and breakfasts don’t quite do that.

Some old hospitals can be turned into very nice hotels, as a recent Washington Post article reported.  Many more hospitals are likely to close as outpatient institutions and home care provide services, even acute-care services, that used to be only available in hospitals, and as new pharmaceuticals and medical devices make it easier to avoid hospitalization. To read The Washington Post article, please hit this link:

As I’ve written before, Pawtucket’s Memorial Hospital’s attractive and very solid buildings could be turned into a large assisted living center, condos, apartments or even, yes, a hotel.