BLOOMINGTON — Home football games are a big deal at Indiana University. Once the dates are announced, people plan months in advance, buying tickets and booking a place to stay. Audrey Fox, an IU grad, is one of those people.
"Back in early July, I got online and the Wingate had some of the nicer rooms that were still a reasonable for a home football weekend. I went ahead and booked at hotels.com. Had no problem," Fox said.
Fox said her sister did the same thing through another site. Recently, however, something odd happened with her sister's reservation.
"She called me about a week and a half ago and said, 'Hey my reservation just got canceled.' I immediately called the hotel and asked if my reservation was still valid and they said it was," Fox said.
Fox's sister showed her the email she received from the site she used to book the hotel. It detailed how the Wingate by Wyndham Bloomington wouldn't be able to honor the reservation. It said operations would permanently close Oct. 1.
"I had my husband call a few days later and he was able to get someone at the front desk that eventually admitted yeah, we're closing down and the reservations is going to be canceled," she said.
Patrick Tamm, president & CEO of the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging says a hotel shutting down during these difficult economic times isn't surprising. A recent report estimates Indiana hotels will be down around $645 million dollars in business travel revenue this year.
"A lot of hotels have been stretched awfully thin. That business travel is really kind of the lifeblood of hotels: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," Tamm said.
Hotels missing out on that business travel revenue are still trying to play catch up from last year, especially college towns like Bloomington according to Tamm.
"College towns last year didn't allow guests on campus. You didn't have fans in the stands at football games, basketball games, or soccer games for that matter," Tamm said.
Fox told WRTV she feels lucky she was able to find another room for her weekend trip. She hopes others with trips upended by Wingate's closure can do the same.
"Our trip is still over a month away, but people who might be trying to get a homecoming room, this is gonna be a huge wrench in their plans. I wanted somehow to let people know," she said.
WRTV has not heard back from Wingate by Wyndham about the reasons for closure. We do know the hotel was sold to a company that plans to convert the building into apartments. We do not have a timeline on when the apartments will be available to rent.
Visit Bloomington told WRTV the hotel closing won't have a huge impact on people visiting because the Wingate mostly served long-term extended-stay customers.