LA Ave frozen

Interstate 10 at Louisiana Ave. covered in ice as a winter storm hits on Monday. The frigid weather that iced over Baton Rouge and knocked out power for thousands of people is providing a boost to local hotel operators.

The frigid weather that iced over Baton Rouge and knocked out power for thousands of people is providing a boost to local hotel operators.

Paul Arrigo, president and chief executive officer of Visit Baton Rouge, said the storm filled up every available hotel room in the area on Monday and Tuesday night. An unknown number of hotels weren’t able to open because they didn’t have power or were unable to bring in staff. It will be two weeks before it’s known how many of the 8,444 hotel rooms in the area filled up because of the storm.

The boost in business was welcome, Arrigo said, since even though Mardi Gras parades didn’t roll in Baton Rouge this year, the holiday still wiped out government and corporate travel.

Hotels have seen a dip in customers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the downturn in travel and business meetings. The occupancy rate in metro Baton Rouge for the week ending Feb. 13 was 54%, Arrigo said. That compares to 61% for the same week a year ago.

“This was supposed to be a slow week with Mardi Gras and kids being out of school,” said Scott Michelet, president of the Baton Rouge Lodging Association. “This was an influx in business we did not anticipate.”

Michelet, who serves as the general manager of Crowne Plaza Baton Rouge, said every one of the 294 rooms in his hotel was occupied by either locals, who wanted to get away from power outages, or utility workers, who came in to help turn electricity back on.


Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.