Once the automobile manufacturing capital of the world, Detroit has undergone a massive shift in its demographics and identity since its population peaked at 1.8 million in the 1950s. In the six decades since then, the city has dropped to less than 700,000, according to census data.
However, the renaissance of this iconic American city is moving full steam ahead. In 2016, the city hosted 19 million visitors who spent $6 billion. More than two million of the visitors in 2016 came from international destinations, according to the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau; that number was a 111-percent increase from the 2013 total for the same demographic.
As of 2019, there were more than 5,000 hotel rooms in downtown Detroit and approximately 42,000 in the metropolitan area, according to a report from Visit Detroit. Millions of dollars have been spent to renovate and build hotels all over town. Recently, a $30-million renovation to the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center made way for 1,246 guestrooms with 52 suites and 100,000 square feet of event space.
A new 158-room Cambria Hotel, built by Choice Hotels, is expected to open its doors later this year as part of a mixed-use development featuring food and retail tenants. The $50-million hotel project features meeting spaces, a grand ballroom, modern fixtures such as Bluetooth mirrors in bathrooms, and spa-like amenities throughout the building. The 100-room Foundation Hotel, built inside the historic Detroit Fire Department headquarters, was included on TIME magazine’s 100 Greatest Places and was also recognized as one of the best new hotels in the world by Condé Nast Traveler. In all, Detroit has a handful of historic hotels to match its equally rich culture and commerce history.
FROM THEN TO NOW
Detroit’s history extends beyond being Motor City and the birthplace of Motown. The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau was the first of its kind in the entire world when it was founded in 1896. The DMCVB is a private organization that runs on a not-for-profit and membership model that includes more than 700 businesses.
Detroit also is home to the 17th-largest convention center in the United States, the TCF Center, which is named after a local financial institution. Situated alongside the Detroit River, the facility features 2.4 million square feet of space and has five exhibit halls, eight banquet rooms, and 80 meeting rooms. The TCF Center serves 1.5 million visitors annually and hosted a record-high 244 events in 2018, which led to a 564 percent increase in revenue since 2009 and underwent a $279-million renovation from 2011 to 2015, according to the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority.
If there is one thing to know about Detroit right now, it’s that the city is a bourgeoning hotbed of engineering, fashion, startup, and cuisine. It is reinventing itself as a cultural phenomenon. Tourism and accommodations are both trending up, and the temperature is rising.
In the past few years, Detroit has seen massive hospitality development. As of 2019, there were:
- 5,000+ guestrooms in the downtown area
- Approximately 42,000 guestrooms in the metropolitan area
- $30 million in renovations toward the Detroit Marriott at Renaissance Center
- A brand-new 158-room Cambria Hotel, slated to open later this year