Hotel bookings for The Masters Tournament week began more than a year ago, and many hotels in the area reached zero availability several months in advance.
Kathryn Campbell, the general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn, said the going rate for Masters week is $450 per night, which translates to nearly $3,000 for the week.
While the amount seems pricey, Campbell said they've been full for months.
“It is the biggest event of the year, and it has a huge economic impact. It affects every aspect of our local economy in a positive light,” she said.
Like many hotels, Campbell said the preparation period is always a busy, but fun, time. This year, the Hilton paid for staff members to take the historic Aiken trolley tour so they would be prepared to answer questions about the area when customers came in for the week.
“We have people come from all over the world, which is amazing. These people like to be able to go out and eat and so we train our staff so we can better serve them,” she added.
Kathryn Tharp from Hampton Inn guest services, said the rate for the week is also $450. Also, like the Hilton, the Hampton prepares for the Masters in various ways.
“We always put together gifts for our guests, and this year we're doing shoe bags and shoe horns. So we take about a week in advance to make sure everything is prepared for that,” Tharp said.
In terms of economic impact, Tharp said the revenue generated helps the hotel balance out the slower parts of the year.
“It greatly helps us through our slow period, which is usually November through February,” she said. “And it also lets us have some fun so we can give back to the community. It's just such a great economic growth factor for Aiken.”
Less costly options have also sold out in Aiken. Nash Champaneri, manager of the Quality Inn, said the rate for the week is $250 per night.
In preparation, Champaneri added that they to do paint touchup, additional pressure washing and make sure the parking lot is neatly paved.
Like Tharp, Champaneri said the economic impact for his hotel is huge.
“It helps us pay our bills and offsets our expenses with big bills we have to pay each year,” he said. “Our guests definitely want clean rooms and friendly service, and we do all we can to provide that for them.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.