by VERONICA GORDON
Buda business owners are working hard to be ready for the first Formula 1 race in November.
Crews are working weekends at the 83-room Microtel behind Cabela’s in order to be open before race day.
“I’m standing here looking at a beautiful hotel that’s ahead of schedule,” said Ted Torres of International Hospitality Development Alliances.
Torres said that Microtel is scheduled to open in October.
“The track is going to have a tremendous economic impact on the area,” Torres said. “It’s only 11 miles away. It’s a positive boom. We are already a partner hotel with Circuit of the Americas, with a 10-year contract.”
Torres said rooms are already booked up for the dates of the races.
“Our competition is charging two and a half times our rates,” Torres added. “That’s not what we’re doing. Rather than charging more, we want the same customers to come back for 10 years knowing they’re being charged a normal rate.”
The Formula 1 track off Texas State Highway130 in Elroy is expected to draw up to 1.2 million visitors to the Austin area each year. The track will include a 210-foot tower and the largest amphitheater in Central Texas. It will host music festivals and other events.
Hampton Inn & Suites General Manager Rick Crain said his staff is prepared for the surge of customers the race will bring.
“We’re already sold out of rooms for the week of the race,” Crain said.
Crain also manages Comfort Suites.
“We have a few rooms left at that location,” he said. “But not very many.”
Crain said he’s excited about the economic impact the race will have on local businesses.
“It’s a first-time thing, so we are excited to see what happens,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”
Buda Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cindy Swink said she is looking forward to working with the Circuit of the Americas to find opportunities for local businesses.
“I would like to see how we could capitalize on the traffic that F1 will bring to the area,” Swink said. “And I want to find out how we can tap into that revenue stream.”
Buda Director of Tourism Alisha Burrow is planning bus tours of the city for race fans.
She recently presented the city council with details about the “tourism experience” that would promote downtown businesses.
“We want to put our best foot forward this first year,” Burrow said. “We are training our volunteers in international etiquette for interacting with people from other cultures.”
Burrow said the city plans to advertise Buda at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.
“That way we can get them to notice us right off the plane,” she said. “It’s also cheaper than billboards along the highway.”
Despite the excitement some business owners have expressed, a manager at America’s Best Value Inn, who asked not to be identified, said his hotel is not anticipating a large number of bookings.
“We’ve gotten a few calls and reservations and even some cancellations,” he said. “But not that much. The race track still has a lot of work to be done, so maybe we’ll see an increase. We are prepared, but I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal.”