Gay-owned hotel offers rooms for $1

A buck will barely get you a pack of gum in today’s economy, but that’s all you need for a night in a local hotel.

The gay-owned-and-operated Alexander Inn, at 12th and Spruce streets in the Gayborhood, recently launched a new promotion, the “Guest Stimulus Plan,” which enables guests to stay in several of the boutique hotel’s rooms for just a dollar and change. The hotel’s innkeeper, John Cochie, said the special was design to encourage tourists to spend their vacation savings on Philadelphia attractions.

Cochie started considering the promotion after he attended a meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association in late February that provided a bleak outlook for the city’s tourism situation.

“With the economic trends, we were looking at some relatively dismal forecast numbers, and some of the general managers sitting next to me were singing the blues a little bit about being confronted with things like employee layoffs,” Cochie said. “I came back to the office and started thinking about this clip of Barack Obama on CNN recently where he said that we have to speak positively and have to build the foundation first.”

Cochie said he brainstormed with Alexander Inn owner Mel Heifitz and decided upon the daring $1-a-night special to grab the attention of tourists and encourage them to become repeat guests both at the hotel and in the city.

“We sent out messages to some 12,000 previous guests at the hotel and then to a list of about 60-65 gay and straight media contacts,” Cochie said. “We went to the media because we were hopeful to get to people who’ve never been here before and introduce them to the inn and to the Center City area. We’re hopeful that the return on that investment is that these guests will return time after time when they come to the city.”

The hotel is offering five of its 48 rooms — each of which has a full-, twin- or queen-sized bed — for $1.15 (including tax) Sundays-Thursdays through June 11.

Rooms can be booked no longer than one month in advance. For instance, if you’re looking for a room for April 28, sales open up at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Although guests are welcome to stay for several nights, there is no minimum stay is required for the $1 rate.

The rooms up for grabs typically go for $119-$169.

Cochie said he’s confident that the special will pay off for the hotel, “solidifying what is already a huge repeat-guest base.”

The promotion already seems to be generating a great deal of buzz: In the first five days after the kick-off, the hotel’s Web site traffic shot up 274 percent, the number of reservations more than doubled and calls increased nearly 200 percent.

“The response has just been phenomenal,” Cochie said.

In addition to heightening the visibility of the Alexander Inn, Cochie said he’s eager for the promotion to provide the city’s tourism industry a much-needed monetary shot in the arm.

“Our intention was to put the money these people would spend on a hotel back into their pockets so that they can spend it in the neighborhood, whether that’s for museum admission, theater tickets, dinners out, frequenting some of the night spots or at small businesses.”

For more information, call (215) 923-3535 or (877) ALEX-INN or visit www.alexanderinn.com.

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].