esidence Inn by Marriott , downtown West Palm Beach

A new 152-room Residence Inn by Marriott under construction on Hibiscus Street in downtown West Palm Beach is now expected to open in December 2014. ( Mark Randall, South Florida Sun Sentinel / July 9, 2014)

As tourism rebounds, developers are building more hotel rooms in Palm Beach County than they have in years.

Seven hotels with more than 1,100 rooms are expected to be done by early 2016, with more than 1,200 more planned in hotel developments still awaiting approval, county data show.

It is the biggest hotel surge in the county in at least 14 years. The number of hotels has fallen steadily because of hurricane damage and because condo developers have bought many properties. The only growth since 2000 were two hotels added in each of 2003, 2008 and 2009.

Besides tourism, the boom in new hotels is driven by easier financing, the availability of land and the lack of hotels for sale, say experts in lodging real estate.

“We’re hearing there’s more interest in Palm Beach County for hotel development, both coastal and inland,” said Max Comess, a director of HFF in Miami. “There’s just not as many [sales] opportunities there. Owners of high-profile properties such as Boca Raton Resort & Club and

The Breakers Palm Beach are interested in owning these assets long-term.”

Last year, Palm Beach County was home to 164 hotels, down from 201 in 2000. The county had 2,195 fewer rooms than its peak of 17,900 in 2000, according to tourism records.

The number of new hotels, stores and attractions is likely to increase as tourism continues to grow, said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing agency.

In 2013, the destination welcomed a record 6 million visitors, up from a low of 4.12 million in 2009. By contrast, the county saw 5.38 million visitors in 2007.

As of April, Palm Beach County had recorded 50 consecutive months of improving tourism, records show. The first quarter ended with 86 percent hotel occupancy, compared with 83.1 percent in the same period last year, according to data from industry tracker STR.

Among the new hotels this year are the 179-room Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place; the 152-room Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown West Palm Beach; and the 95-room Fairfield Inn Delray Beach.

Last month, the 128-room Courtyard by Marriott Palm Beach Jupiter opened near Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

Construction on downtown West Palm Beach’s only extended-stay property — the Residence Inn by Marriott at 455 Hibiscus St. — is progressing for a December opening, a hotel spokesman said Wednesday.

“We’re very excited,” said William Meyer, chairman of Meyer Jabara Hotels in West Palm Beach, the hotel’s co-owner. “Hotels in West Palm Beach have been doing very well in the last 24 months — the market is doing nicely.”

The Residence Inn — across from City Place, the downtown retail and entertainment venue — is expected to attract leisure and business travelers, including those visiting hospitals and federal courthouses, Meyer said.

Farther north in Jupiter, finishing touches are being added to its latest hotel, set to open sometime this fall.

“Wyndham Grand Jupiter’s completion is now just around the corner,” General Manager Matt Boris said. Construction is 90 percent done.

asatchell@tribune.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport

Hotels and rooms, 2000-2013
2000: 201 hotels, 17,900 rooms
2001: 197, 17,632
2002: 192, 17,250
2003: 194, 17,367
2004: 192, 16,970
2005: 175, 15,898
2006: 170, 15,504
2007: 170, 15,522
2008: 172, 15,849
2009: 174, 16,228
2010: 169, 15,963
2011: 165, 15,902
2012: 165, 15,922
2013: 164, 15,705
Source: Discover The Palm Beaches

Hotels opening in 2014
Courtyard by Marriott Palm Beach Jupiter, 128 rooms, June
Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place, 179 rooms, September
Fairfield Inn Marriott, Delray Beach, 95 rooms, December
Residence Inn Marriott, downtown West Palm Beach, December