A trend in upscale hotels is to embrace the local community, and make this a selling point to guests — to participate in farmers markets, bring in local artists, and become the ‘passport to experience’ a location ‘indigenously’.
The Westin Austin Downtown is a new build hotel in the heart of Austin’s music scene that opened last year. But instead of celebrating the music, they’re suing over the noise.
Being in the middle of the music is the whole point and the hotel’s design embraced this. The lobby is inspired by a Gibson guitar from the artwork behind the check-in desk to the strings hanging from the ceiling.
These are guitar picks over the bed.
Here’s a guitar picture in the bathroom.
Being right on sixth street means you’re going to hear music that plays into the night. Because that’s where the clubs are which are permitted to play outdoor amplified music until 2 a.m. That’s why I wrote,
You’re in the middle of downtown Austin, on 6th street no less, the epicenter of bars and music venues so there’s going to be noise. The location is mostly a plus for the hotel, but the drawback is the same as it’s core selling proposition.
…if you’re sensitive to noise, and want the quietest room possible, definitely request something on the 5th street side.
The Westin, though, is apparently suing a neighboring music venue and seeking an injunction against them so that they can’t make noise late at night.
The Nook Amphitheater next door says they worked with the hotel during the construction phase and shared sound testing with them. They test their sound levels every 30 minutes. They’re using the same equipment they were using before the hotel was built. And they say they’re within the area’s noise ordinance.
The City of Austin found that the hotel was constructed with “nearly no low frequency sound mitigating materials built into the building.”
While the Westin’s lawsuit says they’ve spent an additional $1 million on sound mitigation since opening,
The documents reveal that on Sept. 12, the city performed a second sound analysis on the Westin’s 10th floor, which has been retrofitted with additional soundproofing. The data confirms that higher-pitched frequencies were dampened slightly, but there was almost no difference in the bass volume.
“This is probably due to the wrong material being used to try to mitigate low frequencies,” concludes the report, adding that the Westin achieved the lowest environmental-design rating and neglected to conduct a pre-build acoustical analysis.
Other hotels near loud venues triple-paned glass to keep out sound. The Westin’s General Manager told me last year that they opened with only single pane glass, and retrofitted to double pane initially on the Sixth Street side of the building in their first few months.
In any case if music venues aren’t breaking the law, and were in place before the hotel was there — and indeed the hotel’s whole point was to market themselves as right in the heart of the music scene — it seems truly unreasonable to sue an adjacent venue.
Of course the Nook Amphitheater must spend to defend the suit, and lawsuits frequently aren’t about who would prevail on the merits of the law but on whom can impose high enough costs on the other party to either force them to change behavior or to pay a tax lower than the expected cost of litigation.
This strategy, however, may backfire on the Westin because they’re getting absolutely hammered by the community on Yelp.