Williston, North Dakota has seen its population double in the past eight years since fracking made this town the oil rush capital of the west. The town with a 2010 census population of 14,716 residents has grown to about 20,000 residents and another 10,000 workers housed in “man camps” in the surrounding area. Williston has had a construction boom in the hotel sector from seven hotels with 607 rooms in January 2010 to 23 hotels and 1,967 rooms today and two hotels with 500 rooms just outside the city limits.
The Bakken Formation of oil shale sitting underneath Williston is the largest producer of oil in the U.S. today and North Dakota is only surpassed by Texas in oil production. The number of producing oil wells in North Dakota grew from 470 to 3,377 between January 2008 and January 2012. Daily oil production increased from 36,000 barrels of oil in January 2008 to 481,000 barrels in January 2012. (Source: American Oil & Gas Reporter).
The North Dakota Hotel Boom
The housing shortage is creating demand for the limited number of hotel rooms available near production sites. Therefore, for visiting energy company executives or managers on site for limited periods, the expense of visiting production sites has risen significantly. The lack of supply has resulted in skyrocketing hotel rates.
For example, on a recent stay, a run-of-the-mill hotel room near Epping, N.D., (with a permanent population of 109) required a three-day minimum at $267 a night. A comparable hotel room in suburban Houston on the same dates likely would have cost more than $100 a night less, and would not have required a minimum stay.
American Oil & Gas Reporter (October 2013)
Williston’s Visitor Bureau representative states hotel rates drop significantly over the weekends making the destination family-friendly. Although the lines for McDonald’s and WalMart are said to be legendary. The issue is not hotels are fully occupied. Occupancy averages under 60%. Hotels are just too expensive for most folk.
TripAdvisor and Kayak show 22 hotels in Williston, ND.
Williston hotel rates for Monday April 28 to Thursday, May 1 (3-night stay).
- Hampton Inn and Suites Williston = $249/night. TripAdvisor #2
- Holiday Inn Express Williston = $240 TripAdvisor #12
- Microtel Williston (Wyndham Rewards) $239 TripAdvisor #3
- MainStay Suites Williston (Choice Privileges) $220 TripAdvisor #1
- Candlewood Suites Williston (IHG Rewards Club) $198 TripAdvisor #10
- Best Western Plus Williston $187 TripAdvisor #4
These chain brand hotels are the most expensive. The other hotel options range from 4-star to 1-star properties with rates from $105 for the 1-star Motel 6 to $199 for the HomStay Suites or $225 for The Brooks, a four star hotel in Williston.
Williston Hotel Rates for Friday May 2-Sunday May 4 (2-night weekend stay)
- MainStay Suites Williston (Choice Privileges 30,000 points) $195
- Holiday Inn Express Williston = $164 (IHG Rewards Club 20,000 points)
- Hampton Inn and Suites Williston = $159 (HHonors Category 4 at 30,000 points)
- Microtel Williston (Wyndham Rewards) $139 (Wyndham Rewards 30,000 points)
- Candlewood Suites Williston $126 (IHG Rewards Club 35,000 points)
- Best Western Plus Williston $116 (Best Western Rewards 32,000 points)
Hotel rate are $90 to $100 less at several chain brands for weekend nights.
Hotel Reward Nights
Hampton Inn as Hilton HHonors category 4 has the most reasonably priced reward rate of these hotels along with HI Express at 20,000 points. I wonder if HHonors will boost the reward category in their changes coming in April.
Best Western, Choice and Wyndham hotel reward categories for these Williston, ND properties are near the top reward rates for their respective chains. Those are Manhattan NYC reward rates.
This article by Elizabeth Royte, This is Your Town on Fracking – June 2013, OnEarth.org provides an interesting observation by a writer who found herself stranded in Williston, ND for a day when her rental car broke down.
North Dakota and South Dakota are the only two states in the USA I have not yet visited. Not sure I can afford to travel there these days.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.