LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Five days before British billionaire Sir Richard Branson launches into space, his team has booked half the hotel rooms at the Ramada hotel in Las Cruces, staff confirmed.
"It's exciting!" said Maryann Costa, an administrative assistant at the hotel. "Everybody’s like, ‘Yeah! This is going to be great!'"
She hopes to learn on Wednesday whether her hotel will host Branson himself.
"It is an honor and a pleasure," Costa said. "I think Las Cruces deserves the kind of focus we're going to get from this."
Across town, a receptionist with Hotel Encanto told ABC-7 over the phone that the hotel would be closed over the weekend for construction. When an ABC-7 crew stopped by the lobby, all staffers ignored questions and walked back into an office behind the front desk.
In the parking lot, another individual also declined to say whether Hotel Encanto hosting Spaceport visitors.
"I do know that," he said, but "I can't tell you anything."
ABC-7 approached another man with a Unity 22 lanyard and attempted to ask him if he was associated with the Spaceport. When an ABC-7 staffer started recording, he grabbed the cell phone and said it was "inappropriate."
There are more than 3,100 hotel and motel rooms across the city, according to data shared with ABC-7 by Visit Las Cruces. The visitor center did not yet have an estimate of how many out-of-town guests will visit this weekend.
"This launch will give us a good gauge for subsequent launches," said Pahl Dahlgren, a spokesman for Visit Las Cruces. “We know this event is going to generate a lot of interest on the national and international scale.”
In 2019, the city had about about 750,000 visitors who spent almost $200 a day, Dahlgren said.