News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Doug LeDuc, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 11--FORT WAYNE, Ind.--The company that tore down the former Days Inn at Lima Road and Interstate 69 a little more than a year ago plans to build a six- story, full-service hotel at that location.
Valparaiso-based Focus Enterprises will begin construction this spring on a 130-room Holiday Inn there, said Kevin Carlson, executive vice president.
The company plans to open it in the spring of 2003. It is looking for a developer to build a free-standing restaurant next to the hotel, and will most likely go with a national chain. The hotel also will have its own restaurant and lounge.
Focus tore down the Days Inn at the location because "it was just functionally obsolete, an inefficient use of the land," Carlson said.
"It was a sprawling building. And it was not well maintained ... in need of too many repairs to put it in its former state."
The company plans to spend more than $10 million on the project, which will be its first full-service hotel. The Holiday Inn will employ about 40.
Focus owns and operates 20 limited-service hotels, including 13 in northern Indiana. It developed all of those properties. It also manages a few hotels for other owners.
The company chose Fort Wayne for its first full-service project because the city has strong demand for rooms when the economy is healthy. It has been more than 15 years since anyone built a large, full-service hotel here, Carlson said.
It chose the Days Inn location for its access to the interstate and "because ... it's a straight shot downtown or to the Coliseum or the mall," he said.
The hotel will seek to attract business travelers on weekdays and families on weekends, particularly those planning weddings.
The Holiday Inn will have 6,000 square feet of meeting and conference space. Its food service will handle everything from room service to catering to banquets.
The meeting space will be able to accommodate banquets serving groups of up to 425, Carlson said.
Focus plans to outfit the hotel with a one-stop wedding boutique, with everything needed to plan and hold a wedding except the dress, he said. Its services will include catering, photography, flower arranging and tuxedo rental.
To help attract families for weekend getaways, the hotel's swimming pools "are going to have some small slides and things that will be very kid-friendly," Carlson said. The hotel also will have an exercise facility and an arcade.
The guest rooms will be "wider than a typical room, to give a little more size to them," he said. "There's a fair number of large suites (planned for) the property, two-room suites and family-oriented suites." Some of the rooms will have showers instead of the standard tub-shower enclosures. Room rates at the Holiday Inn probably will exceed $89 a night.
Focus originally had planned to build a 200-room hotel that would be among the first patterned after a prototype designed by Holiday Inn, but modified its plans after a close look at the local market.
The national chain "is working right now on developing a prototype for 125 to 150 rooms -- something smaller. But they have not come out with it yet, so we are kind of creating our own," Carlson said.
-----To see more of The News-Sentinel, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.FortWayne.com
(c) 2002, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. CD, SXC,