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Kelly Inns Limited Opening its Third Hotel in Billings,
the 90 room Best Western Kelly Inn
By Olivia Koernig, Billings Gazette, Mont.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Aug. 27, 2006 - What's the difference between a hotel and a motel?

"I'm not the expert," said Brenda Schmidt, CEO of Kelly Inns Limited, based in Sioux Falls, S.D. "I think hotel is just the term everyone's using these days."

What Schmidt does know, however, is the distinction between an ordinary hotel and the inn-and-suites variety.

"To qualify, at least 20 percent of the rooms need to be oversized," Schmidt said.

And the latest addition to Kelly Inn Limited's hotel development in Billings will feature mostly oversized rooms. The new hotel, which will be called Best Western Kelly Inn and Suites, is under construction on Southgate Drive. Its rooms will have microwave ovens, refrigerators and whirlpool bathtubs. Several will have fireplaces.

"Our rooms are going to be unique," Joyce Bratland said.

She and her husband, Randy, have managed the Best Western for the past three years. Before that, they managed the Best Western Locomotive in Laurel for 25 years. The couples' next offices will be in the new hotel.

"Our experience with Best Western lent itself to making us the logical choice," Bratland said.

The new hotel will have 90 rooms, starting around $75 per night. Like many hotels, it will offer an expanded continental breakfast and a meeting space. The meeting room will accommodate up to 100 people.

Another feature will be the business center, a place where guests can access fax and copy services as well as the Internet. There will also be a fitness room and a pool.

One feature that Bratland and Schmidt are particularly excited about is the hotel's pool. The "water playland" will feature sprayers, a small slide and a jungle-gym-like obstacle course with a net. Bratland said the area will target families.

"It's a place for... small kids, for when you can't drive a long way but you want a mini-vacation," Bratland said.

Both women also said the hotel will have a rustic, country charm, which they expect to be well-received. The building will have the look of a log cabin, with wooden animal carvings outside. The cabin motif will continue indoors, promoting the comfortable, cozy setting. There will be a three-story rock fireplace in the lobby. Exposed log beams and Western-inspired decorations will round out the theme.

Schmidt said the highest standards were upheld with the building and the amenities. Although a South Dakota-based company, Probuilt, is the main contractor, much of the labor has been subcontracted locally. US Bank financed the project.

"We're very proud of what we have," Schmidt said.

The Best Western Kelly Inn will join its sisters properties, the Kelly Inn and Best Western. Kelly opened in 1987 and Best Western in 1995.

When the new hotel celebrates its grand opening in November, Best Western will be renamed Clubhouse Inn and Suites. The new name will be the finishing touch to the $150,000 renovation the hotel underwent earlier this year.

Applications for employment at the new hotel will be accepted starting in October. Bratland expects to hire 20 full- and part-time employees.

She said there will be some benefits available to all employees, with full benefits to those who work more than 30 hours a week.

Bratland said she's excited to help start up the new property. She also said she's thankful to be staying with the same company.

"Kelly Inns Limited is like a big family. We've felt like a part of that family since the beginning," Bratland said. "That won't change."

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To see more of the Billings Gazette, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.billingsgazette.com.

Copyright (c) 2006, Billings Gazette, Mont.

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