|By Candace Renalls, Duluth News
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 03, 2012--The Edgewater Express on Duluth's London Road will close today and reopen Wednesday as a Days Inn.
But the sister hotel to the much larger Edgewater Resort and Waterpark across the street isn't being sold.
Days Inn Lakewalk Duluth, as it will be called, will remain part of ZMC Hotels family of inns. Besides the Edgewater complex, it also owns the Inn on the Lake Superior and Best Western Downtown Motel in Duluth and Best Western Bridgeview Motor Inn in Superior.
"We will make it its own identity," Bill DeSanto, ZMC's chief operating officer, said of the new Day's Inn at 2211 London Road. "We're pretty excited about it."
DeSanto -- who likened their going from four to five hotels in town to spawning a baby -- said that it will fill a niche in that part of town.
"This will be a franchise property in the east end of Duluth that's been missing since we took (Best Western) out five years ago," he said, referring to the motel's former affiliation.
Moreover, franchises like Days Inn have a following, he said.
"Days Inn is a good senior hotel, a good corporate hotel and there's demand for that," he said.
Among ZMC's 32 hotels in 11 states are another Days Inn in Green Bay and a hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz, that's also being converted to a Days Inn.
The Day's Inn near Miller Hill Mall in Duluth is under different ownership.
The 64-room Edgewater Express built in 1972 is currently operated during the busy summer season and on weekends. Besides overflow from the Edgewater, the quieter setting is popular among corporate guests and senior citizens, he said.
"We remodeled the building extensively three years ago," DeSanto said. "We spent about $1 million. So it's in beautiful shape."
Because the two Edgewater motels operated together, the Express's lobby and front desk were removed about 15 years ago. Since then, its guests have checked in across the street, he said.
A lobby and front desk are back.
"We just want to make it more convenient for customers with a front desk," he said. Moreover, Days Inn is part of a national registration system that generates rooms, he said.
Those who stayed at the Edgwater Express, on the upper side of London Road, could use the waterpark across the street at no cost.
"That will change," DeSanto said. "The hotel will be a standalone hotel. They have the option to go to the waterpark and buy wristbands (to get in)."
Room rates, which currently are lower than the Edgewater Water Park and Resort, will be even lower, running from $79 a night on weekdays to $129 on weekends this time of year.
Competition will be with similar hotel franchises such as Best Westerns, he said.
(c)2012 the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.)
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