Oct. 07--AZTEC -- Aztec now has 70 more beds to offer its visitors.

Although delayed by a couple of days, the new Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham in Aztec opened its doors for business at noon Friday.

Located at the south end of downtown Aztec near the intersection of Pepsi Way and U.S. Highway 550, the hotel is positioned to capture motorists traveling up from Albuquerque or down from Durango, Colo.

And the availability of added lodging for tourists couldn't have come at a better time. With events like the Aztec Highland Games and Celtic Music Festival and the Northern Navajo Nation Fair drawing visitors to the area over the weekend, the opening offered tourists the chance to spend the night in historic downtown.

Part of the Wyndham brand, the hotel offers amenities like rooms with free Wi-Fi, a heated pool and hot tub, fitness center, outdoor fire pit with amphitheater seating, walking trails, RV parking and a dog run.

The hotel allows guests' pets to stay with their owners overnight with a $20 deposit, according to Chuck Eberhardt, the hotel's general manager.

"This is a phenomenal property with all this space out back and views of the surrounding mountains," said Lori Brookshire, marketing director for Sky Hospitality, which oversees the property. "One of our goals is to make Aztec a stopping place, not a passing-through place, for motor coaches and event-goers."

Aztec City Manager Joshua Ray is equally enthusiastic.

"The Microtel is very exciting for the city of Aztec," Ray said. "We look forward to a long and healthy relationship with Sky Hospitality and Microtel. We are confident this property will be a model of excellence."

Along with the city, Aztec businesses are hopeful that the new lodgings will pay dividends.

"I think (the motel's opening) will be a positive. All the local businesses need it," said Leesa Akin, manager at Rubio's Fine Mexican Dining on South Main Avenue. "We're all for it. This area definitely needs it. We need more jobs, more business -- we need a whole lot more of everything."

Dale Anderson has owned and operated Aztec Media in downtown Aztec for close to 25 years with his business partner, Anna Chavez. Anderson believes the hotel's brand will raise the city's reputation as an enjoyable place to visit.

"I think it's really important to have an internationally recognized chain hotel in the community," Anderson said. "That they can take bookings from around the country, if not abroad, is key. The community has to recognize the importance of being tied into international chains that can draw people and provide services that the average traveler needs, wants and expects."

A grand opening is scheduled in mid-November. Reservations can be made by calling 505-334-4014.

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.

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