|By Don Dodson, The News-Gazette,
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 18, 2006 - URBANA -- Eager to appeal to a broader market, full-service hotels are building limited-service motels nearby in hopes of snagging customers willing to pay less for a little less.
The most recent example: a new Holiday Inn Express that opened Dec. 28 in Urbana, adjacent to the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center.
The new 74-room hotel, at 1003 W. Killarney St., has 18 suites, as well as an indoor swimming pool, exercise room, small meeting room and business center.
But it doesn't have all the amenities of its big brother next door.
"The Holiday Inn Express is a limited-service facility that doesn't have a restaurant, bar or banquet space," explained Jeff Edwards, general manager of the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center.
Nevertheless, it's owned and operated by the same companies that own and operate the Holiday Inn, and the two inns share housekeeping and maintenance staff, he said.
Pairing full-service and limited-service options together is becoming more common for lodging chains, Edwards said.
"A lot of hotels are doing that now," he said. "It opens up another avenue of what we can do with group business. We've got groups we would go after and target, but we couldn't necessarily accommodate them with all the rooms in our hotel."
The addition of the Holiday Inn Express gives him more flexibility to handle the groups, he said.
Express hotels appeal to a "completely different customer" than those who traditionally stay in full-service hotels, Edwards said.
For one thing, costs are different. Rates at the Holiday Inn Express range from $89 to $139 a night, depending on the room and season or roughly about $10 less than the Holiday Inn, he said.
Another example of two related hotels appealing to different markets is the Hilton Garden Inn and the Homewood Suites by Hilton. Those two hotels are being built at the former site of the Chancellor Hotel, near the corner of Kirby Avenue and Neil Street in Champaign.
The Hilton Garden Inn will be a full-service hotel with restaurant and bar, while the nearby Homewood Suites will cater to extended-stay guests, said Paul Tatman, one of the developers involved in the project.
Tatman said he's hoping the hotels will be ready to open in September. Footings and foundation work for the Homewood Suites have been completed, he said.
Meanwhile, the former Chancellor building being renovated for the Hilton Garden Inn has been gutted, and part of the framing for it has been completed, he said.
The three-story Holiday Inn Express project in Urbana, which started last summer, cost "in the $4 million range," Edwards said. Like the Holiday Inn, it is owned by Urbana Motel Partners and operated by Johnson Development Co. of Springfield.
Johnson Development also owns two Hampton Inns and a Staybridge Suites, all in Springfield, plus a Hampton Inn in East Peoria.
The Holiday Inn Express in Urbana is run by General Manager Kim Filla. It offers a free breakfast bar to guests, as well as in-room coffee, free high-speed Internet access and a "smart" bathroom with pressure- and temperature-regulated shower heads. Its business center offers guest computers and printing and faxing capabilities.
Filla went through a management training program at one of Johnson Development's Springfield properties before being assigned to Urbana. She has a front-desk staff of seven employees and reports directly to Edwards.
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Copyright (c) 2006, The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
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