|By Jon Cawley, Daily Press, Newport News,
Va.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Aug. 12, 2006 - GLOUCESTER -- Lodging options for Gloucester visitors will get a significant boost next year with the construction of an 80-room Hampton Inn hotel.
A group of Gloucester investors purchased franchise rights for a Hampton Inn expected to open next summer. Company officials plan to break ground this fall, and construction will take about 10 months, said Craig Larson, regional director of operations for Lane Hospitality, the Illinois-based company that will manage the hotel.
The three-story hotel will employ 25 to 30 people. Larson said the building site would be located adjacent to the six-year-old Comfort Inn or about a quarter mile south of that location along Route 17.
The intersection of Route 17 and the bypass road to Main Street has bustled with the addition of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Home Depot and several national restaurant chains.
"Look at what has transpired there in the last four to five years. It seems to be the hub of the wheel in Gloucester County," Larson said.
"It's where we are and where we want to be."
The new hotel would offer a large meeting room able to accommodate 75 to 100 people but no restaurant, Larson said. Other amenities include complimentary breakfast and wireless Internet access, indoor swimming pool, exercise room, gift shop and coin-operated laundry.
For years, Gloucester has attempted to cultivate tourism, especially along Main Street and the Colonial Courthouse area located about a mile from the Route 17 intersection.
Doug Meredith, county director of economic development, said a new hotel would increase hotel and meals tax income that funds tourism related programs.
Like the planned Hampton Inn, franchise rights for Gloucester's other hotel - The Comfort Inn on Forest Hill Avenue - are owned by investors with Gloucester Motel One, LLC.
Lane Hospitality manages the Hampton Inn Suites in Newport News and the Crown Pointe Marina in Hayes.
In addition to the Comfort Inn, which has 79 rooms, Gloucester's lodging options include a couple of motels and several bed and breakfasts. The Gloucester Inn Motel, at Gloucester Point, has 16 rooms with a 23-bed capacity while the Tidewater Motel, in Hayes, has 33 rooms with 46 beds.
Daniel MacDonald, a Gloucester Inn Motel manager, predicted the new hotel would be good for the county but bad for business at the smaller lodgers.
He said his motel couldn't match the amenities offered by the chain hotels, but has lower rates that appeal to out-of-town construction workers and fishermen.
Troy Stavens, the owner of the Inn at Warner Hall, said he offers 20 rooms and Gloucester's remaining bed and breakfasts provide another 20 rooms. His biggest business comes from weddings and special events where additional lodging options for the guests of his guests would be helpful.
"I think Gloucester needed more space. I'm not worried," Stavens said. "As far as I'm concerned it's a benefit."
Copyright (c) 2006, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.
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