|By Roni Reino, Foster's Daily Democrat,
Dover, N.H.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 10, 2010 --PORTSMOUTH -- With the help of Portsmouth elected officials, local business owners and guests, The Residence Inn by Marriot celebrated its Grand Opening with a gala event on Wednesday evening.
"This is a wonderful addition to Portsmouth that will expand the downtown and stimulate our economy," Mayor Tom Ferrini said.
The new eco-friendly hotel and adjacent Portsmouth Harbor Events and Conference Center are Phase 1 of Portwalk, a mixed-use development. On Wednesday it opened its doors for tours of its rooms and conference centers.
"We started this project less than a year ago," said Mark Stebbins of Schleicher and Stebbins Hotels and part owner of the Residence Inn. "It was supposed to take 14 months."
The Residence Inn opened its doors on Thursday, May 20 with its first guests checking-in early that afternoon. Located downtown on Deer Street, the newest addition to the city is directly between its competition, The Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel and The Hilton Garden Inn. Its easy access to downtown will allow travelers access to local shops, museums, parks and numerous restaurants.
Owner of Maine-ly New Hampshire Ken Smith said he is excited to see an eco-friendly and LEED-certified business down the street from his shop. Impressed the hotel added CFL lighting and ample natural lighting, he said he was glad they took the next step to being "green."
"It adds that extra element," he said.
Smith also noted since the opening of the hotel in May, he has seen an increase in sales at his shop that is also located on Deer Street. The hotel's placement extends downtown out to Deer Street, giving more opportunities for shopping along that area, Smith said.
This is the 604th Residence Inn and the 19th Colwen Property, but it is even more exciting because when it receives its certification, it will be the first and only LEED-certified hotel in the city. The new 128-room hotel is expected to be Silver LEED using USGBC's leading ranking classification for designing and constructing the world's greenest, most energy-efficient and high-performing buildings.
Following eco-friendly trends, the hotel uses CFL lights, "green" chemicals for cleaning, and low-flow showers and toilets. Rooms have king beds with pull out sofas and are intended for extended stays of five nights or more. The project is a joint venture between Cathartes Private Investments and S & S Hotels. It was constructed by ProCon, Inc and managed by Colwen Management.
In the next few weeks, the Portsmouth Harbor Events and Conference Center will open. For now, it is still under construction, but plans show clean lines and ample lighting. Events Manger Kara Townley has already booked weddings.
"Brides have loved the openness of it," she said of the ballroom, which will easily seat 300 once it is completed and can also be divided into four separate rooms for multipurpose occasions.
The conference center will also bring in more conferences to the area, according to General Manager Scott Bennett. The five rooms at the conference center and the one in the hotel offer spacious options for groups.
Portsmouth Regional Hospital spokeswoman Nancy Notis attended the gala to see what options the Residence Inn might allow for conferences. She said it looked like with the new space, it would allow more options for large groups to come and hold conferences.
The hotel includes environmentally sound and modern amenities including a custom designed lobby, complimentary breakfast, spacious suites, luxury bedding, free Wi-Fi access, fully-equipped EnergyStar kitchens, an indoor pool, a fitness center and business center with Internet, fax and printers.
On site and valet parking will be $12 a day. Like its neighboring hotels, the Residence Inn will allow pets at the hotel, for a fee of $75 a stay.
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Copyright (c) 2010, Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.
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