Sunday, August 3, 2014

Microtel Inn & Suites well under construction on Route 302 - By Elizabeth Richards

Construction has begun on a new Microtel Inn & Suites in Windham, with an anticipated opening date at the end of 2014. 
The project has been a long time coming. Erik Heyland, owner of Heyland Development, has owned the property since 2007. At that time he had been approved for a Microtel, but pulled back when the recession hit. Though he said they looked at alternate brands for the project, those didn’t fit the model like the Microtel does for that property. When financing was once again secured for a Microtel branded hotel, the project was up and running. “We think that this is going to serve a larger segment,” said Heyland.

In today’s market, Heyland said, guests are more savvy. They can research hotel brands online, read reviews, and have certain expectations for their stay. Because Microtel is a standards-based brand developed by the Wyndham Hotel Group, there are quality assurance scores the property must hit every year to maintain their franchise status. Customers may be more reluctant to stay in smaller, independently run motels if they can’t do their research, said Heyland. “We think in the Town of Windham this sets us apart from whoever else is in that space,” he said.

The hotel will attract a broad customer base, and span a variety of needs, including leisure traffic, visitors to Saint Joseph’s College, and business travelers, said Heyland. The hotel will also have extended stay accommodations, with small refrigerators and microwaves, for people with temporary housing needs. The building in Windham is a new prototype, which will offer an updated, fresh look in the décor, said Heyland. 

Christmas of 2014 is the targeted opening date for this first phase, which includes 58 rooms with queen sized beds, an indoor pool, fitness center, lobby area, free breakfast and a business center. The property will also offer trailer parking for those with boats or snowmobiles, and bus parking. Heyland said an expansion plan to bring the hotel to 74 rooms is already in place. He hopes to have the second phase completed within 18 months of opening.

Though the permit process was lengthy, Heyland said the Town of Windham has been very cooperative and helpful throughout the process. “They are excited about this project coming in. I’ve heard many times that this is an overdue project,” he said. 

 Tom Bartell, Executive Director of the Windham Economic Development Corporation, said that the project will fill a void in the region. There has been a lack of a branded hotel that can be part of a national reservation system, he said, and this project “fills that niche very nicely.”

Bartell said he’s heard from area businesses that when employees visit from outside of Maine, they have sent them to Portland, South Portland or Westbrook because there wasn’t a hotel of this type in Windham. He’s also heard from residents that when they have people come to visit them, there hasn’t been a place for them to stay. 

“The summer season is very full,” Bartell added. “It’s hard to get a space.” Camps and cottages fill up quickly, and in the winter, many are closed, he said. “[The Microtel] is a great asset that we are going to have,” he said. “I think it will be well received.”

Though there might be some concern from owners/operators of other accommodations, Bartell said the Microtel is really a different model, and will attract a different customer base. 

Heyland currently operates a Microtel Inn & Suites in York, Maine. Heyland said construction has been moving quickly and drawing attention. He has been receiving requests from people wishing to book rooms for next year. Reservations for the Windham Microtel can be booked now by calling the Microtel Inn & Suites in York, also managed by Heyland Development. The number for reservations is 207-363-0800.

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