BY KELLY KENDALL
Bloomington will soon be rolling out a bigger welcome mat with the arrival of two new name-brand hotels downtown. Marriott and Hyatt will add 326 rooms and suites, a move that’s expected to raise the caliber of Bloomington’s lodging choices and also help the city attract conventions and special events that have so far been beyond its reach.
SpringHill Suites by Marriott has already been approved, with an expected opening by next Labor Day. The five-level, 158-suite hotel is going up at North College and West 9th Street. More recently, Hyatt announced a proposal for a seven-story, 168-room Hyatt Place, on West Kirkwood next to the B-Line Trail. That property will likely open in mid-2014.
Guests can expect indoor pools, fitness centers, and other upscale amenities at both hotels. “Certainly the names Marriott and Hyatt are recognized as leaders in the hospitality industry, and people associate them with quality,” says Mike McAfee, executive director of Visit Bloomington. “This helps upgrade our lodging industry and helps us take a step up as far as where people think about where they can stay.”
Visitors to Bloomington spend an average of $175 per person per trip in restaurants and shops, says McAfee, and the two new hotels will likely boost business, especially on weekdays. “The quality of those names can only help us,” he says, as will their close proximity to the convention center.
The local demand for hotel rooms made it an attractive place to build SpringHill Suites, says developer Paul Pruitt, principal owner of Bloomington-based KPM Hotel Group. As an all-suites hotel, Spring Hill caters mostly to professional guests, with perks like business centers and free Wi-Fi.
The Chicago-based Hyatt chain was also interested in a Midwestern market like Bloomington, says Jeremy Stephenson, vice president of development with REI Investments, based in Indianapolis. “The Hyatt Place brand is a really attractive one for cities that have some vibrancy,” he says. “It’s a bit of a modern brand in its approach, and it really plays well with business travelers as well as families.”