Rooms Emerging Outside of Capital City

With Providence crying out – more hotels, more hotels – developers south and west of the city are responding to their own market needs with rooms and meeting space. The most recently completed project in West Bay was the Hampton Inn and Suites, which opened July 3 in Warwick on Post Road near T.F. Green Airport. A Hilton Hotels Corporation franchise, the five-floor, 173-room hotel is owned and operated by Great Lakes Companies out of Madison, Wis.

There is no restaurant on-site but they provide daily deluxe continental breakfast and have received city approval for a liquor license but are still awaiting paperwork from the state. The new hotel has 2,000 square feet of meeting space, an indoor pool, Jacuzzi and game room and soon every guest room will be outfitted with Web TV. Each of the hotel’s 47 extended stay suites, which also have a small kitchen, will have two telephones. The hotel also provides a shuttle for guests to and from the airport and to sites within a five-mile radius, and General Manager Pat Perry said response so far has been great. “We’ve been running about 90 percent [occupancy] since we opened.”

A new Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites at 901 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick is scheduled for an October 30 opening. It had been expected to open this summer, according to a sign in front of the hotel. The property is owned and developed by Carpionato Properties Inc. of Johnston, which also owns the franchise for Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, which is also scheduled for expansion. Like the Hampton, the new Holiday Inn Express will be a “limited service hotel” that focuses on the frequent business traveler or “road warrior,” said Rudi Heater, general manager of the Crowne Plaza at the Crossings in Warwick and director of hotel operations for Carpionato Properties.

The new four-story hotel will have 147 deluxe guest rooms and suites and offer a large “great room” or common area for guests plus daily continental breakfast. There will be two meeting rooms, one accommodating up to 50 people, plus a permanently set board room for 12, an indoor pool and fitness center, and an “executive business center” with computers, fax machines and copiers. Guest rooms will also be outfitted with high-speed Internet access and two-line speaker phones with data ports, and the great room will feature a lending library with the latest fiction and non-fiction.

According to focus studies conducted by Bass Hotels & Resorts, franchiser of Holiday Inn Express, features like Internet access are more important to the frequent commercial traveler than an in-house restaurant, even though the concept of “limited service” isn’t as well known to the general public, Heater said. But the new banquet facilities being built at the Crown Plaza will be anything but limited, with construction set to finish next summer on a 39,000 square-foot addition at the hotel located on Greenwich Avenue in Warwick, just off Route 95. It will provide 22,500 square feet of usable space for meetings and banquets, and will distinguish the Crowne Plaza as “the largest [banquet] facility in one hotel in the state,” second only to the R.I. Convention Center in Providence, Heater said.

A NEW HOLIDAY INN Express readies to open on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick. The area will be luxuriously outfitted with Axminster, a custom designed, “extremely upscale” wool carpeting, and will feature a large rotunda with Italian mosaic marble floor and 38-foot dome.

The facility will have approximately 40,000 square feet of banquet space and a 7,200 square foot ballroom graced with an alabaster chandelier, 16-feet in diameter. There will be richly crafted wood paneling throughout the premises, Heater said. “If you’re going to build it you might as well make it nice.” Carpionato Properties also plans to build an additional 84 guest rooms and suites at the Crowne Plaza, which will bring the hotel’s total room count to 350. Construction on that project should begin next spring, Heater said. He said they seek to attract the “small regional and national associations that have never come to the Crowne Plaza before” and be known as a “very viable financial alternative to the Boston market,” as well as a local site for major social or business functions.

Lisa McDuff, Warwick’s director of economic development, said the new hotel facilities, especially the new banquet space, will allow locals to hold their galas “right here in Warwick instead of us going out of town. So we’re really looking forward to it.” With hotels in Warwick nearly completely booked – 94.3 percent occupancy rate in June – the new projects will boost the total room number in the city to 1,670, McDuff said. “So this is going to help us tremendously,” McDuff said.

The Crowne Plaza is located about 2.8 miles and the new Holiday Inn Express about three-quarters of a mile from T.F. Green Airport. There is also a plan in the works to build a large industrial park with a new resort hotel and restaurant off Route 95 in Coventry, but further information about the project was not available by press time. Destinations south Despite the tourist bent of South County there is also extensive effort under way to secure the business traveler.

A new 120- to 150-room limited service hotel is set to be built in Richmond off Routes 138 and 195 by Bernard Golf and Asset Management Corporation, which owns the Lindhbrook Golf Club in Hopkinton and the Pocasset County Club in Portsmouth. Bill Duckworth, director of operations for Bernard, said last week that a flag or hotel brand name has not yet been selected, but that the company also plans to build a restaurant adjacent to the hotel property that will serve lunch and dinner. The site on Stillson Road has seven undeveloped lots right now, all owned by Bernard Golf and Asset Management.

The new hotel will be limited service – no restaurant or bar – but it will have a workout room, indoor pool and limited function space for daytime meetings, two rooms each about 700 square feet and able to fit 60 to 90 people. A new, approximately 100-room hotel is also proposed near the Quonset Davisville Port and Commerce Park in North Kingstown, but final details await the completion of a feasibility study by Pinnacle Advisory of Boston, a hospitality consulting firm.

Bill Almonte, owner/operator of the approximately 50-room Best Western Monte Vista on Route 1 in North Kingstown, which is destined to be demolished for a new cloverleaf access highway to Quonset Point, said last week they hadn’t decided whether the new hotel should be full or limited service. They also hadn’t picked what flag or brand name under which they’d operate. But it “will be a business hotel we’re putting in.” Those decisions should be made by December, Almonte said, with groundbreaking for the project scheduled for some time in May.

He was also unsure whether the project would include meeting or banquet space or a restaurant, and was still in planning talks with the R.I. Economic Development Corp. Almonte said the new hotel would probably have between 90 to 110 rooms. Plans are also under way for a 150-unit resort hotel at the Fenner Hill Country Club in Hope Valley off Exit 2 on Route 95. Ron Levesque, who’s developing the project with his brother Dennis, said they are still looking for a franchiser. Levesque said they’ve gotten most of the necessary approvals from the town and the state and decided on a resort facility based on feasibility studies which noted their proximity to Mystic Seaport, two Connecticut casinos and more than a dozen South County golf courses.

Last year the Levesques opened an18-hole championship golf course on the 165-acre site as well as a restaurant, lounge and banquet facility that seats 150. They also plan a new conference and banquet center for the hotel that should seat somewhere in the “500 range,” and barring unforeseen delays should break ground on the hotel project some time next year. “Everything looks good right now.” Other projects proposed for South County include a new banquet facility at The Village Inn at Narragansett Pier and the rehabilitation of an historic 1796 inn across from the Wood River Inn in Richmond. Owner Diane Larisa said they anticipate a mid-November opening for the newly restored inn, which will have 10, rooms, each with a fireplace, Jacuzzi and French doors.

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