Best Western Plus opening marks end of 3rd phase of reconstruction
WILLMAR — The opening earlier this month of the new Best Western Plus in Willmar marked completion of the third phase of a multimillion-dollar major reconstruction project undertaken by TPI Hospitality.
Completion of Best Western Plus, formerly the Holiday Inn Willmar, is part of the reconstruction of TPI’s Willmar Hotels and Conference Center campus located on U.S. Highway 12 East.
TPI officials say the new Best Western Plus opened April 8 after earning the new descriptor from the “World’s Biggest Hotel Family.’’ The new descriptor, launched by Best Western in 2010, gives Best Western hotels the opportunity to earn the designation by meeting specific enhanced design and amenity guidelines.
Besides an extensive renovation of guest rooms, public spaces in the hotel were reconfigured and remodeled to include a new larger fitness room and an expanded lobby area offering a full hot breakfast complementary to guests daily.
Best Western Plus has 92 rooms. All rooms with two queen beds are either pool-side or pool-view. All rooms with king beds are located on the perimeter of the hotel. Executives like those rooms during the week and families like pool-side and pool-view rooms on the weekend, said Dave Feist, general manager.
“We are looking forward to our guests enjoying this new space and experiencing the comfort and ambiance of the stylish and modern décor,’’ he said.
Feist said the project began just over a year ago and has gone very well. Feist said he and the staff are glad to have the project reach the point that it has. He said some exterior work remains, but inside everything is pretty much wrapped up.
“For a project this size, really orchestrating this, the contractor and our team did a great job, making sure we hit most of those deadlines,’’ he said.
Feist said up until now the company did not have any Best Western-branded hotels.
“We’ve learned a lot along the way. As they say, it’s not your father’s Best Western. It’s changed a lot, very demanding standards, all for the better,’’ said Feist.
Customers say they like what they have seen.
“Big positive, so far,’’ said Feist. “And a lot of what we did was what they’ve been asking for: the elevator. It’s only a two-story building, but we heard that a lot as far as we wish you had an elevator. So now we have one.’’
The project began April 21, 2013, with reconstruction of the now Holiday Inn Express & Suites, formerly the Comfort Inn, which reopened with the addition of a third floor in December 2013, followed by the redesign and reopening of Green Mill on March 31.
Back in 1972, Holiday Inn Willmar became TPI’s first hotel. It was so successful that a 60-unit addition was built to the south shortly after opening. In the 1980s, the restaurant and bar went through a number of expansions. In the 1990s, the Conference Center was added.
TPI Hospitality President Mitch Peterson said the overall complex has been a hub of activity in west central Minnesota throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He said business continued to be healthy, but he said a reinvention of the overall complex was needed.
Construction is underway on the final two phases. The 10,000-square-foot Conference Center is being renovated and will reopen for business May 8, featuring state-of-the-art technology, and Ruff’s Wings and Sports Bar, which will open in time for kickoff of the 2014-15 NFL season.
“We take great pride in the fact that we have been a member of this community for over 40 years,’’ said Peterson. “We believe that with these renovations, we will exceed the expectations of travelers as well as our local community, for the next 20 years.’’