Grand opening Wednesday for ‘home away from home’ at Holiday Inn Express & Suites
When you walk into the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites, be prepared to be impressed. It’s what Alexis Guerra calls “the Wow Factor.”
“We wanted to give our guests the Wow Factor when they walk into the lobby,” says Guerra, who is assistant general manager and director of sales for the hotel that began renting rooms Monday and will host a day-long grand opening and open house Wednesday to introduce Gonzales to its newest – and biggest – lodging accommodations.
“We get a lot of people when we go out to eat or to H-E-B, ‘When’s the grand opening? We’re gonna to go.’ So everybody’s excited to come and see what’s on the inside,” Guerra says.
That chance to see what’s on the inside will be 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, when the hotel will host an open house. The Gonzales Chamber of Commerce will officially open the property with a 10:30 a.m. ceremonial ribbon cutting. Breakfast and finger foods will be served during the open house, as the community takes the opportunity to get to know the newest addition to the Holiday Inn network.
The Guerra family, which also owns the 48-room Sleep Inn & Suites next door, and AG Construction, which was the general contractor for the Holiday Inn Express, are eager for their neighbors to see the newest jewel in their lodging crown.
“Our family is real big on trying to better Gonzales, bring more business here, have people from out of town know about Gonzales,” Guerra says. “We want to put Gonzales on the map, bring people to Gonzales and show them what we have to offer, and it’s not just that we’re a small town.”
The Guerras have accomplished that by adding the extra touches that make a mid-scale property look more like a higher-scale property.
“Everything is higher quality than regular,” she points out. “The extra touches, my dad (Arnold of AG Construction) did himself. Again, to separate our hotel from all the others.
“As far as the extra touches, my dad has added the arches, the inset ceilings, crown moldings, extra detailed the columns – this is over and above,” the youngest of the Guerra children points out.
“Hotels are more standard, cookie cutter, everything’s flat ceilings, no dimension to it at all. My dad is real big about dimension, doing arches, doing columns, putting trim on everything. It just makes it look nicer.”
AG Construction went the extra mile to imitate the higher scale Holiday Inns with the addition of granite countertops throughout the 62-room property – “it’s rare that you see that in hotels,” Guerra emphasizes – as well as the curb appeal that attracts guests.
“As far as the stone on the exterior, that’s something my dad adds extra. We did do stucco instead of regular paint,” Guerra says. “And the style of landscaping was all designed by my father.”
Park under the massive porte-cochère (or portico) that dominates the north entrance and walk into the lobby, and the Wow Factor really kicks in.
An enormous, custom-built chandelier illuminates the entrance and beckons guests to see what other extras are in store. The front desk features resin panels with LED lighting across from a business center area that also utilizes a decorative resin panel instead of a traditional wall.
“The [business center] wall was actually built by my dad; he designed it himself,” Guerra says.
Arnold’s extra touches are particularly apparent in the lobby, which provides an inviting welcome to guests that accomplishes what Guerra likes to spotlight, especially the Great Room.
The Great Room – which features arches, inset ceilings, crown moldings and the extra detail on the columns – is the center of activity on the main floor and where breakfast is served. “This is one of the main features of the hotel,” Guerra says. “It is open not only during breakfast, but after hours. It’s open for anybody that just wants to come in here and relax, or for those who want to come and work and enjoy coffee. It’s open at all times for guests.”
The hotel features four ADA-compatible rooms in addition to standard king and standard queen rooms. Add to that 15 king suites which have a living area separated from the bedroom area, roll-out sofa bed and dry bar, and a queen suite – “which is our highest-rated room because it’s our largest room” – has two queen beds and same amenities as the king suites. The rooms offer flat screen TVs, granite countertops and an ambiance that is “very spacious, homey-like with modern furniture – which is what we’re (Holiday Inn Express) known for.”
The Holiday Inn Express rooms are “more homey, more welcoming – you feel more at home,” Guerra says. “Everything is more spacious, more homey. It makes it seem like you’re more at home than at a hotel. And that’s the whole Holiday Inn brand – they want you to feel it’s your home away from home.”
Additional amenities include conference room that accommodates 25-40 people, 24/7 fitness center, guest laundry, swimming pool and Sweet Shop vending area and planned souvenir shop.
It won’t take long for the new hotel to start paying impressive dividends. When it began renting rooms Monday, there was already a waiting list. The oil boom has maxed out lodging options within an hour’s radius from Gonzales, and Guerra says oil companies have anxiously been awaiting the opening of the Holiday Inn Express so that their employees can stay closer than Austin and San Antonio.
While the bulk of the rooms will accommodate the crush of the oilfield, Guerra says a small inventory of rooms for business and leisure will be set aside for their non-oilfield guests.
“We saw how the oil boom has continued to increase,” she says, explaining why her family broke ground on the new hotel in August 2011.
But they also wanted to make a statement.
“We wanted to definitely do something new, bring something new into the area,” Guerra says. “Of course, everybody knows Holiday Inn, that’s a brand name, so that will attract more people.”
The new Holiday Inn Express & Suites is located on U.S. Highway 183 at Middlebuster Road just north of U.S. Highway 90A.