Rochester's hotel offerings continue to surge with the latest addition, Homewood Suites By Hilton, preparing to open its doors very soon.
Rochester's Carpenter family and Torgerson Properties, of Willmar, expect to open the 108-suite hotel, next door to their Courtyard by Marriott hotel, by mid-November, said Dennis Wallenta, Torgerson's vice president of hotel operations.
While this hotel project began before the launch of the Destination Medical Center initiative, many other hotel developers have been attracted to Rochester by the allure of the forecast of thousands of more visitors. Brad Jones, executive director of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, expects almost 400 new rooms to be added in 2015 to the current 5,443 rooms. He predicts Rochester will pass the 6,000 room milestone in 2017.
The DMC-fueled hospitality bubble is making Rochester a very competitive market, which is the environment that Torgerson is opening its new hotel.
"Homewood provides a really unique, high-end extended-stay experience. It really compliments what we already have on Second Street," said Wallenta.
Jones agrees that this new hotel is a good addition to that area.
"I think Homewood Suites really fits well into one of our growth areas, near Mayo Clinic's Saint Marys Hospital. Homewood and Fairfield Inn(which is under construction nearby) are both very good, strong brands," he said. "We expect a lot of growth coming in that area."
Torgerson also owns the 117-room Courtyard and the nearby Springhill Suites, which has 86 suites. That means the company will soon own 311 rooms, conveniently less than a block from Mayo Clinic's St. Marys Hospital.
"We really see Second Streetas the gateway to the Mayo Clinic area," he said.
The trio of hotels each have their own offerings with different price points, which gives Torgerson access to a wide range of visitors coming to Saint Marys.
As an extended-stay hotel, Homewood provides dinner for its guests on four nights a week plus large breakfasts every day. Each room has a full kitchen and staff will shop for groceries on request. It also offers an indoor swimming pool, exercise center and a large patio with grills for relaxing during the warm months. While it doesn't have its own full restaurant, the adjacent Courtyard's Saints on 2nd is just a few feet away. Homewood also leases space to the West End Salon, a locally owned beauty salon.
While people can stay for just a day or two, its typical guest stays for at least a week or more.
"Once you're home at the hotel, you're home. Having less to worry about is important to our guests, who usually have plenty to deal with already," said Wallenta.
To lead their new hotel, Torgerson brought on a well-known Rochester hotelier, Dan Nelson, handle the general manager duties. Local business leader, Gail Nelson, recently joined the company as the director of sales for all three hotels. Wallenta says having people who understand Rochester is important.
The visitors and convention bureau's Jones says Rochester is a complex market for hospitality with Mayo Clinic bringing thousands of medical visitors here and DMC leading many to make bets of predicted future growth.
"This year we're been very even in terms of occupancy rates through August, though September and October appear to have been somewhat up over last year," he said.
Of course, 2013 was a record breaking year for Rochester hotels, with an almost 7 percent spike in occupancy compared to 2012, Jones said. This year's occupancy is flat compared to 2013, but the city's hotels have managed to increase revenue per room by 6 percent over 2013. That means rates have increased and guests are choosing more expensive room options.