Winick Puts Stamp On Hotel

September 9, 2005
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COMSTOCK PARK — After spending 14 years as a “road warrior” furniture salesman traveling throughout the United States, Rockford resident Mike Winick figured he had learned what guests want out of a hotel. As the owner of the new Comfort Suites Hotel in Comstock Park, Winick wants to make sure they get it.

“I’ve been all over the country and stayed in all different kinds of hotels, living out of a suitcase. I learned what I liked and didn’t like,” he said. “I’ve tried to include things that make your stay away from home a little less stressful.”

Winick and his wife, Laura, are the owners of North Face Ventures LLC, doing business as Comfort Suites Hotel. The $4 million all-suites hotel is located at 350 Dodge St., near the intersection of West River Drive and U.S. 131, an area Winick said is in need of lodging.

“The northern part of Grand Rapids and into the Rockford area and so forth is all underserved for rooms,” he said.

Winick said the Comfort Suites, which opened in late August and is managed by Great Lakes Management Inc. of St. Joseph, is the only hotel north of Grand Rapids along U.S. 131 until Big Rapids.

“The market showed a demand for it,” he said. “We’re hopefully going to fix that now that we’re open.”

With a coffee-house atmosphere, fresh baked cookies at night and a continental breakfast in the morning, Winick said he hopes guests will be comfortable in the lobby as well as their rooms, which include desks, microwaves and refrigerators. Rooms also have four layers of drywall and insulation between them to prevent noise problems. And the sleeping area is separated from a sitting area by a short wall, which Winick said helps guests feel more at home.

“It gives you this warmer, ‘I’m not in a box’ type of feeling,” he said.

Winick said he wants guests to feel like they are in a luxury hotel at limited service prices.

The hotel has an indoor swimming pool, spa and fitness center, and Winick said he is putting together ski and golf packages, as well as packages for bike rentals to use on the White Pine Trail, which runs adjacent to the hotel. There is also a home theater and conference room that can be rented for gatherings and business meetings. When not rented, the home theater will show movies and broadcast sporting events for hotel guests.

Though the area is growing, Winick said he is not worried about competition from future hotels. In fact, he hopes to own them.

“You don’t build something like this and be half-hearted at all,” he said. “If there are more hotels coming, I’m going to be the one doing it.”

Winick said he already has bought a parcel of land next to the hotel for the possibility of future expansion.

Brenda Davis, Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the chamber receives many calls from people looking for a hotel in the area and welcomes the new Comfort Suites.

“It’s just long overdue,” she said of an additional hotel in the Rockford area. “We have such a wonderful downtown and outlying business district in Rockford, and people want to come here. Having accommodations that allow them to stay overnight or however long is wonderful.”    

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