Embassy Suites makes its mark in Monroe North
Less than a year after opening, hotel wins Best New Construction award from Neighborhood Business Alliance.
Less than a year after opening, one hotel has seized the interest of a business association.
The Grand Rapids’ Neighborhood Business Alliance (NBA) awarded Suburban Inns’ Embassy Suites by Hilton its Best New Construction award for the building of the hotel earlier this month.
NBA recognized businesses in various categories based on the impact they’ve had on the city this year. Embassy Suites was one of nine businesses in the Best New Construction category and the only hotel that was nominated. This was the first year Suburban Inns, which has seven IHG, Marriott and Hilton hotels in Michigan, was nominated by NBA.
“The category description is recognizing investment in our neighborhood by new construction or building expansion,” said Diedre Deering, president of Neighborhood Business Alliance. “We chose them because it was really a long time coming. It was approximately 10 years they’ve had this vision of bringing the hotel in the space, but through some difficulties getting the correct footprint (of) the land they needed for the hotel and getting through some of the issues with permits (from) the city. (We) really appreciated their persistence because it took a decade to bring it to reality. When construction finally started, it just was so phenomenal to the neighborhood to have that new building there.”
According to Tom Welling, vice president of development and facilities for Suburban Inns, the hotel has owned that property, 710 Monroe Ave. NW, for 10 years. The space was the home to several businesses that moved out, including a direct mailing company, warehouses and a garage. All were out of business at the time of purchase. Once Suburban Inns purchased the property, Welling said they demolished the building because they needed a site that was big enough for the hotel, on which construction began in 2017.
Welling said they chose to build Embassy Suites at that location because they believed guest rooms were needed in the area.
“We just really felt that the downtown was really going to expand to the north into the Monroe North Business Association area,” he said. “We felt there was a need for more guest rooms that are not necessarily right in the inner city of downtown but close enough and in a great neighborhood. It also gave us an opportunity to build with a river view. All the west-facing rooms have balconies that look over the river. It is just a unique setting but not necessarily right in the heart of the business district.”
Since the hotel opened in April, Welling estimated they have welcomed over 20,000 guests to the 250-suite hotel with an average stay of two days. They have employed about 150 people, the majority of which are from the Grand Rapids area who are employed on their front desk staff, housekeeping staff and maintenance staff, among others.
Along with the 250 rooms, the hotel is home to restaurants, a café, a fitness room, a spa and a pool. Deering said one of the reasons the hotel fits in with the neighborhood is because many of the facilities are named after things that are exclusively in Grand Rapids.
“They fit right in with the aesthetics of the neighborhood,” Deering said. “They have named a lot of their rooms after different streets in the neighborhood. They are very focused on the Monroe North district. So, we felt that they were really deserving of that award.”