|By Kevin Purdy, The Buffalo News, N.Y. |
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Aug. 15, 2003 - Hart Hotels is expanding further into Buffalo's airport hotel market with the recent opening of a new Holiday Inn Express, while reaffirming its interest in taking over the nearby Radisson Hotel & Suites.
The new Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites on Buell Road, adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Hart's nearby full-service Holiday Inn, is one of six hotels Hart owns locally and its second under the Express brand. The 110-room hotel -- a two-year, $8 million project -- employs about 30 people, the company said.
David Hart, president of Hart Hotels, said the new Express hotel follows a general industry move to capture the middle of the lodging pack: business and other travelers who don't want full-feature accommodations, but expect more than just a bed.
"Lots of travelers on the road don't want all those features, or the cost, of a full-service hotel nowadays," said Hart. "We're expecting the market to pick up again in the near future, but the Express brand has been a very good model so far."
Along with the standard features of Holiday Inn's Express rooms, like cordless telephones with voice-mail in guest rooms and microwaves and refrigerators in the King Rooms and suites, the airport Express will offer some expanded features: wireless Internet access throughout, a full-size pool and exercise room and walk-in showers in its suites. Standard guest rooms are priced between $109 and $119 per night, and King, Queen and suite rooms are $129 to $149 per night.
Hart has owned the property on Buell Road for more than a decade, and had previously considered building a Hampton Inn on the property in 1990, but instead chose to pursue expansion into Vermont and other states. After the franchise license for another Express on Transit Road in Amherst expired last November, the market opened for Hart's second Express in Western New York, Hart said.
The company, however, is still looking to expand its full-service offerings. Hart was present at the June foreclosure auction for the Radisson Hotel & Suites, along with representatives from Benderson Development and other companies.
But the single winning bid on the hotel, $6 million, came from Chicago-based LaSalle National Bank, which is owed nearly $12 million in mortgage, interest, and other costs and fees from the hotel.
Hart said he has expressed interest in taking over the hotel, but had not heard back from LaSalle representatives.
"It's been an elusive target. It would be a huge investment in full-service hotels, which we still think can work here," Hart said. "But we're also providing the Express hotels for travelers with other needs."
Hart Hotels also operates another Holiday Inn Express on Dingens Street in Buffalo, three Holiday Inns and a Hampton Inn in the Western New York area, hotels in Auburn and Ithaca, and in Vermont, Maine, Florida, and Utah.
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(c) 2003, The Buffalo News, N.Y. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. SXC,