New hotel to be built

A large hotel property firm plans to build a 90-room, new-style Holiday Inn Express by fall 2014 at an address that shows it to be on vacant ground in front of HealthSouth, according to Manjusha Sharma, spokeswoman for InterContinental Hotels Group, owner of the Express brand.

ICG doesn’t plan to renew its franchise license with Greg Sheehan, owner of the area’s current Holiday Inn Express on Pleasant Valley Boulevard near Union Avenue after it expires in September 2014, Sheehan said.

That is through no fault of Sheehan, who has done a “phenomenal job” as a franchise holder, but because his hotel is two-story, and the brand’s new prototype demands more floors, according to Rose Harding, senior area manager for ICG.

Greg Morris, owner of the property in front of HealthSouth, said there has been no hotel deal for the property, which remains for sale.

The company that plans to build the new Holiday Inn Express already has about 15 Express locations, according to Sheehan.

It’s an “up-and-coming” firm that has about 60 IHG brand hotels altogether, Harding said.

The company’s other brands include Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, EVEN, Candlewood Suites, Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites.

The new Express prototype features a “stacked building concept” that is operationally efficient, with spacious and uncluttered rooms and other features designed to attract “mainstream business and leisure travelers” who want more than a basic hotel experience, but who want to be self-sufficient during their stays, according to an online IGC brochure designed to encourage investment by prospective franchisees.

Since learning his franchise license won’t be renewed, Sheehan has hosted inspectors from other prospective franchisors and talked with consultants to learn how he might best renovate his hotel for its post-Holiday-Inn Express existence, possibly as a “boutique” hotel, he said.

Boutique hotels usually emphasize “style, distinction, warmth and intimacy,” often have an architectural “theme,” try to avoid typical chain standardization, stress personalized service, are often small and generally target customers in their early 20s to their mid-50s, according to Lucienne Anhar, writing on the hospitalitynet website.

One challenge for Sheehan is renovating a “24/7” building, he said.

“[But] with every challenge, there’s an opportunity,” said Sheehan, who also owns a Hampton Inn in Dubois.

“We hate losing Greg,” Harding said. “He has been a great owner.”

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.