Housing out-of-town guests became a problem almost two years ago for the city of Clinton.
Ashford University’s purchase of the Best Western Frontier Inn in 2010 eliminated 113 rooms available to travelers, cutting hotel/motel tax and causing a shortage of available hotel rooms.
Starting today, that void left by the Frontier took a major step toward being refilled. The Hampton Inn by Hilton opened today at 2781 Wild Rose Circle South, offering a welcomed addition to Clinton, said Marsha Smith, Clinton Convention and Visitor’s Bureau director.
“We’re pleased the Hawkeye hotel group believed in us,” said Smith, referencing the group that owns the facility. “Of course it means a lot to the CVB. What we lost with the Best Western was a lot to the community.
Having them (Hampton Inn) show faith in Clinton, should boost everybody’s feelings about the city.”
The city lost about $18,000 to $20,000 in tax revenue from the loss of the Frontier, Smith said. The lost funds took away from advertising the city of Clinton, Smith said.
“That affected us quite a bit,” said Smith, talking about the loss of the Frontier. “But this (Hampton Inn) is a big boon to us.”
Smith and Hampton Inn General Manager Melody Van Drew highlighted the importance of the timing behind the hotel’s opening. With the summer months approaching, and events like RAGBRAI, Tractorcade and other business conferences set, Smith said more rooms were needed to accommodate the expected visitors.
Van Drew said several groups have booked up to 2013.
“The community reaction has been 100 percent positive,” Van Drew said. “Even all the hotels welcomed us to the area. We can all work well together.”
Along with a new 76-room hotel on the two-acre piece of land, the Hampton Inn is employing 17 people, and currently has 45 to 50 applications still on file. Once the hotel gets busier, Van Drew said more hiring will take place.
During the last few weeks, Van Drew and her staff have undergone extensive training.
“The most surprising thing has been all the training,” Van Drew said. “The staff does 40 hours of testing and I had 88 hours of testing with the computer system. We did worksheets and had more training yesterday. Nobody can check anyone in until they’re certified.”
The facility will feature a meeting room designed for 50 to 55 people, a swimming pool and hot tub, expanded fitness room, continental breakfast and more.
Three rooms are ADA accessible, featuring expanded rooms and bathroom area.
“(Hawkeye Hotels) are really elite,” Van Drew said. “They’re top of the line. If we need something, they take care of it right away. They treat us like a family.”
A grand opening has yet to be scheduled, but Van Drew is expecting it to occur sometime in May.