MANCHESTER — The shuttered Quality Inn off South Willow Street is being transformed into an upscale new hotel concept focused on health and well-being, but like so many other construction projects the opening has been pushed back.
Jamsan Hotel Management hopes to open the state’s first Even Hotel with 112 rooms by the end of the year.
“We are running a little bit behind schedule due to COVID-19 related issues,” said Ashok Patel, vice president of development for the Massachusetts-based company. The project will cost millions, but Patel did not disclose the exact amount.
“We are working hard with slow progress, as the extra steps to protect all workers,” he said.
The slowed renovation will add to the overall project cost and loss of revenue because it can’t open sooner, he said.
The new branding comes as the lodging industry in the Granite State has grappled with setbacks because of construction restrictions and uncertainty around the state’s plan to reopen lodging. Two other hotels are under construction in the Queen City, a Tru by Hilton and Residence Inn.
Construction on another Tru in Concord is complete, but its opening date is still undetermined, according to developer Steve Duprey. Duprey Companies has made the decision to close several other hotels in Concord because of the restrictions and lack of demand from essential workers.
“Every hotel in the state is in the same boat, so it’s not unique to us,” he said.
XSS Hotels, which operates hotels across Massachusetts and New Hampshire, just opened the state’s first AC Hotel in Portsmouth in January. The company owns four hotels in the state, three of which are in Portsmouth.
The company is still on the hook for “hundreds of thousands” for mortgages, taxes, insurance and utilities, said Mark Stebbins, a partner.
“We had to let tons of people go because we haven’t been able to open our doors to people,” he said.
Depending on guidance issued from the state, they might keep the hotels closed longer.
“They’ve opened restaurants for outdoor dining. It’s safer in a hotel room. You’re all enclosed all by themselves in their hotel room,” said Stebbins, noting gathering in the lobbies would be discouraged.
The overhaul of the Quality Inn started in December — 10 months after a deadly shootout and 15-hour standoff with police that left three people dead. Tips from disillusioned drug “mules” prompted the planned raid, according to a report released by Attorney General Gordon MacDonald last month.
“We wanted to provide a new experience to the Manchester travelers in terms of healthy lifestyle options for a hotel,” Patel said. “The profile of Even Hotels is based on healthy living and very focused on individual health and wellness.”
The hotel will feature a fitness center, rooms equipped with exercise zones and fresh food and beverage options at its “Cork & Kale Cafe.” The hotel concept is designed to help guests “maintain a healthy lifestyle,” according to its website.
Rooms include on-demand training videos, yoga mats and other equipment for private workouts. To promote better sleep the hotel offers evening tea service, plush high-thread count linens and color LED mood lighting, according to the brand.
“A lot of effort is put into quality sleep with the bedding, programming on the TV and the in-room amenities curated for a healthy and restful stay,” Patel said.
The lobby will have spaces to play games and mediate.
The closest Even Hotel is in Norwalk, Conn. The Manchester location is about 3 miles away from the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. The hotel’s website is accepting reservations starting Oct. 24. It will bring in 25 full-time employees when it opens.
“We feel that the marketplace and where we are today we are ready to embrace such a novel hotel concept,” Patel said.
As of March, 15 Even Hotels have opened worldwide with 28 in development, according to the company.
Even Hotels is part of IHG Hotel & Resorts, which includes Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.
Tru by Hilton is also a new concept in the Granite State market with locations set to open in Concord and Manchester. The Manchester location is set to open in September, but is not accepting reservations yet.
The Residence Inn in Manchester is expected to open in late-June or July, according to Stebbins, who owns Procon, which designed and is building the hotel for its owner. Construction on the Concord hotel finished on April 1.
“We could turn the key and open the hotel,” Duprey said.
The biggest challenge is having a mortgage on the $11 million hotel with no revenue coming in from room rentals, he said.
Stebbins, of XSS Hotels, says the first quarter of the year was on track to be one of the busiest yet.
“It was the best January, February and early March that we’ve had in years,” he said. “We were doing really well. We thought we were on our way to a super duper year, and then boom, our invisible enemy hit.”
He thinks there would be a demand once hotels start to reopen.
“I think people are tired about being home. I think people want to travel,” he said. “We deal with hotel owners all across the country, and the people I talk to who have been able to open up their hotels have done relatively well. There’s been travel.”
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