Soft opening for Hampton this Friday

MANCHESTER — The new $17.7 million Hampton Inn and Suites is set for a soft opening Friday, following months of delays.

The delays have been attributed to weather conditions and complications with deliveries, according to developers. Originally it was scheduled for a soft opening on Memorial Day weekend.

"We hope to be open by this weekend with last minute inspections and some of the punch list items that have to be completed," said Kevin Mullaney, vice president for Mullaney Hospitality Group, the project's developer. "It still looks a bit messy, but every day that goes by it looks a little more finished."

"The opening is not a definite for Friday, there still has to be some check-off's and what have you, but it's really close," said project spokesperson Tricia Hayes. "Sidewalks have been poured, furnishings have come in, beds have been made; all of the final things for a hotel to open."

Though costs stemming from the delay are unclear, the project's developers anticipate a fruitful summer going forward.

"As much as you hate them, there are always larger costs that come in," said Hayes. "It was important to get it open this summer, because that's when most of the traffic is. They have been pushing really hard to make that happen."

"We have a lot of reservations for the remainder of the summer, so we're excited to be here," said Mullaney. "We wanted to be open a little earlier quite frankly, but things up here take time with weather and the way things go. We're happy with the way things turned out."

Prior to the soft opening, the new Hampton Inn and Suites will need to pass larger corporate regulations from the Hilton Hotel chain, which operates about 4,600 hotels worldwide.

"One of the things we're waiting for this week is for Hilton to come in and do the property management system, and that allows you to take reservations," said Hayes. "Right now on the Hilton site you'd see that it's opening soon, because they don't pull the key until they're ready. It takes an awful lot to get everything in place."

No date has been set for an official grand opening.

"We have not made plans for the grand opening yet," said Hayes. "That will come, but we just need some time to get the dust settled."

Construction on the hotel began last summer. Developers say the hotel will be similar in look to surrounding buildings.

"There are certain brand standards that we have for Hilton, but they were flexible in knowing that this is Manchester, Vermont," said Mullaney. "We have to be respectful of the local area, and make sure that everything fits in."

The project has made hiring local a priority as well, adding 24 employees thus far with the potential for up to 30 during peak seasons.

"I would say all of our employees are local," said Mullaney. "We didn't move somebody up from Atlanta to manage it, for example."

Moving forward, the projects focus will shift to three new spaces to be constructed near the hotel. Mullaney hopes that a solid plan for these spaces will be in the works by the end of this year.

"Now that we have the hotel complete we're going to turn our sights to what's next," said Mullaney. "It'll likely be a combination of restaurants and retail but it's really premature to say definitively what it will be. We're looking at things now and sketching out different options."

Developers hope that additions to the space will benefit the town as a whole.

"We're hoping that it's a good addition to the town and certainly an economic boost," said Hayes. "Additionally, the traffic flow is better coming in off of the Shaw's roundabout compared to the previous configuration."

"We've been talking to the town about making a little bus stop as well," said Mullaney. "I think that'll be a great addition."

Though the process has taken longer than anticipated, developers are looking forward to joining Manchester's vibrant business community.

"We've already built up a lot of relationships with local businesses and their inn keepers so we're looking forward to working with them, but also the town itself for things like ITVFest, the Food and Wine Festival, and different sports tournaments," said Mullaney. "We're happy to be opening finally, and we're looking forward to being part of the town."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.


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