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Holiday Inn Express North Stafford part of growing ‘select service’ hotel catering to business travelers

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IHG Lobby
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It’s been about a month since the Wingate Inn in North Stafford changed its name to Holiday Inn Express, and there’s already been a noticeable improvement.

The rooms are completely renovated, and the pool went from a chlorine-filled swimming hole to a salt water oasis, and the continental breakfast is now anything but bland.

The changes are part of an $6 million renovation project at the hotel located the heart of North Staford, across from Stafford Marketplace. Changing the brand of the hotel was a significant move to attract and cater to business travelers.

“If we’re going to do a full renovation we’re going to go for a higher brand,” said Amal Lambaraa, Managing Director of Lambaraa Hospitality LLC at the Holiday Inn Express in North Stafford.

The new name not only means fresh linens and a brighter coat of paint. It means a better, healthier complimentary breakfast with low-calorie pancakes, waffles, and grab-and-go healthy options like fruit and gourmet coffee.

“Some days, the breakfast you take away can also be your lunch. You can take your food with you, and that prevents you from needing to run out to a gas station to get food or coffee,” added Lambarra.

There is over $1 billion in new hotel construction happening across Virginia right now. Leading the pack are these types of “select service” hotels.

“We see these new hotels that don’t have three meal a day restaurant or other amenities offered at full-service hotels,” said Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association President Eric Terry. “These new properties are catering to travelers who are not looking for the amenities usually offered in a full-service hotel.”

In other words, these hotels cater to business travelers who leave the family at home. The average stay at Holiday Inn Express in North Stafford is about three to four nights. Being close to Quantico Marine Corps Base and the Interstate 95 Express Lanes give it ideal location between Washington, D.C. and Fredericksburg.

The Holiday Inn Express in North Stafford offers the comforts of home, including a kiosk in the lobby that offers items travelers might have forgotten to pack like toothpaste or a toothbrush, to microwavable meals for a quick bite. Becuase so many business travelers frequent the hotel, Lambarra pushed to increase the number of internet access points, placing one gateway point per every four rooms to provide a secure connection to the web.

“The first question on our traveler’s minds’ is ‘do you have the internet?’ We have the highest bandwidth, both wireless and wired, so we don’t have the problem of government laptops not being able to connect,” said Lambarra.

Keeping with the secure connection, new locks on all the room doors allow guests to control them with their cell phone. The hotel also offers meeting space and a stylish front lounge so travelers can connect offline, too.

These investments in faster, more secure internet and the improved locks are amenities not commonly found in other area hotels, she adds
Being located across from Stafford Marketplace is also a plus for travelers. They can walk across the street to sports bars, coffee shops, banks, and shopping, or they may call for a complimentary shuttle that will take them anywhere they want to go, up to 10 miles.

The forecast for business travel for the region — especially for Department of Defense and federal workers — looks good. The President’s budget includes spending increases for DoD offices and the military.

“We’re a long way off from recovering to previous levels of travel we saw before the recession, but depending upon what happens with the federal budget, we could see even more that what we saw before,” said Terry.

If federal travel spending increases, the military-heavy regions of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads are sure to benefit, he added.

A ribbon cutting and reception will be held for the Holiday Inn Express North Stafford, located at , will take place from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, April 6. Members of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors and Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce will attend, Appetizers and drinks will be served.

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