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New Holiday Inn opens in Statesboro
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The new Holiday Inn logo is shown on the side of the Statesboro hotel that opens today. - photo by ARAINA REAVES/Staff

            With today's opening of the new, full-service Holiday Inn at the intersection of the Veteran's Parkway and Brannen Street, Statesboro has entered a new era in hotel lodging.

            “We are thrilled to welcome this property to the Holiday Inn family of hotels, and are especially proud because this hotel is the first in the state to debut the new Holiday Inn sign and everything it represents,” said John Merkin, senior vice president of brand management for Holiday Inn brands in the Americas.  “The Holiday Inn Statesboro-University represents the new face of the brand that is redefining guest comfort in towns across America, and we look forward to becoming an active part of this dynamic community.”

            Sporting the hotel chain's new logo and trademark green lights which emit a glow that is unmistakable against the night sky, the new full service, 60,000 square feet Statesboro Holiday Inn is a state-of-the-art facility designed to accommodate the business traveler, particularly the female one.

            "The trend in hotels now is to move back towards full service," said Doug Lambert, a member of and spokesman for the Statesboro hotel's ownership group. "There are a lot of women business travelers today, and they want room service and a safe and secure hotel which provides all of the latest in technology. That is what we have provided here."

            With a large banquet room and separate meeting rooms, the hotel is geared for corporate and social gatherings.

            "We already have family reunions, a wedding, and football weekend parties booked," said Heath Robinson, the hotel's general manager. "With our large kitchen we are able to serve both restaurant guests and room service needs as well as banquet bookings."

            The Holiday-Inn Statesboro was developed by a group of local investors headed by long time hotelier Lambert and John Lavender, a local building contractor. Lambert said he has come full circle in a way.

            "In 1950 when my father was in school, our family moved into a new apartment complex in Memphis," Lambert said. "Our landlord was Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inn. That is who my father would take his rent check to. It feels pretty ironic."    

            The hotel, which Lambert called the “newest Holiday Inn in the world,” has 93 guest rooms, a swimming pool, fitness center, high definition television in every room, wireless internet service, and Emma's Restaurant and Lounge. Unlike hotels built decades ago, the new trend is a very open floor plan where the move from the lobby into the restaurant is seamless.

            The kitchen and restaurant are going to under the direction of Jason Scarborough, the noted chef of the Blue Moon Café in downtown Statesboro. Scarborough is going to be working at Emma's on a full-time basis, and Lambert said it is Scarborough's restaurant to run.

            "Jason is a great chef, and this is his baby," Lambert said. "He will be providing breakfast, a lunch buffet, and dinner at night, in addition to banquet catering. I know that he will do a great job, and the food is going to be fantastic."

            Having worked with Marriott and most recently the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, Robinson brings a tremendous amount of experience to his position.

            "I have worked in four different Holiday Inns, and this one is the best, most user friendly one for guest and employees that I have ever seen," Robinson said. "It has the most amenities, and everything is top-of-the-line."

            Lambert said Holiday Inn was looking for a hotel group that was willing to put a full-service hotel in Statesboro.

            "We knew there was an opportunity here, and grabbed it when it became available," he said. "Historically, Statesboro has been a Holiday Inn town. We just wanted to continue that tradition in a new, modern facility."

            The Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau will host the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours at the new hotel Thursday, June 19. Lambert said everything will be ready.

            "We have guests booked for Monday night, June 16," Lambert said. "Monday morning, we will be 'live' in the reservation system, and have our doors open."