new Holiday Inn Express, built over the concrete shell of the former Baymont
Inn at 427 South Main Street – which had once before been a Holiday Inn Express
– opened to guests Thursday night.
Blue Mile Hospitality LLC, the investment group that now owns the 91-room, four-story hotel, began its transformation after purchasing the property early in 2019. In the early months of 2020, its opening was delayed by factors not only including the rain that has saturated the Statesboro area but also delivery of materials from specialized vendors. But now that the work is done, a look inside the structure shows that its reconstruction has been thorough.
“We literally took this hotel back to the concrete, and people say all the time, you know, ‘I took it back to the studs,’ well, this hotel is actually made out of concrete, cement. So, it had great bones, and that’s why we chose not to demolish it and completely start over,” said Meagan Johnson Lee, director of sales for Holiday Inn Express Statesboro.
Everything that guests will see inside the hotel, from ceilings and floors to bathroom fixtures, is brand-new, she noted Friday. General Manager Ted L. Hasbrouck also asserted that the renewal project was essentially a rebuild.
“What we’ve really accomplished here is basically built a new Holiday Inn Express at the site of what was the former Baymont Inn,” he said. “It’s not just a renovation to the hotel right here.”
Hasbrouck said he wasn’t at liberty to cite a dollar value but observed that it required “a considerable investment.”
The parcel listing on the Bulloch County Board of Tax Assessors online database gives the January 2019 purchase price of the building and site – before the reworking – as $4,375,000, but notes that this included “excess personal property,” meaning additional business-related items. The assessors’ description also gives 1997 as the year the original hotel was built.
Features for guests
Hasbrouck was meeting with someone Friday in the “business center” area at the front of the Holiday Inn Express lobby. Available free for guests to use, the business center features two desktop computers and a printer. Tables in the community living area, or “great room,” are equipped for wired and wireless charging, and of course, Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
A big selling point for Holiday Inn Express is the full breakfast, available at no extra charge to guests each morning. A sliding door opens to the self-service breakfast bar, where covered chafing dishes hold eggs, bacon and sausage. The bakery corner features cinnamon rolls and breakfast breads. Health-conscious options include egg-white omelets, cereal, fruit and yogurt.
But the pancake-making machine is also “a big crowd-pleaser,” Lee said.
A coffee urn and cups are kept on a counter outside the breakfast-bar door, making coffee available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Also accessible 24-seven to guests with their room keycards, the hotel’s new fitness center is furnished with elliptical machines and a treadmill, each with video screens, plus rollout exercise mats, resistance bands, even free-weights and a towel dispenser.
One thing the new owners did not replace was the hotel’s outdoor pool, but they had it resurfaced and added lights.
Blue Mile partners
With the hotel’s central spot on the Blue Mile of South Main Street – and very near the existing creek where the Creek on the Blue Mile development is planned – the owners and managers are making the most of their “Blue Mile hospitality.”
“We’re really going to try to partner with other businesses on the Blue Mile and showcase their products in our lobby,” Lee said.
For example, the hotel may at times feature Three Tree Coffee Roasters coffee and sweets from Big Boy Cookies, businesses literally next door, she said. Details have yet to be worked out.
Because the Holiday Inn Express has no large-scale meeting space, the hotel management has already established a working relationship with Uncle Shug’s on Main, the former restaurant that now operates as a venue for scheduled events.
“So whenever we have someone coming in and they have a big group and they’re also needing meeting space, we’ll send them right across the street,” Lee said.
The hotel held its own job fair at Uncle Shug’s in January.
At night, some lights on the outside of the hotel glow blue for the Blue Mile. But green and blue are also the Holiday Inn Express brand colors, as seen in wallpaper, trim paint and floorcoverings throughout the building and in the blue glow of the front desk.
Besides regular double-queen and single-king rooms, the Holiday Inn Express has some “king executive” rooms, 20% larger than standard king rooms, on each floor. Both types feature flexible seating and work areas. The hotel also contains several apartment-size one-bedroom suites, with kitchenettes and separate living areas.
Two ‘Holiday Inns’
Incidentally, Statesboro now has both a Holiday Inn, at 455 Commerce Drive, and the new Holiday Inn Express. But the two hotels are owned by different people.
They are separate franchises operating under related labels of Intercontinental Hotels Group, or IHG, which also owns several other hotel and resort labels.
The Holiday Inn is a full-service hotel, while the Holiday Inn Express isn’t considered quite full-service. But that mostly just means that it lacks a restaurant and bar.
“So it’s kind of a different customer that we’re targeting. …,” Lee said. “This is going to be a customer that just wants an efficient stay. They want to come in, they want to check in quickly, they want to get to their rooms, have everything that they need … that way you spend less time here and more time out doing what you came here to do, which is visit somebody, go to a game. …”