Extended-stay hotels

Extended-stay hotels see rising demand
It used to be the only time business owners really thought about finding temporary accommodations for employees was when they hired an employee from outside the area who needed to relocate.
But, with traditional employment patterns a thing of the past, with rising trends in outsourcing, contracting and off-site training, business owners are faced with the responsibility of housing their temporary and permanent employees far from the home base.
Extended-stay accommodations are the solution. They range from hotel rooms with additional amenities such as kitchenettes and laundry facilities to upscale apartments strategically located near schools, business districts and downtown areas.
Carol White, general manager of BridgeStreet Accommodations on Regency Court in Brookfield, says more and more people are traveling on extended stays which can last anywhere from a month to two years.
“The extended-stay hotel industry started out more for people who were relocating, but now it also accommodates people who are on long-term assignments or in an off-site training program,” White says. “These people are often looking for more than what regular hotels provide.”
Computer specialists who are brought into town to help companies debug the Year 2000 problem is a hot market in the extended stay hotel industry, White says. Many businesses don’t have staff employees who are able to do the debugging, so they bring people in for the sole purpose of working on the problem. While in town, these people need a place to live and, depending on their length of stay, regular hotels may not be adequate, she says.
When last June’s floods hit southeastern Wisconsin, insurance companies brought in extra adjusters and many of them stayed in BridgeStreet facilities, White adds.
BridgeStreet Accommodations, an international company with locations throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, offers fully furnished, short-term apartments, housekeeping service, laundry and health facilities, and pools. Also, White adds, BridgeStreet Accommodations are located near schools and business centers for the convenience of the business person.
“You often have a person who is relocating and has a family, and we take into consideration the needs of the family as well as those of the business person,” White says. “Because many of our facilities are located near schools, relocating parents can enroll their children in a school while looking for permanent housing.”
Sandra Hansen, housing coordinator for QuadGraphics, a BridgeStreet client, gives BridgeStreet’s service high marks.
“I tell them exactly what the employees want and BridgeStreet delivers,” Hansen says. “Our employees love it. They walk in with their toothbrush and a change of clothes and BridgeStreet does the rest. I have complete confidence in BridgeStreet’s service.”
Currently, QuadGraphics has 10 BridgeStreet apartments to temporarily house trainees and an employee who has relocated from Europe with his six children and a dog. The cost to stay at a BridgeStreet facility varies according to a number of factors, including length of stay, number of bedrooms needed and number of people staying.
Kelli Effinger, a human resources consultant with Fortis Insurance Co. on Michigan Street in downtown Milwaukee, says she appreciates the care BridgeStreet puts into its service. Fortis uses BridgeStreet for relocation purposes and has had 15-20 employees stay in BridgeStreet properties.
“They really take care of the guests and do all they can to make them happy,” Effinger says. “All our employees have been very pleased with their stays at BridgeStreet.”
When it opens this month, Hotel Metro will provide guest rooms of about 350 square feet with stocked bars, desks, two-line speaker phones, separate data ports, and 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s vintage decorum. The hope is that the upscale suites on the corner of Broadway and Mason Street in downtown Milwaukee will feel more like a residence than a hotel room, says Jamie Hummert, managing partner of Hotel Metro Milwaukee.
“We have something for the business client who is looking for more conveniences than those offered by regular chain hotels, even if that client is only staying for two or three nights,” Hummert says.
The attempt to provide guests with the comforts of home goes down to the restaurant which, Hummert says, has a “living room” ambiance and provides freshly prepared foods, and bike rentals so that, if they wish, business clients may bike to their appointments.
Suites at Hotel Metro Milwaukee range from $175-235 per night and corporate rates can be negotiated. The facility, which was originally built as a hotel but then was served as office space, is in the final stages of redevelopment. Some suite rentals began in June while construction proceeded.
For those looking for accommodations not necessarily of the full-scale apartment variety, Extended Stay America, on North Avenue in Wauwatosa, offers efficiency studios of about 300 square feet, each with fully equipped kitchens including dishes for two, a microwave, utensils and a full-sized refrigerator; a full bathroom; color television with cable; recliners, data ports, free voice mail, free local telephone calls and a desk. Laundry facilities are available on site. Rates at the Wauwatosa Extended Stay America are $259 per week or $49 per night.
“Most guests stay a week or so and are looking for more than what traditional hotels provide,” says Mariesa Capelli, a corporate spokesperson for Extended Stay America. “If you compare our quality, we can’t be beat for the rates we offer. If you’re a business person who’s traveling and you’re trying to save money but want quality, then Extended Stay will fit your needs.”
Extended Stay is considering putting another facility on Fourth Street downtown on the site of the former Ambrosia Chocolate factory.
July 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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