By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — The first of two anticipated Benton Township hotels opened toward the end of last week.
The Springhill Suites by Marriott opened Friday afternoon. It fielded more than 20 reservations over its first weekend.
“It was huge opening for us since we’re new,” said General Manager Clint Milewski. “Our first guest comment card was five stars. It’s funny because we had a representative from Marriott that came to train us. She was surprised because she’s never opened up a property that got a comment card on the first day.”
Located at 1255 Cinema Way, the hotel is just off the I-94 Scottsdale exit. In fact, the hotel already has a billboard along the highway.
The 94-room hotel has four stories as a result of a height variance that was approved by the township’s Planning Commission and Board of Trustees.
The majority of the rooms are king suites, with about two dozen queen room suites.
The range in prices will depend on the time of year. Milewski said the current off-season price is usually $149.99 per night. When summer picks up, Milewski said rooms should run $249 to $259 a night.
Milewski said they’ve hired about 22 employees.
With 98 parking spaces, the Marriott hotel has just over its count for the total number of rooms. The parking lot will not be shared with the Staybridge Suites hotel next to it. The Staybridge, being built by the same developer as the Marriott, also will have a parking lot with two entryways from Cinema Way.
“When I heard they were opening, I was very happy,” said Milewski, who previously managed the Best Western Hotel in Benton Township. “I think these new hotels are generating a lot of employment opportunities in the area, and it’s also showing how much Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is growing as a place of business.”
Milewski said the Marriott hotel has and will continue to work with Whirlpool Corp. and Cook Nuclear Plant. He said the hotel developer has shown interest in the township because of its proximity to such businesses and events like the Senior PGA Championship that is hosted locally every two years.
Growing up in South Bend, Milewski said he was still surprised to learn how popular the area has become for destination weddings.
“Since I’ve been out here working, I never knew how much tourism came through here,” Milewski said. “We deal with a lot of weddings and people come from around the state for tours at breweries and wineries.”
With more of a modern look, there are “television boards” along the walls in the lobby.
All of the rooms are bigger than the standard size hotel room.
Added Milewski: “We have a lot of internet ports and electrical outlets made for the working person on the go. … We’ve made it so you can sit anywhere and have access to do your work – but in comfort.”
There is also a large fitness room, as well as a smaller pool and a business center with faxing, copying capabilities and two computer stations. Travelers can also sit on a patio with an outdoor fire pit.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 8, 2016)