As the region's hospitality market heats up with several hotels opening and others under construction, those who work in the industry are eager to share what their hotels have to offer.
One of the newest is Homewood Suites, a Hilton franchise that opened last week. On a former golf course across from Stabler Corporate Center and The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley in Upper Saucon Township, the hotel is looking to fill the market for overnight stays and event space.
“We saw a need for this in the Valley,” said Manan Patel, vice president of operations for HMB Management of Upper Macungie Township, developer, owner and operator of Homewood Suites by Hilton. “Homewood as a brand does not have a lot of meeting space, Homewoods don’t typically have a bar.”
The hotel also has nine rooms that feature Lutron Electronics technology, which is rare for Homewood Suites, added Patel. This includes motorized window coverings and automated control lights.
The target market is corporate travelers, as the hotel is equipped with mostly king-sized beds. With 114 rooms, the hotel, built by Ondra-Huyett Associates Inc. of Upper Macungie Township, covers 90,000 square feet and has five stories, plus a basement. Patel declined to disclose the estimated construction cost.
Construction began in 2015, said Michael Gibson of Ondra-Huyett, who noted that the property came with some challenges.
Another local firm, American Atelier Inc. of Allentown, made the furniture in the hotel’s guest rooms, Patel said.
“HMB is so proud to be part of the community I grew up in,” Patel said. “We are certainly very proud. I used to play here when it was a golf course [Center Valley Club]. We can’t wait to help grow this part of the Valley.”
The hotel has been very well-received so far, said Christopher Lutz-Long, director of sales for Homewood Suites by Hilton.
“We are kind of in that specialty niche of a family owned mentality,” Lutz-Long said.
At the lobby entrance is a suite shop and nearby business center and dining area that offers breakfast and dinner, with a bar that opens at 7 p.m.
The hotel now has about 30 full and part-time employees and expects to have close to 50 when the hotel opens its banquet/event space next year.
The demand from across the Lehigh Valley is strong, particularly from nearby companies such as Dun & Bradstreet, Aesculap and Olympus, Lutz-Long said.
This weekend is the Lehigh-Lafayette football game, and the hotel is expecting a big turnout for that.
“The Homewood brand is driven toward extensive stays,” Lutz-Long said.
One couple is even staying in the hotel for six to eight months while their house is being built, he added.
All the rooms have full kitchens. Other features of the hotel include a saltwater pool, fitness center, outdoor patio grill area, putting green, laundry facilities and separate guest storage for people staying long-term.
With its separate event space, the hotel is looking to be a space to host weddings.
The hotel’s wedding suite also includes a bridal suite and preparation rooms and interconnected Centennial Room, the hotel’s large event space which can accommodate 425 people.
The hotel has started taking reservations for the space beginning April 1. It also offers two other event spaces of smaller sizes.
For the large event space, all materials are portable, including the dance floor and bar, Lutz-Long said.
One of its first events, already booked, is the Emmaus junior prom for 2018 and 2019, he said.
A couple of weddings are in the books as well, he said.
“We do everything in-house, full food and beverage; there’s a massive kitchen,” Lutz-Long said.
The pre-function/smaller event space is next to the large event space and can be used for smaller events. The Saucon Creek room, a third meeting/event space, can accommodate 60 people.
With separate entrances and exits, the total event space, slightly more than 8,000 square feet, is separated from the hotel space, he said.