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Thriving visitor destinations Battle Ground and Vancouver welcome hotels this month

Battle Ground’s population is booming and is on track to welcome its first hotel this month.

The $5.5 million 46-room Best Western Inn and Suites is being developed by the Patel family, who bought the land in 1999 and always envisioned a hotel for the small but quickly growing city. Al and Bindaya Patel live in Vancouver and Nina and Bhanu Patel live in Portland.

Over the past decade, Battle Ground has grown a whopping 190 percent, increasing 65 percent since 2000 alone. In 2006, the city’s population was 15,810, according to the city’s website.

Al Patel said it is high time visitors to the city didn’t have to spend the night more than 10 miles away in Vancouver.

"The community has a need for something like this," he said. "A lot of meetings, high school games and small weddings happen here, and whatever happens, people have to look outside for a place to stay. The town is big enough now."

Phase one of the project includes the three-story, 44,000-square-foot hotel with 11,300 square feet of ground-floor retail space, including space for a restaurant. There is space for up to seven tenants, but none have yet been secured.

Deborah Ewing of Eric Fuller & Assoc. is the listing agent for the retail portion.

Phase two, which is planned for a patch of land just south of the hotel, will include a small conference center and meeting facility, Patel said. Construction is expected to start on it next year, but its ground-breaking date will depend on the hotel’s immediate success.

Patel said several restaurants have expressed interest in the retail restaurant space, but were turned down because the Patels want to ensure that any restaurant that comes in will be able to handle onsite catering for the conference center. So far, none were quite right, Patel said.

At the latest, the hotel – at 1419 W. Main St. – should open May 15. All of the rooms are suites, and many on the third floor will be themed with worldly motifs. Phase one also includes an indoor pool and spa.

Boise-based K2 Construction Inc. is the general contractor, Beaverton-based LEEKA is the architect and PBS Engineering and Environmental handled the civil engineering. The financing was done locally by Bay Bank.

The idea for the Best Western came about while Patel owned a building in downtown Battle Ground where he and his wife ran a dry cleaning shop for several years. He heard repeatedly from customers that the city was ready for a hotel.

His family has a history in hotels, owning several in the Portland area, including a Hampton Inn in Clackamas, Ore., and a Quality Inn at the Portland International Airport, as well as a Red Lion Inn in Boise.

He chose the Best Western franchise because it is a family-oriented company with a good reputation. Each hotel is independently owned and operated, and Patel said it is the best brand for a small town.

Patel did not disclose the membership fees, but said they are reasonable.

As the hotel owner, Patel had a large role in the design of the hotel.

"It’s not a cookie-cutter property," he said. "It’s designed so the rooms are not the same." The rooms – all of which are suites – range from 400 square feet to 850 square feet. Some are family suites with four rooms centered around a common area and some have Jacuzzis.

They all have Internet access and 32-inch flat-screen TVs.

At the beginning of May, the hotel was a shell of what it will become. The iconic Best Western sign had yet to be installed out front, the carpet was in the midst of installation, and what would be closet-door mirrors were propped against walls. The elevator shaft was an empty cavern, and doors were without locks.

But the construction crew was adamant it will be visitor-ready by mid-month. Once the carpet is in, they say, the rest will quickly fall in place.

Between eight and 10 full- and part-time staff will be hired, and room rates start at $90.

Patel said this is an exciting time for him and for the city of Battle Ground. Nobody thought the town would be able to sustain its own hotel, he said.

"It feels good to be the first," he said. "I like (having) something for the local community and to be a part of it."

Patel said support from city government, mayor and local community has been tremendous.
"This town has a lot to offer and will continue to grow as access to the freeways gets easier," he said.

And to the south…

In Vancouver, the new Marriott Springhill Suites is set to open at Columbia Tech Center May 23.

The four-floor, 119-suite hotel broke ground about a year ago, but the franchisee InnVentures Inc. – which owns and will operate it – has been looking at the project for three years.

"Business has been asking us for this for years," said General Manager Alison Hite. "The business (community) out there needs something Eastside."

Springhill Suites is a relatively new hotel brand, just a decade old, and it was created to fill the gap for Generation-X and Generation-Y travelers, so it’s hip and trendy, she said.

About 80 percent of the customers are corporate. Each suite has its own workstation, wireless Internet and daily newspaper delivery.

"It’s all about the experience," Hite said.

Yoga classes, wine tasting, cooking classes and the like will be made available to guests. And the hotel’s neighbor Nautilus supplied the hotel gym and five sleeping rooms with equipment.

Room rates range from $99 to $159 per night, including an airport shuttle. Thirty people have been hired and all were trained on Sony Playstation players.

"It’s very business-based," Hite said, "but with a little bit of an edge."

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