By Jim Davis HBJ Editor
EVERETT — Doors are expected to open later this month at downtown Everett’s first new hotel in nearly two decades.
The six-story Hampton Inn at 2931 W. Marine View Drive will offer 122 rooms overlooking Port Gardner Bay.
“Check out that view, isn’t that something? This is the room where you can watch the fireworks,” said general manager Melissa Springer of one of the upper-story rooms.
The hotel aims to serve a mix of business travelers, Navy personnel and weekend visitors looking for a place within walking distance of downtown and Comcast Arena, Springer said.
“Let’s face it, we’ve got a lot of great things going on in this town,” Springer said.
The approximately $15 million project is being built by Hotel Concepts of Seattle and will be managed by BMI Hospitality, also from Seattle. It will employ 20 people when it is scheduled to open July 30.*
Rooms start at $129 a night and rates vary depending upon the day.
It’s the first new hotel in downtown since the Inn at Port Gardner opened along the waterfront in 1997, said Amy Spain, Snohomish County Tourism Bureau’s executive director.
Snohomish County added more than a dozen hotels in the late 1990s and early 2000s, she said. But only three opened in Everett.
“We’ve seen hotels popping up in other parts of the county, but Everett has been stagnant,” Spain said.
Since that wave, very few hotels opened anywhere in the county.
That changed this year.
In April, a 100-room Best Western Plus opened in Arlington and a 122-room Homeward Suites opened in Lynnwood. And now the Hampton Inn, which is a Hilton Worldwide property, is opening in Everett.
Hotel occupancy rates have seen a steady, mild growth for years, said Spain, citing numbers from Smith Travel Research, a company that tracks the hotel industry.
In 2007, the hotel occupancy rate for the county reached 72 percent, she said. During the recession, hotel bookings plummeted to a low of 60 percent in 2009. They’ve climbed back to 68 percent in 2013.
With it, new hotel projects are on the way. Angel of the Winds Casino north of Arlington is building a 125-room hotel next door, which is expected to open later this year.
Seattle’s Touchstone Corp. is planning an eight-story, 156-room Courtyard by Marriott at the corner of Colby Avenue and Wall Street in downtown Everett. Although that project has been delayed for years, Touchstone is expected to take out building permits by the end of this month, said Allan Giffen, Everett’s planning director.
Everett is a good location for travelers, because it’s close to lot of regional attractions, Springer said.
“This is a great middle of the road spot,” Springer said. “You can go north to the San Juans and whale watch or you can go south to Seattle and not pay Seattle rates.”
And Everett’s developing events to attract visitors, she said.
The Hampton Inn has already been taking reservations for the Everett Craft Brew Festival in mid-August, because all of the hotels in town are already booked up.
The new hotel has a mix of rooms with queen- and king-sized beds and king-sized beds with sofa sleepers.
It’s built with a porte-cochère and two floors of underground parking. It features a ground floor swimming pool, a 1,200-square-foot gym and a dining room on the top floor lit by skylights. It also has three meeting rooms, one larger room and two smaller ones for businesses in the area.
The elevators and ice machines are built in the center of the hotel, away from the rooms.
Springer and her crew have been scrambling for the past several months to put the finishing touches on the hotel. One of the last pieces to get inspected were the elevators. That means that Springer and others in the meantime have been climbing a lot of stairs. On the Fourth of July, Springer, who wears a pedometer, logged 22,000 steps.
She opened the Hilton Garden Inn at Bothell opened in 1999 and swore she’d never open another hotel.
“It’s kind of like having a baby. You kind of forget how bad it was until you do it again,” Springer joked.
But she jumped at the chance to become general manager, saying that Everett is her hometown and she lives only two miles from the location.
“We’re really proud of this hotel,” Springer said. “It’s clear people want to have a hotel to recommend to out-of-town guests as they come in, and this place is that hotel.”
* The Hampton Inn was scheduled to open next week, but the date was delayed.