NORTH KINGSTOWN—There are a lot of things that catch your eye when you first enter the lobby area of the new TownePlace Suites Marriott hotel in Quonset but there’s one thing in particular that says a lot about the hotel’s future goals.
Located steps away from the entrance/exit door is a map of Rhode Island that stretches from the floor to the ceiling. Smack dab in the middle of that map is the new hotel. That’s fitting because, if all goes according to plan, the new Marriott will be at the center of development in one of the state’s fastest growing business communities.
TownePlace Suites Marriott, a four-story, 55,453 square foot hotel located at the intersection of routes 403 and 1, officially opened Monday afternoon with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by a virtual who’s who of local and state representatives. During a half hour press conference featuring speeches from U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Representative Jim Langevin, the message was clear: the hotel’s opening was a good sign for Quonset, for North Kingstown and for Rhode Island as a whole.
“There are 9,000 workers here at the Quonset Park,” Reed said. “If you go back, as I have done, and look at the companies like Hexagon and other companies, they’re world class and now they have a world class facility for their business travelers and their staff coming in.”
“It’s certainly something I know has been a long time coming,” Langevin said. “Rhode Island has been struggling over the last few years, as has the national economy, and so, when we see projects like this, it’s exciting. With all the things that Rhode Island families are struggling with right now, Quonset/Davisville has continued to be a bright spot for our economy and we’d like that number of 9,000 jobs down here to keep growing. We need to continue to see that Quonset stays on the move.”
The new Marriott hotel, which features 104 rooms, an on-site pool, an on-site fitness room, complimentary WiFi and complimentary breakfast, began construction in August, 2010, but it’s official opening represents the end of a 10-year journey by local officials like North Kingstown Town Council president Elizabeth Dolan.
“Ten years ago, I was on the planning commission and we had plans and designs for a hotel for this site,” Dolan said Monday. “That never happened and we waited and we waited and Marriott came in and it’s so wonderful to see the investment.”
Because of the economic collapse, Dolan wondered if the project would ever come to fruition at all.
“Frankly, we were kind of wondering if it would really happen and here it is,” she said. “It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful. My children and I, we watched it going up and we watched the retail section across the street going up and it’s a real positive sign of growth here for the town.”
Growth was on the mind of most officials during Monday’s ribbon cutting. The hotel itself will only create 20 full-time positions, or 25-30 during peak months. These positions will all employ local residents. More significant is what this represents to new businesses that are considering coming to Quonset.
“The hotel will help the area attract companies that are looking for a solid base to work out of,” said Michael Gendrin, General Manager of TownPlace Suites, North Kingstown. “By having the hotel, you can kind of do everything you need to do in the same area, not have to go back and forth to Providence or Warwick. Your guests can fly right in locally at the Quonset airport if they have to, take care of business overnight, the next day or a week from now. So, I think, to have the infrastructure in place, the hotel, retail, restaurants, all of that, it comes together to really play the crucial role.”
Dolan feels the hotel will help grow the business park in ways otherwise not possible.
“I think it’s only going to help fill whatever empty spaces are across the street,” she said. “And, obviously, when you have a hotel with 104 units, you need restaurants, so I’m thinking that that might be the next step.”
What sets the new hotel apart from other hotels in the area, besides its centralized location, is the fact that it is a registered Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver building, according to Gendrin.
In fact, according to Lance Bennett, Executive Vice President of Pro Con Inc., the hotel is the first TownePlace Suites registered for new construction in the United States.
Some of the ways in which guests will notice the environmentally conscious construction are an abundance of natural light, with the hotel boasting large energy-efficient “operable” windows”; an energy efficient geothermal heat pump that features 18 geothermal wells that heats approximately 20 percent of the building and an electric heat pump in each room that has an occupancy sensor and saves 25 percent of energy costs simply by reverting back to a standard temperature when guests leave a room.
It is estimated that those simple changes will reduce energy consumption of the building, when compared to other similar structures, by 26 percent, according to Bennett.
Add in the estimated 770,000 gallons of water saved with high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and the fact that construction of the building resulted in the recycling of 80 percent of all construction waste and it’s clear the new TownePlace Suites Marriott aims to be the hotel of the future.
And the future is exactly why the Marriott chose Quonset.
“Well, the statistic that I think is important is that one out of every 50 jobs in Rhode Island is in this park,” said Robert Shapiro, Executive Vice President of Waterford Development Corp. “So with over 9,000 employees here, there’s really an unmet need.”
As Quonset grows, so, too, will the Marriott. Plans are already in place to expand the property to include 48 more rooms should there be a need. And with the Wickford Train Station’s completion getting closer by the day, that might not be far off.
“To be in the Park right from the start, when all of this is going to be coming right down the pike makes it more attractive for us and, obviously, for companies coming in,” Gendrin said. “A lot of companies need to have that infrastructure in place to do the business that they want to do, so we were looking at the area and we wanted to be in a spot that is already established and where there’s the future potential for a lot of growth.”
For Dolan, the impact of the new hotel can’t be understated.
“I think it’s huge,” Dolan said. “I think it’s positive for people to see that as difficult as the economy still is, and it’s still a tough place, we’re seeing positive growth here.”