Sometimes, big things can come in small packages. Consider the newly opened TownePlace Suites by Marriott in downtown Salt Lake City: This extended-stay hotel added only 95 rooms to the burgeoning destination, and it isn’t wasting any space because it doesn't have much to spare.
Guy Woodbury, SVP of hospitality at Woodbury Corporation, a real estate company based in Salt Lake City and one half of the team behind the TownePlace development, described the site as a “postage stamp” when compared to what his company is used to working with. However, with a little bit of creativity Woodbury’s team was able to draw on the property’s limited space to create a series of unique spaces.
“I hate to use the term ‘alley,’ but we have a fun walkway between the hotel and neighboring buildings,” Woodbury said. “We created a porch and a fire pit in this space, which are typical amenities you would have at a TownePlace but they work a little differently in an urban hotel.”
The property was developed as part of a collaboration between Woodbury Corporation, which also signed on to manage the hotel, and Salt Lake City’s Kimball Investment Company. Beecher Walker Architects designed the hotel, and Rimrock Construction acted as general contractor. Woodbury and Kimball took interest in the project due to the continued strength and appeal of the extended-stay segment, as well as the favorable location of the development site, which places the hotel near the Salt Palace Convention Center and two blocks away from the Temple Square complex. The hotel also is located one and a half blocks from the light rail line, which provides access to various areas in Salt Lake City, and is 3 miles from Salt Lake International Airport.
OPENING OBSTACLE: The hotel is located on a small parcel of land, so the initial challenge facing the development team was finding a way to fit the traditionally expected TownePlace amenities into the footprint. The primary issue was the inclusion of outdoor space, which the developers adapted to by activating the area between the hotel and its neighboring buildings by creating a walkway with a waterfall and outdoor seating. This area is not expected to finish construction until spring, but when it is completed it will serve as what Guy Woodbury described as a mixture between a “park and an miniature urban oasis” hidden alongside the hotel.
“This is an urban spin on what was already a nice product, and these touches help make it feel comfortable,” Woodbury said. “This is not a second-class citizen among other hotels in the TownePlace brand.”
According to Woodbury, the hotel will be instrumental in driving demand to Salt Lake City’s convention market, which continues to idle amid a stalled convention center hotel project. Without available rooms, the city has not been able to reach its potential in the convention arena, said Woodbury. But his company isn’t hedging all its bets on convention business; the property also is located amid a forest of office buildings, and Woodbury said the city has a contingent of business travelers in need of longer-term accommodation.
“[The hotel] came together once we saw we could make the footprint work,” Woodbury said. “The amenities that we offer are unique to the central business district where we are located.”
These amenities include typical extended-stay selections such as fully equipped kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas, along with a nearby grocery store. That last touch is something that Woodbury was excited to point out because its inclusion is of personal importance to him.
“With all the training that goes on in the area and all the different needs that come with someone having to stay in the area for longer than two nights, we’re in a great position to help [travelers] out,” Woodbury said. “My son was an auditor with Ernst & Young for years. He would travel to help companies set up their systems, and there were never any hotels that supported the amenities he needed while he was on the road. We want to make things feel like home.”