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High demand for hotels in MetroWest

High demand for hotels in MetroWest

When Robert Walker started dreaming about developing a vacant 60-acre property along Rte. 20 in Marlborough, he knew he wanted to lure a high-end hotel.

City and business officials last week celebrated the grand opening of Hyatt Place at the Apex Center, a mixed-use development that includes an entertainment center, restaurants and shops.

“When the mayor and I got together, we talked about a restaurant and a high-end hotel,” Walker said. “We started with Hyatt Place and the 110 Grill and we marched right up the hill and we brought a lot of different amenities to the city of Marlborough.”

Not only did Walker land a Hyatt, his partners, True North Hotel Group, also opened a Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites at the same development.

Before the new development, Marlborough had nine hotels with close to 2,000 guest rooms. Outside of Greater Boston, Marlborough has the largest number of available hotel rooms, according to the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation.

For the past few years, hotels have been opening up all across MetroWest with many experts saying it’s a sign of a strong economy. In the Milford area, several developments are shovel-ready for hotels.

Last year, a Hampton Inn opened in Westborough and Hilton Garden Inn in Marlborough. But more are coming with a Homewood Suites under construction near the Solomon Pond Mall in Berlin, an approximately 135-room hotel approved in Natick and a company seeking final approval to build a Hilton Garden Inn on Rte. 9 in Framingham.

In Milford, Fafard Commercial is marketing a 12-acre parcel off Rte. 16 as an “ideal site” for a hotel. The site, known as Platinum Park, is visible from Interstate 495.

Brad Wiens, a principal with True North, said the company opened a Residence Inn in the Marlborough in 2005 and is familiar with the market. The company agreed to build the hotel as part of the development after a feasibility study.

The new hotel, which officially opened on Oct. 31, will attract both corporate clients during the week and others for conferences and sporting events, he said.

“The tech corridor down the street is booming,” Weins said.

During a tour of the new hotel, Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant said he hopes the hotel will have more employees from Boston Scientific and other large corporations staying in the area.

“There is a demand for it,” Vigeant said.

The New England Sports Center draws 44,000 room nights a year and Boston Scientific about 12,000, but nearly half are diverted to lodging options closer to Boston because there aren’t enough rooms locally. Businesses are looking for higher-end hotels with suites for executives who fly in from all over the world, he said.

“While they are here they’re buying lunch and dinner, renting cars, using the gas stations and convenience stores,” he said. “It is a trickle-down effect from all the visitors to the city.”

The hotels in the region range from limited service to high-end, said Susanne Morreale Leeber, president and CEO of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“There are times when our hotels get all filled up,” she said.

Morreale Leeber drives by the Homewood Suites in Berlin on the Marlborough line, which is under construction.

“That is going up real fast,” she said. “They are real close to the sports center.”

The hotel is expected to open next year.

The Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals approved a pair of variances for the 152-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel last month, but the plans have not moved on to the Planning Board.

“There is interest and there is likely an untapped market ” said Arthur Robert, Framingham’s director of community and economic development.

He said there are several other sites in town well-suited for hotels along visible and busy routes.

“Hotels are fundamentally part of a strong and diverse economy,” he said. “Framingham is home to leading companies and having hotel accommodations help strengthen the business environment.”

Besides providing rooms for business and leisure travel, many of the hotels host events and conferences that draw people to the region, such as the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival at the Sheraton Tara Hotel on Rte. 9 in Framingham. The event, hosted by the Boston Bluegrass Union, attracts about 1,000 people each day.

For the past two years, Hopkinton officials have been making changes to its hotel overlay zoning district, which is concentrated near Interstate 495. The latest changes include expanding the zone, according to John Coutinho, chairman of both the Board of Selectmen and the Zoning Advisory Committee.

“Because of our restrictive zoning we missed out on some potential hotels,” he said.

Businesses in town like Dell EMC and Perkin Elmer would benefit from the hotel, and of course people visiting town for the Boston Marathon.

“There is definitely an appetite for a hotel,” Coutinho said.

Paresh Patel, president of New Jersey-based PKY Properties, said business is going well for the 106-room Hampton Road on Connector Road off Rte. 9 in Westborough, which opened in the summer of 2016.

“It is a heavily commercial and corporate market,” he said.

The guests mostly come from businesses, but there are some leisure guests who are traveling or visiting family. Sometimes people visiting Boston decide to lodge outside the city, he said.

At the Hyatt grand opening, Walker said he is proud to have the hotel chain anchor the development.

“We are very satisfied and very happy to be in the Hyatt Place today, which is the nicest hotel this side of Boston,” he said.

This article by Jonathan Phelps originally appeared here.