Danville's Hampton Inn adds hot breakfast and wireless, high-speed internet

April 18, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

Managers at Danville's Hampton Inn were hoping for a good response from guests to to a new, chainwide "Make It Hampton" program, but people raving about the new shower curtain rods was an unexpected, if pleasant, surprise.

"We've had people wanting us to give them the name of the manufacturer so they can put them in their house," said hotel manager Shai Marshall of the new curtains that bow out from the tub and shower providing guests with more room and light.

Although seemingly a small thing, the new shower curtain rods are part of an overall refinement of services and image that is taking place across the 1,250-hotel Hampton Inn system, which is the nation's second largest based on the number of guest rooms. The changes, about 75 percent of which already have been implemented locally, will cost franchise owners $35,000-$50,000 for each hotel, Marshall said, a sum that owners, such as Ron Pfaff of Somerset, owner of the local hotel, are willing to pay because they "believe in the franchise."


Some of the changes at the hotel are subtle - like the shower curtains and a different look in the entrance and the lobby, for instance; others relate more directly to meeting the guests' needs.

"We have coffee, tea and hot cocoa out 24 hours, as well as fresh fruit," said Myrna Miller, the hotel's director of sales. "Bus tours coming in can get refreshed. At 5 or 6 (p.m.), we start baking cookies so guests actually smell them when they come in."

In the past, Hampton Inns have offered free continental breakfasts to their guests but a major feature in the new program is a free hot breakfast every morning that includes such items as sausage and eggs or biscuits and gravy.

"The breakfast has been a big hit with sports teams in a hurry," Miller said. "It helps to have breakfast here free. They don't have to put them on buses and transport them."

Another new food feature at the hotel is an "on-the-go" breakfast for guests in a hurry.

"We have breakfast all packed and ready to go for them," Miller said.

The new breakfast bags include a cereal bar, apple, muffin and bottled water.

"They're just sitting out on the desk," Marshall said. "They can grab them as they go out the door."

Those guests who choose to stay and eat breakfast at the hotel can now work online on their laptop computers as they dine: Another new feature is wireless, high-speed Internet service anywhere in the hotel.

Meeting the needs of corporate customers

Many of the hotel chain's customers are "corporate," and Miller spends her time working with local industries to meet their needs. Such benefits as wireless Internet and new "lap desks" in the room help business people get their work done while staying in the hotel.

Another popular feature for business people is a "business center" in the lobby, which includes a desk stocked with a fax machine, computer with Internet access, calculator, dictionary, thesaurus and other office supplies.

"All the things you would have in an office ... it's all right here," Miller said.

She said the hotel is beginning to book some corporate meetings that previously had been going to Lexington.

"With the advantages of alcohol (at local restaurants) and the new convention center, we're able to offer what Lexington offers at a better price," she said.

And those meetings are not just benefiting their hotel, Marshall and Miller said.

"The groups that we're having involve more people than we can handle," Marshall said. "We have to all work together to bring the business to town."

Hampton Inn considers itself the "lighthouse brand," Marshall said. "Everybody looks to us to lead the way."|

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