ELKHORN — A new Holiday Inn hotel is on track to open its doors this summer as part of a development expected to bring new business to a high-profile spot along Interstate 43.
The four-story hotel being built near the intersection of I-43 and state Highway 67 will be accompanied by a nearby Loves Travel Center and later perhaps a restaurant.
The arrival of Holiday Inn in Walworth County coincides with construction of a similarly-sized Fairfield Inn & Suites in Lake Geneva, also scheduled to open this summer.
Located about 10 miles apart, both hotels have contracted the same management company, First Hospitality Group, to operate their facilities simultaneously.
Kyle Highberg, area general manager for First Hospitality, said he is confident that both hotels not only can co-exist, but both can prosper by attracting new travelers and visitors into the region.
“We have the opportunity for a significant draw,” Highberg said.
The 92-room Fairfield Inn & Suites is under construction near the corner of Sheridan Springs Road and North Edwards Boulevard, on Lake Geneva’s east side.
The Holiday Inn in Elkhorn will include 83 guest rooms along with a swimming pool, fitness center, meeting room and other amenities marketed under the Holiday Inn Express & Suites name.
The Loves Travel Center being built as part of the same development will be a jumbo-sized gas station, convenience center and fast-food place spread out over 14 acres. The travel center is scheduled to open around mid-summer, followed a short time later by the Holiday Inn.
A restaurant has not been identified yet to join the development on remaining acreage.
The commercial building site is on the southern edge of Elkhorn, near where the community shares borders with both the town of Geneva and town of Delavan.
Developer Mark Meyer, who is overseeing the estimated 30-acre development, said he looked around the Lake Geneva region and saw a need for quality brand-name hotels. Tourists and other travelers, he said, are willing to pay a little extra for overnight accommodations with a name they recognize and trust.
“There’s been this consumer shift that’s taken place,” he said.
The nearest Holiday Inn properties are in Janesville and Milwaukee.
It will be Elkhorn’s fourth hotel, joining a Hampton Inn, Thomas Motel and an AmericInn located across the street from where the Holiday Inn is going up.
Elkhorn city finance director James Heilman said city officials are pleased with the arrival of Holiday Inn, as well as the Loves Travel Center and the future prospective restaurant.
After a couple of years of planning for the site, construction got under way last year and continued all winter on the southwest corner of I-43 and Highway 67.
“I think it’s working out nice,” Heilman said. “It’s a good start.”
The city owns the development site and has struck a development deal with Meyer’s company, Chicago-based E&M Strategic Development. Separately, the city sold 14 acres to Loves Travel Center.
Meyer said he purchased a Holiday Inn franchise and is excited to be bringing such a popular and widely recognized brand name to the Lake Geneva region.
“It’s very humbling,” he said.
Dennis Meek, a veteran of the hotel industry who has been with First Hospitality Group for three years, has been tabbed to become general manager of the Holiday Inn.
Meek said he is impressed with the design and functionality of the building under construction, from the lobby and guest breakfast area to the varied guest room options and meeting spaces.
“This is a beautiful, beautiful building,” he said. “It’s very nicely set up.”
With about 10 acres remaining in the development, officials are still reviewing options for adding a restaurant to the mix.
City officials, meanwhile, are planning road improvements and a traffic light to manage the expected new influx of travelers and visitors into the area.
In addition to a restaurant, Heilman said, there has been talk of adding outdoor walking paths or other environmentally friendly features to a portion of the site that is in a floodplain.
“Who knows — there are possibilities,” Heilman said. “There’s enough room for some substantial development.”