the suite life

The long-awaited SpringHill Suites by Marriott will require a little more waiting, but construction of the seven-story, 108-room hotel is moving smoothly, and it is expected to open in July. That word comes from David Cocco, vice president of development/hotel operations of Kratsa Properties, which is building the hotel for Marriott.

The problems that Kratsa experienced early on—underground tanks that needed removing and difficulties with moving the giant crane onto the site—have been resolved. What you’ll see now just across Washington Road from Rollier’s uptown definitely looks like a hotel.

Cocco, who was involved in selecting the site, says SpringHill Suites is looking forward to “building a great relationship with the community.” He recommended the Washington Road site, he says, because in his judgment there were  “no good hotels” in the area.  And while Mt. Lebanon is not home to large corporations, we have small corporations and St. Clair Hospital, both of which draw travelers. He anticipates the hotel also will serve businesses in surrounding areas, including Southpointe, not to mention wedding parties, bar mitzvah guests and out-of-town relatives.

A pricing structure (still to be determined) will be lower than downtown Pittsburgh hotels with easy access via the T.

All this is very good news for uptown Mt. Lebanon, because the all-suite hotel, with an 88-space parking garage, offers no restaurants or shops—only a small “market” where guests can purchase snacks or toiletries. There will be no conference facilities—just a small meeting room that will seat about 15 people. A typical SpringHill Suites enjoys an average 60 percent occupancy rate, Cocco says.

He expects weekday guests, who tend to check in between 5 and 8 p.m., to dine at local restaurants. On weekends, guests check in earlier—between 2 and 5—which will allow them time to hang out at the pool at the rear of the first level or check out local shops.  Many weekend guests likely will attend an evening event, return to the hotel and continue partying at one of our local watering holes, he says.

There are 360 Marriott SpringHill Suites nationwide, and Cocco says the brand is gaining in popularity against the older Marriott Courtyard hotels. He attributes the growing popularity in part to the design of the rooms, which are larger than usual—15-foot mini-suites, with amenities including a fridge, microwave, flat screen TV, chaise longue and pull-out sofa, making it possible for a family of five to share a room.  All rooms are hard-wired and offer free Wi-Fi.

The hotel will provide high security, Cocco says, with a key system that indicates who enters the rooms and cameras in common areas. Landscaping, including the hotel’s “green” roof, has been designed with sustainability in mind. Since the hotel is set back from the street, Cocco says the green space in front might be used for municipal events, such as a small band for First Fridays.

The hotel’s marketing and sales division will be working with Mt. Lebanon’s public information and commercial districts offices to collect information that will be available in a binder for guests to peruse. Cocco also hopes to provide guests with weather information, stock updates and promos for community activities and events on an electronic “Go Board”—a TV with a touch screen mounted in the lobby—that currently is available only in the Courtyard brand.
Cocco says the manager, to be named in February, will announce when reservations may be made. The hotel will employ 30 people. Hiring will begin several months prior to opening.