Downtown hotel nears completion
Andrew Dyb, general manager for the new Best Western Hotel & Suites, says about the hotel's opening: "We're shooting for July."
Inside, construction crews lay carpet, roll in furniture, hook up wiring, hang doors and apply finishing touches to the two-story (three-stories counting the garage) 86-room hotel.
Dyb says he's already fielded many inquiries and taken reservations.
Other businesses inside the hotel will include Junior's Bar and Grill, a 70- to 80-person capacity restaurant on the building's west side that faces Main Street.
Martinsen Investments bought and developed the site, and now a partnership of it, Cascade, LLC, owns the hotel and bar/grill.
Dyb said Junior's will most likely open in August.
An independently owned Anytime Fitness will lease retail space on the building's northeast corner, also slated to open early this summer.
As the Journal reported earlier, the small, detached building on the site's southeast corner will be an independently owned and operated Jimmy John's sandwich shop. It should also be finished and open within the next few weeks.
Dyb said the hotel's décor will look "very nice" and exceed required standards.
It features a 3,500-square-foot banquet facility that can be sectioned off into three rooms or combined to include the adjacent restaurant space.
Dyb said the restaurant will be "different from anything else in town" and serve everything from gourmet hamburgers to steak and pasta.
Guests will find continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, just outside of which is a fenced-in patio-like area with tables and chairs. A business center will also be located near the lobby.
Guests will see granite and tile in common areas as well as the hotel's bathrooms.
Dyb said, "We're also going to be a completely non-smoking facility."
Vehicles will access the hotel via a drive-through atrium on Spring Street or via an entrance on Spruce Street that leads to the underground garage.
The small site across from the hotel on Spruce Street, where a construction trailer sits now, will become additional hotel parking.
"It'll have a variety of suites," said the general manager, mentioning king, queen and family.
Individual rooms will include high-definition TVs, refrigerators, microwaves and high-speed wireless Internet access. Paying guests will also have access to a small fitness room, which Dyb says is a now a requirement, as well as an indoor pool and Jacuzzi.
He said the hotel will have a water-retention feature in the courtyard that will help protect the Kinnickinnic River as well as an "extensive" recycling program.
Guests will find the front desk staffed 24 hours.
"My focus has always been on customer service," said Dyb.
Dyb said he's been in the hotel-management business for about 12 years. He graduated from UW-Stout with a hospitality and tourism management degree then worked around the country before landing in River Falls at the Country Inn & Suites three years ago.
"I know enough to know I don't want to leave the Midwest again," he laughs.
He's opened several other hotels, though none this big before. Dyb's worked in major cities for hotel chains including Renaissance, Marriott and Radisson.
His duties in general include managing operations and staff as well as sales and marketing.
Dyb said the hotel is hiring for several positions now, including an executive chef, front-desk staff, cooks, kitchen staff, food servers, housekeeping personnel, an overnight audit person, someone for maintenance, a facility engineer and a worker to oversee the continental breakfast.
"Probably the executive chef is our biggest need," the manager said.
He's been checking with culinary schools and through local sources but hasn't found "the one." He says the executive chef works with the kitchen managers and cooks to organize the kitchen.
People interested in applying for a job can pick up applications at the Chamber of Commerce office, 214 N. Main St. They can also e-mail or call him with inquiries: email@example.com or 425-1045.
Dyb said Best Western plans an open house event for sometime in August, but people are welcome to come by before then and ask for a tour.
He said, "The best benefit (of the hotel) will be that downtown businesses, shops, restaurants and the university are all within walking distance."
See this week's River Falls Journal for more pictures.