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Growing demand for extended stays

November 23, 2018

The wait is finally over.

After a much-delayed construction, a Residence Inn by Marriott opened Monday at 25 Atlantic St., in downtown Stamford. Billed as the city’s first extended-stay hotel, the establishment reflects the continued growth of the region’s corporate sector and contributes to a fast-changing travel industry that generates multibillion-dollar revenues for the state.

“We think this location is superior to competitors in the local market,” Stamford Residence Inn General Manager Todd Lindvall said in an interview last week at the hotel. “We think we’re offering a unique experience.”

Downtown accommodations

The new Residence Inn houses 156 apartment-style suites, including one-bedroom and studio layouts. Each of the units has a kitchen.

Hotel amenities include approximately 2,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, a 2,000-square-foot fitness center, an outdoor terrace, a breakfast buffet and a tequila-and-tapas bar. The meeting areas can be booked by groups who have not reserved rooms.

Other services include a laundry room, grocery pick-ups and shuttle service anywhere within Stamford.

Guests commonly stay for more than 30 days, but they can check in for visits as short as one night.

A traveler planning to stay all of December in a one-bedroom suite would pay an average of $239 per night, according to the hotel’s website.

Major corporate clients include Charter Communications, the country’s second-largest cable company, which is headquartered down the street at 400 Atlantic St.

The hotel connects to an adjacent Courtyard Marriott, at 275 Summer St., that opened in 2005. Residence Inn guests can use Courtyard services including its indoor pool and driveway. Courtyard guests have access to the commons areas in the Residence Inn and can eat, for a fee, at the inn’s breakfast buffet.

The Residence Inn stands within a three-block radius of about 90 restaurants, according to hotel officials. “This location is a big draw to the younger travelers who want to be downtown to go to all the restaurants and other attractions,” Lindvall said.

Residence Inn’s opening caps a protracted construction. Boston-based commercial real estate investment firm UC Funds acquired the property in April 2017. It had languished idle for about two years because of the bankruptcy of its original developer, Seaboard Realty.

Bethesda, Md.-based Urgo Hotels & Resorts is managing operations at 25 Atlantic.

“This is an exciting time for Stamford, and we’re thrilled to partner with Marriott to bring the city its first extended stay product,” UC Funds founder and CEO Dan Palmier said in a statement. “It’s a natural complement to the Courtyard and an important addition to a thriving downtown.”

Other neighboring hotels include a Marriott, at 243 Tresser Blvd; a Sheraton, at 700 E. Main St.; a Hotel Zero Degrees at 909 Washington Blvd.; and a Hampton Inn & Suites, at 26 Mill River St.

Economic driver

Several other Residence Inns operate in Connecticut, including locations in Avon, Danbury, Groton, Hartford, Manchester, Milford, Rocky Hill, Shelton and Windsor.

Another Residence Inn is scheduled to open in February in Norwalk’s SoNo section.

Residence Inn’s growth underscores the robust amount of business travel in Connecticut. The number of such travelers in the state annually has increased 28 percent since 2014, according to the state’s Office of Tourism.

Business and recreational travel combined to produce about $14.7 billion in sales and $1.7 billion in tax revenues for Connecticut in 2015, the most recent year for which state data are available. The industry supported about 83,000 jobs.

“The Residence Inn in Stamford is a great thing because of the importance of business travel to our economy,” said Randy Fiveash, the Office of Tourism’s director. “Not only are people spending money in restaurants and attractions while they’re here, but they may also return with their families for tourism visits to Connecticut.”

Facing competition

Many corporations put their employees up in apartments for longer stays. The construction of several thousand units in Stamford, Norwalk and other neighboring communities in recent years has created a proliferation of new housing near central business districts.

Home-sharing apps such as Airbnb provide another option for corporate travelers.

Under Airbnb’s tax agreement with the state, the company automatically collects and remits Connecticut’s 15 percent room occupancy tax on behalf of its hosts. In August, Airbnb announced it had generated $5.2 million in tax revenue for the state in the past two years.

As of July 1, there were 3,600 active Airbnb hosts across Connecticut, taking in about 140,000 guests during the past year, according to company data. The typical Connecticut host made $6,700 per year by operating approximately three days per month.

At the same time, local officials in cities such as Stamford have grappled with regulating the business.

In response to complaints about reported disturbances at a number of Airbnb rentals, Stamford’s Board of Representatives has debated whether the city should adopt new lodging rules for residences. The legislative body voted last year to study the issue.

“Airbnb is a part of our travel industry,” Fiveash said. “But we don’t know yet how Airbnb is affecting the industry. We’re still trying to determine the total effect.”

Stamford Residence Inn officials said their hotel stands out because of its amenities and focus on customer service. They also cite guests’ ability to earn Marriott Rewards points for their stays.

“We provide a unique experience and a level of service the apartments can’t provide,” Lindvall said. “We’re hopeful that we can bring those folks back to a hotel. We’re ready to meet the needs of today’s travelers.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

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