New Hilton opens for guests

Published 10:53 pm Monday, April 27, 2009

North Suffolk just got a little bit bigger.

The new 99,157 square foot Hilton Garden Inn at Harbour View opened last weekend, with a 4,000 square foot banquet hall, 135 guest rooms and a fully functioning boardroom.

Lap Management broke ground on the project more than a year ago after management executives saw the burgeoning growth in North Suffolk and the lack of Hilton options nearby.

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“We wanted to get in on the upcoming growth,” said Amy Chen, general manager for the Hilton. “There are a lot of people coming to this side of the city.”

Despite a plummeting economy in the midst of construction, Chen said building continued on. The only real delay for the company has been in future projects in Virginia Beach.

“We know the hospitality industry is just like any other – it’s cyclical,” Chen said. “There are ups and downs, and we’re here through them all.”

The main focus during construction was differentiating the new hotel from any of its predecessors. It was important, Chen said, that this location stand above the rest.

“We’ve upgraded just about anything you can upgrade in Hilton standards,” she said. “Everything was customized to give a different feel, different design than any other of the Hilton Garden Inns. It’s supposed to be fun, funky and vibrant.”

On top of being a fun place to stay, management also wanted their hotel to be the most cutting-edge. The rooms boast a new kind of key card, which guests just place up to the door’s card reader and the door unlocks instead of having to swipe a card. This cuts down on cards losing their magnetic strip, which is one of the leading reasons why customer’s keys will not work.

“That’s just a hassle to deal with, so we’re taking care of that on the front end,” Chen said.

Each bedroom has a flat screen television, extra large desks and wireless Internet. And outlets for the desk are located above the table height so guests do not have to climb underneath to plug in cell phone chargers, laptops or iPod players.

Additionally, the beds are Sleep Number beds, which allows guests to control how firm or soft their mattresses are.

“There shouldn’t be any reason why someone has a bad stay,” Chen said.

Six years ago, when the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Suffolk opened, the building became an almost immediate goldmine for local organizations and businesses looking to host special events, fundraisers or galas.

Bharat Patel, owner of the Hilton Garden Inn at Harbour View, said this new location should do the same thing for the northern end of the city.

“That is what’s going to happen, the same thing, in this area of Suffolk,” Patel said. “People will want to come here.”

Chen said that once the sign for the Hilton was posted, the hotel was inundated with phone calls to start booking rooms and the banquet hall.

“People were calling and already making reservations, because they were looking forward to having something on this side of town,” Chen said.