By Megan Rule | Staff Writer
The new Home2Suites in Waco had its grand opening celebration at 11 a.m. Thursday at 2500 Bagby Ave.
“Short-term, we’ve just been really happy with the reception that we’ve gained within the community and the success that the team has had,” said Mark Ricketts, president and COO of McNeill Hotel Company. “We’ve been open three months, and in terms of guest satisfaction scores we’re the No. 2 rated Home2Suites in the entire brand, which says a lot about the team.”
The grand opening celebration featured catering from local favorites such as Potbelly Sandwich Shop, George’s, Clay Pot and Starbucks Coffee. McLennan Animal Rescue Coalition had a table set up as well, and K&S Entertainment served as the DJ for the event. The celebration also included room tours and door prizes.
The process of building the hotel took less than two years, Ricketts said. He hopes the construction of this hotel will add to success of nearby businesses and restaurants.
“This is absolutely going to help the business,” said Rachel Palmer, store manager of the Starbucks on the Jack Kultgen Expressway. “Everyone in the parking lot has come together to help, and we’re really loving it.”
Ricketts, who has worked with McNeill Hotel Company since its conception about two years ago, emphasized the importance of the location of this hotel. He said his business is all about the college markets because the need for extended-stay hotels in areas like Waco is in such high demand. The growth of Baylor as well as local attractions such as Magnolia Market help to make the location of this hotel so significant, Ricketts said.
Home2Suites is surrounded by restaurants such as Zoe’s Kitchen and Chili’s. HEB is right across the street, easing the option for guests staying longer to buy groceries. The visibility of Home2Suites right off I-35 helps as well because tourists driving through can see it and note its proximity to Baylor, two highway exits away.
“We’ve added roughly 35 to 40 jobs,” Ricketts said. “As these customers come, its a place to stay, so hopefully as more people look in Waco they look to stay longer – eat at the restaurants and visit Magnolia or all the different places. We think it’s a nice win-win. We’ve added some jobs to the community, and we’re bringing tax revenues in.”
The development of Home2Suites adds jobs to the economy, according to Ricketts. This new hotel also helps the Waco economy because tourists visit restaurants and shops unique to Waco while staying at the hotel. This location will also help for major weekends such as family weekend, homecoming weekend and graduation weekends.
The hotel remains committed to not only helping the local economy in these ways, but also through its community outreach program, Your2Hands, according to the Home2Suites website. Each Home2Suites hotel chooses a local charity to support its surrounding community. The local branch has not yet chosen a charity in Waco.
Short term goals are to maintain the guest satisfaction and success that the hotel has had up to this point, Ricketts said. Long term, Ricketts would like the location to remain an economically viable area.
As long as the city grows and tourists continue to come to Waco and enjoy the city, the need for long-term stay will be there, Ricketts said.