By Seth Daniel
Whether it’s the huge function space or the up-market fixtures or the break-the-mold room design, Colwen Hotel’s Leo Xarras believes his newest Chelsea hotel is going to take the market by storm – luring guests from downtown Boston to Chelsea with up-market amenities and accommodations, but with the value of the Chelsea location.
The 150-room hotel is by far the best of the chain’s three hotels now in Chelsea, which is a bold statement given the acclaim given to the design and execution of the previous two hotels – the Residence Inn and the TownPlace Suites.
That is clear in the rooms where they feature hand-tied wool rugs, premium bedding, large custom kitchens and a completely sound-proof room that blocks out the highway noise. It is also clear in the foyer where the ceilings are 13-feet tall and it is more than two times larger than any other lobby in the brand. There’s a fireplace with a long bar and a restaurant that will serve light fare to both guests and to those in the community.
Xarras said his designers visited five-star hotels and observed the fixtures, the finishes and the feel, and they came back and delivered an elevated feel in the tier of Homewood Suites.
“We are excited every time we bring a new property to the marketplace and we want to get better every time we open a new property,” he said. “That’s our goal.
“We love Chelsea,” he continued. “We feel like we’re attracting guests who have stayed in Chelsea, but want the feel of a downtown Boston hotel. We’re not trying to compensate for being in Chelsea. It has been said we are doing that. I want to make 100 percent clear that is not the case. What we’re particularly trying to do is get the feel of a five-star Boston hotel. That’s how we approached this hotel throughout.”
And at least in initial visits, it appears they have pulled it off.
Part of the thought process for having a larger lobby than normal, he said, is that guests now want to have shared communal space outside of their rooms. That’s why they made the lobby bigger, why they made the business center larger and why they have put in a much larger pool and fitness room than most in the brand.
“Rooms are important, but we feel giving people expanded space use and engage in is a very important part of the guest experience,” he said. “Our fitness center is more like a full-service fitness center than a cramped fitness center in a hotel.”
One of the greatest features for the community is the function space that can accommodate up to about 250 people – larger than any function space in the city right now. The space can also be divided up into three smaller facilities if needed, and it also has a separate outside entrance.
He said they are hoping to attract local and outside business, having to really convince the Homewood brand to allow them to build out the function space – as they don’t normally have such an amenity at their properties.
“We are really hoping that we bring in a lot of local business, but we have put in an investment so that we also are attracting business from far-away as well – people who want to come here to have a function,” he said. “This is something the City really wanted from us and we really fought for it and we are very excited about it.”
The fight to bring to the market something much different than what is typical in the Homewood brand didn’t stop with the function facility. It also extended to the rooms.
Xarras said they engaged in a one-year battle with the brand to allow them to arrange the kitchen on the back wall to allow for a longer island like one might find at home.
“Our goal was to make it feel more residential than commercial in its delivery,” he said. “We continued to tell them that just because you did it for 25 years doesn’t mean that it was the right way.”
That also translated in customizing the hotel to have 24 rooms with double beds, six per floor, something rarely done in extended stay.
Finally, Xarras said he and the Colwen team are couldn’t be happier to be opening a new property in Chelsea. He said the Residence Inn is one of the best performing hotels in its class. He said the reason for that is the employees who provide great service.
“It is literally like a family in Chelsea,” he said. “This has to be a win for the community and a win for us. It wouldn’t be right if we built this hotel and said, ‘Ok, now stay out.’ That’s not us. If the neighbors don’t embrace it, it’s not a win.”
The hotel is expected to open between March 15-20.
The Homewood Suites by Hilton in Chelsea will be having a Hiring Fair starting next week.
Starting on Feb. 9, from 3-7 p.m., the company will hold its first hiring fair for front desk supervisors, front desk agents, night auditors, van drivers, maintenance, food/beverage attendants, bartenders, p.m. cooks, housekeeping supervisor, housekeepers, house persons, and overnight house persons.
The fair will be held at the Residence Inn at 200 Maple St. in Chelsea.
Apply online at www.hwsbostonlogan.com and click on ‘Join the Team.’
Additional hiring fairs will be on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Tuesday, Feb. 14, form 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
FRONT 1477 –
One of the guest room suites at the new Homewood Suites by Hilton in Chelsea across from the Chelsea High School. Colwen Hotels officials said they stretched the brand several ways to bring to market a very unique hotel with the feel of a five-star, downtown Boston hotel.
A new function room that will hold up to 250 people will be a focal point for the community in the new Homewood Suites, something that Chelsea does not have at the moment.
The pool at the Homewood Suites features large stairs and lots of natural light.
The bedding in the rooms is premium quality, said owner Leo Xarras, as it is very important to guests and “calms a lot of sins.”
The bathrooms feature up-market fixtures and mirrors and finishes that are typically seen in downtown hotels.
The lobby, now under construction, will be a showpiece for the brand, offering a large bar and a breakfast buffet/restaurant. It is more than two times larger than any other hotel in the brand.