The Holiday Inn Express at Bay Pines held its grand opening April 12. The hotel, which is part of the 60-acre mixed-use development across from the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, is the first hotel to open within Seminole city limits.
SEMINOLE – The city celebrated the grand opening of a Holiday Inn Express – Seminole’s long-awaited first hotel - April 12.
The InterContinental Hotels Group hotel is part of a 60-acre mixed-use development anchored by a Wal-mart SuperCenter and located across from the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System. The development also includes The Courtney at Bay Pines, a 330-unit luxury apartment complex; The Cove at Bay Pines, a subdivision of single-family homes; a Village Inn; a Texas Roadhouse restaurant; and other retail stores.
MPH Hotels Inc., owner-operator of the new Holiday Inn Express, invested more than $15 million to build the 121-room hotel, said Heather Davis, general manager. It also features a new sign and brand standards as part of the Holiday Inn chain’s $1 billion, worldwide brand re-launch.
“It’s really exciting to be in Seminole,” Davis said. “This is the perfect location for a hotel. It’s a great addition to Seminole.”
She grew up in Seminole, so she’s familiar with the area, she said. She attended Blessed Sacrament Catholic School. She currently lives in unincorporated Largo and her children attend Seminole High School.
“So I know this area well,” she said. “It’s the perfect fit.”
She said the hotel will draw both corporate guests and vacationers.
“I believe that we’ll probably have a corporate base during the week and on the weekend we’ll probably sell leisure,” she said.
The Holiday Inn Express opened in early April, two weeks ahead of schedule, Davis added.
“Everything just seemed to fall in place and we were able to open earlier,” she said.
Roger Edelman, president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, who also sits on City Council, said the area has been in need of a hotel for decades.
“I think it’s an incredible addition to the area. It’s the closest off-beach hotel that we have,” he said. “I think it’s just going to be an outstanding addition to Walmart, to the area, to Bay Pines and to all the folks who are coming into Seminole. We couldn’t be more proud to have Holiday Inn be a partner with us in the chamber and the city.”
As the mixed-use development moved forward in recent years, initial plans called for a hotel component. But these plans were stymied by the struggling economy and the hotel was put on the backburner, Edelman said.
“From 2008 until about 2012, the economy wasn’t strong, tourism wasn’t strong, and I think there was some reluctance to build a hotel here because we do have hotels on the beach,” he said.
He added, “But now when you look at the hotel and the proximity to Bay Pines, this is the absolute perfect place to have a hotel. We’re proud to have it. We love to have it.”
Edelman said there is a potential for the hotel to partner with Bay Pines. He also said that MPH is interested in opening a second hotel in the Seminole-Largo area.