For more than a quarter of a century, there has been a hotel at 3040 Fifth Ave. S. It opened its doors in 1984 as a Super 8 and has operated under several owners and names. Now the facility has been reborn as a Days Inn.
Allstate Hotels, headquartered in Iowa City, took ownership of the property in June 2011 and promptly launched a major renovation and rebranding. According to co-managers Tracy Hawley and Sopal Patel, the hotel has been substantially transformed.
"We have 65 rooms," Hawley said. "They just remodeled everything. We started last year and we finished up this spring. We changed out all the rooms from top to bottom, ceilings to floors - carpet, curtains, linens, bedding, furniture. Tiled all of our bathrooms. We've now got microwaves and refrigerators in all the rooms."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Tracy Hawley, co-manager of the Days Inn, 3040 Fifth Ave. S., makes sure the pillows are fluffed just right in one of the recently renovated rooms at the hotel.
The enhancements enabled the owners to qualify the hotel as a franchisee in the Days Inn system. It began operating under the Days Inn name on Dec. 29, 2011, Hawley said.
She stressed that being part of that worldwide network is a big advantage for travelers.
Hawley said one benefit is that guests earn Wyndham Rewards points, which in time can make them eligible for an impressive array of awards which include free hotel stays and much more.
Another plus is the quality-control component of the Days Inn system.
"The standards are basic on all of them," Hawley said. "So, you know you're going to come in and get decent rates, clean rooms. They have inspectors who come in and keep everybody on their toes."
The Fort Dodge Days Inn specializes in serving the needs of travelers who are looking for a clean, economical and friendly hotel according to both Hawley and Patel.
"Most of our clients are the middle class," Hawley said. "They are just looking for a clean room at a decent rate. We're nothing fancy. ... We have a clean motel with a friendly staff. I think people are looking for that."
She said her hotel is ideally suited to the needs of cost-conscious business travelers.
"A lot of people are paying out of their pockets these days," Hawley said. "They don't have the business accounts. ... Everybody is on a tight budget."
She is quick to stress, however, that Days Inn customers will find much to like about her hotel - it is comfortable, convenient and welcoming.
A free breakfast, served seven days a week is one of the attractions that is highly popular.
"We have a hot breakfast in the morning," Hawley said. "We have waffles, hot biscuits and gravy, cereals and toast, Danish and juice. ... It's every day from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m."
On Wednesday evenings there's an additional benefit for hungry guests.
"We have a guest appreciation night," Hawley said. "We serve them supper. We have sandwiches. We have hot dogs or we have lasagna or sandwiches. We've done a little variety of everything. It's gone over really well with people."
Both the daily breakfasts and the Wednesday suppers are particularly relevant to those Days Inn's guests who stay multiple nights. Patel said that clientele constitutes roughly 40 percent of the business.
"Fort Dodge is really busy with sales people," Hawley said, underlining the significance of that part of the guest roster. "We have a lot of trucking companies, of course, in Fort Dodge. We have a pretty large parking area, so we get a lot of the trucks. ... A lot of construction is going on in Fort Dodge, so we get a lot of the Monday-through-Friday people."
Traveling families and extended-stay guests are also likely to find an enhancement in the final phase of the renovation to be to their liking. Five two-room efficiency suites are being created. Each will have a kitchenette. Hawley said these units should be ready early this summer.
Additional amenities at the Fort Dodge Days Inn include two suites with jacuzzis, laundry facilities, a fitness center and a business center. Free WiFi Internet access is also available. The front desk is staffed round-the-clock and the hotel has security cameras throughout the property. Hawley said most of the rooms are designated nonsmoking.
Hawley has been part of the team at this hotel for a quarter century. She said she especially enjoys working with repeat customers, many of whom have become regulars because they appreciate the friendly support provided by staff members.
"They come back because of the staffing," she said. "We do everything we possibly can for them. People look for that. A lot of times you go into places and you are just a number. ... We get a lot of regulars who come through the motel. So, you get on a 'How's the family?' type of thing with them."
Hawley's message to the community is that in its Days Inn incarnation the hotel retains the friendly atmosphere that has made it popular, but has been renewed.
"It's a place that's been here, but right now it's a brand new face for us," she said, reflecting on the major enhancements that have taken place during the last year. "It's a new ballgame for us."