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July 27, 2020

Holiday Inn By the Bay puts new spin on working remotely

Exterior of the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland Photo / Renee Cordes While things are slow this hotel season, the Holiday Inn By the Bay is promoting itself as a quiet, socially distant workspace with perks including access to an indoor heated pool.

Seeking another revenue stream while bookings are slow during the pandemic, Portland's 239-room Holiday Inn By the Bay is promoting its rooms as a clean, quiet, socially distant place to work away from home.

The "Work from Holiday Inn" (WFH) offer for "your new office" at a price of $59 per day or $250 per week includes a room with a desk, chair, private bathroom, microwave, mini-fridge and Keurig coffee maker. 

There are also other perks not typically associated with a standard office or coworking space such as free parking, cable TV, room service and access to the hotel's business center and indoor heated pool.

The offer comes as a number of Maine employers remain on remote operations while others are slowly reopening, creating a potential shake-up in the office real estate market. Other hotels are also innovating, with ideas from a "workcation" promotion at the Wolf Cove Inn in the Poland to a growing trend in "micro-weddings" of up to 50 guests. 

Annaliese Lafayette, general manager of the Holiday Inn By the Bay, told Mainebiz that the idea for the promotion stemmed from a conversation among her team about how challenging it can be to work from home with distractions like kids, pets and spotty internet service.

"We figured that coworking spaces may not be preferable to some people right now, so there's a potential market for renting a private space at a reasonable price," she said, noting that the well-equipped rooms also come with great views.

"Typically, we'd be very busy this time of year, and it wouldn't make sense for us to do a day rate," she added, "but we've been very slow and are trying to get creative to drive revenue."

Lafayette reported strong interest so far in renting rooms for work purposes as well as meeting space, with several companies booking rooms over the last month.

"We've begun to get a lot of calls from people who want to bring their teams back together, but in a larger space than normal or provide their workers with a private space to work, she said. "We've had bookings from legal firms, hospitals, engineering firms and news stations. We also booked our new outdoor parking lot rooftop restaurant, Level 5, for a company that wants to reunite their team in a safe way, and we hope to host more companies in the future."

Asked to what extent the promotion could be part of the hotel's offering or business model in the longer term, Lafayette said, "I think we'll offer this WFH promotion for the next year or so, and then reevaluate where the business levels are at and whether it makes sense to continue. We plan to rent the parking garage rooftop event space long-term."

Renovation update

The move comes amid ongoing renovations at the hotel, which is working with Portland's Wright-Ryan Construction.

Construction on the hotel's first major renovation began about two years ago.

The hotel, built in 1973, has been owned since 2009 by Lafayette Hotels, a Maine family-owned company founded by husband and wife Danny and Carla Lafayette in Hampden. GM Annaliese Lafayette is their daughter.

Kimble Rawcliffe, the hotel's corporate and sports sales manager, told Mainebiz that the first phase of the renovation, on the building's exterior, has just been completed.

While renovation of the guest rooms was was scheduled to start in January 2021, she said that timeline has been moved up to August because of a slow summer season during COVID.

After rooms have been renovated, the final part of the renovation will be of public areas like the lobby, fitness center and pool. Rawcliffe also said that while the meeting space won't change very much, its Port of Call Restaurant and Lounge will be redone.

Without going into details about the price, she described the renovation as a multimillion-dollar project.

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