Earlier this week, I visited the new Four Points by Sheraton Columbus, Ohio Airport, the second prototype in Starwood’s ambitious portfoliowide revitalization of its “focused service” brand. It’s always nice to get out of the office for visits like this, especially to tour a new-build at a time when a lot of development has slowed to a halt.
For this particular project, developer Darpan Management was just able to squeak by the front of the economic maelstrom to secure the necessary financing, according to Dan Shah, regional manager for the Columbus-based company. The two-year process went relatively smoothly, especially as construction and labor costs began to drop last year. Total costs amounted to about US$12 million.
Development went so smoothly, in fact, that the Four Points opened weeks ahead of schedule on 6 August, with an official grand opening slated for 18 September. This would give the hotel ample time to work out any operational kinks, properly train staff, and polish any maintenance or structural issues, the property’s GM Heather Laemmle told me. And while there were a few maintenance vans in the mostly empty parking lot when I pulled up, there didn’t seem to be many kinks or much polishing left to finish.
From the exterior, the property looked sharp. Its clean horizontal lines gave it a modern feel, and its warm mixture of different bricks and stones made it an inviting complement to the surrounding office complexes just off of I-670 west of downtown Columbus.
That aesthetic continued in the lobby, where contemporary furniture and calm greens, beiges and blues dotted a hardwood canvas highlighted with plenty of natural light. The main floor also housed an adequate eating space in which a free continental breakfast is served each morning and dinner and bar service is available to guests at a charge every night. At one end of the hotel are meeting spaces designed to hold 55-80 people; at the other is a small swimming pool and comfortable, though relatively sparse, workout facility.
The hotel’s 110 guestrooms feature the same clean design and color palette as the lobby, with inspired touches, such as subway tiles in the all-white bathrooms, canvas pull-out draws in the desks/dressers and sliding wood bathroom doors.
All told, the property didn’t blow me away. Yes, the design felt new and contemporary, but it came across as a bit uninviting in some places. The lobby seating area, for example, felt like an Ikea showroom; it didn’t really beckon me to grab a seat and stay for a while—and that’s OK. In a market dominated by Marriotts and Hiltons, the Four Points by Sheraton Columbus, Ohio Airport provides self-sufficient travelers with a clean, comfortable, lower-tiered Starwood alternative conveniently located between downtown Columbus and the airport. It doesn’t try to be anything more, and its price point reflects that (midweek rate is between US$119-139).
And in an era when travelers are often nickeled and dimed at every turn, it’s nice to encounter things like free Wi-Fi and daily continental breakfast at a hotel. Heck, the Four Points even provides parched guests with a free bottle of water in every room.
By adding these little touches to a solid hotel experience, the prototype likely will be well-received by guests, especially Starwood Preferred Guests, as it gets introduced in other markets throughout the world. And that should be happening sooner than later: Starwood has 150 total projects in the pipeline, with 90 in the U.S.