Holiday Inn Express becomes a Best Western

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What was formerly the Holiday Inn Express on Plaza Street in Albert Lea is now a Best Western franchise after a transformation that was completed Friday.

The owners and managers of the hotel have been working on the change since September. They were required to either add 23 units to the hotel or no longer be a part of the Holiday Inn company. Best Western showed interest in franchising the hotel, and the owners decided to change companies.

“We went with Best Western because it’s a better franchise,” co-owner Bob Adams said.

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Best Western then came and looked at the hotel, 821 Plaza St., and provided a list of recommendations for improvements, and manager Julie Sternhagen said they completed that list and more.

“Everything in the rooms is new — even the light switches,” Sternhagen said.

Sternhagen said literally almost everything has been replaced with new items. Some of the new items include furniture, bedding, granite countertops, fridges and microwaves in each room, TVs and more. The staff are also happy that Best Western will let them use local products.

“The artwork will be local, and we’ll be able to serve 4 Seasons coffee,” Sternhagen said. “We’re excited about that.”

Adams said Best Western had been looking for an opportunity to open a hotel in the Albert Lea area. The closest ones in southern Minnesota are in Rochester and Mankato.

“When we became available they were interested in us,” Adams said.

The other co-owners are Terry Adams and Randy Stay, and the hotel has about 16 employees. It is 12 years old, and Sternhagen said it was time to upgrade all the furnishings even though it’s stressful to renovate.

“It’s been a fun stress,” Sternhagen said. “There are so many improvements it’s unbelievable.”