La Quinta hotel checks in
The slab for the new La Quinta Inn and Suites in Bridge City was poured the day before Hurricane Ike hit.
Ready to open Friday, the La Quinta sits next to old location of the Midway Motel, which closed after Ike.
Clay Dunn started the Midway – named because it was “midway between Bridge City and Port Arthur” – in 1945. After he sold the Midway. it went through several owners.
The Bridge City La Quinta has 62 rooms, says Bill Blackburn – an operations manager with Pacific Inns, which owns or operates many La Quinta Inns.
“This one has some two-room suites, which many La Quintas don’t have,” he says. “There is no question that this is the best-constructed La Quinta Inn. I’m very confident we’ll win the ‘New Construction of the Year Award’ which is very sought-after within the organization.”
Some 15 to 20 employees who live locally will work there. The general manager is Jody Clausen, originally from Southeast Texas. Room prices range from $109 to $149.
“We already have some rooms booked for the opening – most from local people who want to stay here the first night,” Blackburn says.
“There’s a water view from every room in the hotel. We had a luncheon here the other day where we invited some local people, and I got the impression this facility had lifted some spirits in the community; that this hotel was a big step toward recovery; which was very nice to see because Bridge City’s been through a lot.”
The water around the inn seems to have no official name. Locals call the area “Twin Lakes.” A lot of residents swam there as kids.
All rooms feature a 42-inch flatscreen television, a microwave oven, small refrigerator and free “wi-fi” Internet. “We don’t use bed sheets anymore,” Blackburn says. “We use duvets, a down-type of comforter that’s sewed inside of real high-quality sheets … the bedding is first class.”
Free breakfasts will feature scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, Belgian waffles and more.
Blackburn adds, “One of our breakfasts – we figure – costs about $10 or a little more per person, so if a family of five checks in they’re getting a $50 breakfast in the morning, which is a pretty good bonus.”
The origins of Bridge City’s La Quinta date back to a longtime idea by Groves businesspersons Neil and Tiffany Liepke.
“He (Neil Liepke) saw something here that nobody else saw,” Blackburn says. “He drove by this site every day, every year – and he visualized a hotel on it. But they (the Liepkes) didn’t want it to just be a motel. There’s a lot of motels around. They visualized something different here.”
A restaurant and conference center next to the hotel still must be built. Ground has been cleared for them. A smaller conference room is presently available near the lobby area.
“We have not picked a restaurant yet,” Blackburn says. “We’re being kind of selective.”
In his career Blackburn has helped open numerous hotels, including equipping, hiring and training a staff for several three- and four-star establishments. He has also developed markets and relationships with government officials in the U.S., China and Middle East.
“You don’t have to walk very far around this hotel to see the potential here,” he says. “This is not just an overnight stay. It will be to some people, obviously, but we see this as a destination. The trend now is for people not to take long trips anymore … but people are still taking vacations, be they from Beaumont or wherever.”
For anglers, Blackburn says there are plenty of fish in the lake, and many outside areas will feature barbecue pits by the water.
He adds that while airlines are “lowering the bar” – providing smaller seats etc., hotels are going the other way.
“[With airlines] you’re getting less service and less comfort for the same price. Yet in the hotel industry the bar is being lifted every day. We’re required to provide more for the same price instead of less all the time.”
For more information, or reservations, call the hotel at (409) 735-2221, or go to www.lq.com, or www.pacificinns.com.
LQ Management, which owns La Quinta, is one of the largest operators of limited-service hotels in the U.S., according to its Web site.
Based in Dallas with 9,000 employees nationwide, La Quinta operates and provides franchise services to more than 700 hotels in the U.S., Canada and Mexico under La Quinta Inns and La Quinta Inns and Suites brands.